From Frank ... | Dec. 24
I want to wish all those who celebrate a very Merry Christmas!
This year is particularly difficult for many, including myself, because it’s so different. My partner had to be away and my son is in California, so it’s just me and my mother, but we’ll all make the best of it and use technology to try to connect and be together at some point during the day.
Rather than succumbing to the sadness of the year, I’m recollecting past holidays that still bring me joy just thinking about them. I’ll share one here with you in the hopes that it will bring a smile or laugh and perhaps allow you to reflect on your own memories of years when family and friends could gather.
A certain custom developed in our household of seven, where the younger kids, including myself, would find and sneak a peek at the wrapped gifts that my mother had tried to keep from us before Christmas morning. In truth, her hiding places for the gifts were never all that creative. At barely 5 feet tall she hardly ever put anything up high so it was only a matter of locating which closet she’d buried them in. Thinking we were so clever, we’d tear a corner here and rip an opening there to try to get a glimpse of what the gift was. There were telltale signs of poorly executed espionage on virtually every package.
One year, my mother decided she’d outsmart us. She devised a plan where each child had her or his own wrapping paper pattern and every present for that child would only be wrapped in that particular paper. Because we little delinquents had some semblance of a conscience, she knew that we would never unwrap a gift that wasn’t our own, so her plan worked and was no peeking before Christmas.
So, there we were on Christmas morning of boxes with seven distinct patterns of wrapping paper under the tree. Gloria likely picked up the first package, not knowing whose it was and looked to our mom saying “Is this one for me?” The reaction on my mother’s face was the first sign that something about her plan had gone awry. She quickly darted out of the living room and into the kitchen where we could hear drawers being frantically opened and closed, with a bit of urgency at first and then more frustration with each new drawer being opened. She returned and tried to act as if none of that happened and said, “Yes, Gloria, I think that’s yours.”
Then, Toni held up a package and asked if the pattern was hers. Mom nodded and then quickly agreed to whomever asked next. The scene quickly unfolded, perhaps in mere minutes, where almost all of the presents had been opened but a new swirl of questions emerged. “Mom, these don’t fit me. Are you sure that was my pattern?” or “You bought me a mini-skirt, I didn’t think you’d let me wear a mini-skirt yet.” Mom had obviously lost the legend to which pattern was assigned to which kid!
As the only boy, deciphering which gifts were mine was fairly straightforward. Deciding which gifts belonged to each of my sisters was another matter altogether. I can still recall a tug of war with a pair of jeans that ended in tears. They say that tragedy plus time is comedy. My mother’s tragic error of misplacing the legend has led to a comedic story that has endured through the decades. I hope all of you have a wonderful day.
Please join me tomorrow at noon on Zoom to share your own family stories. My mother, who is also a member, will join us for the Zoom call, so maybe don’t mention her little error! Happy holidays, everyone.