Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas On The Continuum

Today is Christmas Eve, which for my extended, Minnesota family, is the "real" Christmas from a celebration standpoint. Everyone gathers at my sister Jane's house for a meal and kick-out-the-slats present exchange. We have been gathering at her house for almost twenty years now and today we will will gather one last time. Jane will be selling her house this spring in an attempt to downsize before she retires.

And while I know this will be a hard event for her, it will be hard for me as well. There are a ton of good memories from that house, most of them built around holidays and special events.

  • When I first brought my girlfriend Donna home to meet my family, we were met at the door of this house by my niece Stephanie (5 or 6 at the time) who, when she saw Donna, asked "Who are you, and what are you doing in my house?" How's that for a welcome to the family?
  • At that same event, my nephew and godson, Nicolas when introduced to Donna as "his future aunt," stormed away to his room saying "She's not going to be MY aunt." Nick and I were pretty close at the time, and he didn't want to have to share me with anyone. Eventually, that night, he warmed up to her when he realized she wasn't going away. 
  • We made the trip back to Minnesota every other year when the kids were young. When we did, all of my siblings with little kids got together and chipped in on paying a Santa to come and distribute presents. He'd come in the back door magically with one gift for each kid present. Then he'd get pictures with the kids and sing a song or two and be off. It was a great part of our Christmas every year.
  • One year when he was much older, Jane's boyfriend Chas, was chosen to dress up and play Santa Claus. As he was putting the finishing touches on his Santa coat in one of the bedrooms, my son Ben walked in on him much to the surprise of both of them. That marked the end of the whole Santa mystery for Ben. We all have to find out somehow, right?

  • In 2009, Jane held a '70's theme party in her back yard and deck. Everyone wore 70's clothing and brought 70's food. (Think Tab cola, Pringles, Jello Salad, deviled eggs, etc.) Songs from the 70's were played (yes, including Free Bird). There were three generations of "kids" all celebrating the era of pimp mobiles, bell bottoms and groovy music. One for the ages.

  • More recently, we celebrated Nick's return from Afghanistan last January. It was a great reunion of family and friends. It was also where I had to witness the Packers meltdown against Seattle for the NFC Championship. Well, all the memories can't be good now can they? At least I was with family. 
So, the pending sale of my sisters house brings to mind my own home that we lived in for 15 years as a family. I recall vividly when Mom first put the Portland house up for sale, my brother Rob said to her, "I DO NOT like that sign out front!" 

At the time, Mom and Paul were the only ones still living at home, and she was trying to get out from the burdens of old house ownership. Her reply to Rob still resonates with me today.

"Rob, the house is just a house. You can take the memories of the house with you your whole life. It's just a structure. It's the people and times that were part of it
that matter." 

As we change our living places more and more these days, that is good advice going forward.

Merry Christmas, everyone! 

Blogging off...

2 comments:

mark lawrence said...

What a stunning post on Christmas Eve. I love reading through this post. Your Christmas night pictures are way too adorable. I also hosted a fun party for my family at some popular San Francisco venues. It was truly an enjoyable night and we had great time together.

Jim Landwehr said...

Hi Mark,

Thanks so much for your nice comments. It means a lot to a writer when people are moved enough to say something. I'm glad you liked it. (I'm curious how you got to it being that it's 6 weeks old, but it doesn't matter.)

I've got another one from a year ago that is one of my favorites. Check it out sometime.

http://www.writerjimlandwehr.com/2014/12/the-timelessness-of-christmas.html

Best to you.

Jim