One Christmas, my mother handcrafted toy kitchen cabinets for my sister and me. Another year, she handcrafted jigsaw puzzles based on Peanuts comics.
I was annoying and greedy about Christmas, telling my mom (and dad) what I wanted six months in advance. Because of this, one year mom gave me the silent treatment until I understood the error of my ways, in time for Christmas.
Another Christmas I remember well was one where times were tight in our house. I can't remember the reason, but instead of buying wrapping paper, we blanketed gifts in butcher paper, and made festive designs on them.
My dad's estranged father contacted us out of the blue one year, and visited with us. As it
happened, he ended up helping to pay for my trip to Germany, but sadly, died shortly after re-
connecting with my dad.
My folks used to get together with family friends, the Helzers and the Nehrings for a
Christmas party. Later, when my sister and I got older, we were allowed to come too.
The Helzers hosted the party and it was always a blast. Sharon Helzer, my mom's best friend
would have the best spread of food and decorations. Her husband, Richard was in charge of
the tree and music. Richard was legendary for his brawn, and was able to wrestle the biggest,
and most beautiful tree into the Helzer home. The Helzer house WAS Christmas. While the
"grown-ups" visited, my sister and I enjoyed the company of the Helzer and Nehring kids I
miss that for a variety of reasons, the party is no longer part of our Christmas tradition, but it
remains a very treasured memory.
Now I have new traditions and a child of my own. My in-laws usually come from Chicago,
and I host a potluck dinner, after which presents are opened. My body is usually ready to get
back to normal after over-indulging the week between Christmas and New Year's Day.
But it's not New Year's Day yet.