28 November 2006

Monday Madness

Let's talk about holidays... Depending on where you live and what religion you are, you may celebrate different holidays and at different times of the year than others. But most of us do celebrate at least one holiday a year. Let's share! =)

1. Which of the holidays that you celebrate, do you feel is the most important?

Most important? Thanksgiving, because it's important to stop and say thank you for whatever good or positive things happened to you during the year. You don't have to say it to a supreme being and it doesn't have to be a prayer. But just being alive is a reason for thanks.

2. Which holiday do you most enjoy?

Ah, now that's Christmas. I love the colors and the music and the lights and getting together with folks you love. Gifts are nice, but they aren't important.

3. Is there one holiday that your family tries to get together every year? If so, which one?

We get together with James' family on Christmas, just not always Christmas day, because it's such a hassle. James usually has to work the day after and we can't just sit and relax and talk because we have to drive the nearly two hours home early to get ready for work the next day and the traffic is crazy. (I'll never forget that head-on collision I so narrowly avoided several years ago on Christmas morning. The thought of it makes my skin crawl.) Any one of the twelve days of Christmas is appropriate!

4. Share one special memory from a past holiday.

Oh, golly, this is the one I always talk about. You're free to skip to the next question if you've heard this one more than once.

When I was a girl we always went to my Grandfather's (Papá, Dad's father) on Christmas Eve and later Christmas Day (occasionally for dinner on Christmas). This was always down in the cellar, which was partially belowground; you entered from a door in the back and stepped down two steps. This was a average-sized room with an old bedroom dresser used to keep table linens in (at Christmas it had candy dishes and plates of cookies on top), a big table that held at least a dozen people, a black old woodstove that had been converted to gas, a built-in china cabinet and a old deep sink. In an alcove under the stairs was my Grandma's old treadle sewing machine and on a tall shelf an old Bakelite radio. (This was only half the room; the other half was partitioned behind boards and was the boiler and clotheslines to dry clothes on wet days and the summer clothes and some shelves with tools and nails, and also an old icebox.) The stone walls were painted grey (the cabinets were a dark red and made of beadboard) and in one corner was the door to Papá's frigid-in-winter wine cellar (Papá made his own wine, including a rich deep burgundy that I miss every time I make wine biscuits). Probably anyone would have seen it as homely and even shabby, but I loved it. My Aunty Margaret would cook quantities of macaroni and dozens of Italian cookies and we'd all eat around the big table which was covered with a new oilcloth every year (but you could check underneath for previous year's patterns, like layers in a archeological dig).

We would save pennies for weeks and then bring a bag and everyone would play Po-ke-no, a pot each for center, corners, and "bingo." Then all the men would play poker while we kids sat and listened to the women talk.

At that point I would go upstairs, ostensibly to the bathroom on the second floor, but always because I wanted to see the house all quiet and glowing for Christmas. The upstairs hadn't been redecorated since the late 40s or something like that and it was like stepping into a time machine. The kitchen had metal cabinets and a big old Roper stove that had been bought for my grandmother before she died in the late 1950s, but she seldom got to use it because everyone ate downstairs. Aunty Margaret took care of the house and the kitchen table was always covered with a pretty checked cloth and had little decorative candy dishes on it: Christmas candy and torrone and these citrus candy slices in lemon, orange and tangerine. Next to the kitchen was a room called "the den" that had an old sleeper sofa and a green linoleum floor and not much else, but if you went through the glass door of the kitchen to the front of the house there was the dining room, with heavy brown Victorian-like table and chairs and sideboards and the front window where the Christmas tree always stood. Next to the dining room was the parlor with its old-fashioned reddish wallpaper and there was always an uncle who had come upstairs, ostensibly to check the football scores but in reality to get away from the racket, who had fallen asleep in the chair or on the sofa with the lights low and the television murmuring.

All the lights were off elsewhere except for the tree and the candles in the window. It was like some magical place where you might step through the gateway of time if you just knew the way and come out in another era. I always liked to sit on the floor and look up through the tree from the bottom. With the tinsel and the big C7 bulbs and the old ornaments it was in itself a glittering passage to Times-Gone-Past. It was a good place to sit and think about Christmas and the people below and the years they had seen: the rising fortunes of the Twenties, the Depression, the sacrifice of World War II, the schizophrenic Fifties.

Miss it. Hurts sometimes.

5. Name one holiday coming up, that you're really looking forward to, and why.

Well, Christmas, silly. :-) Our first in the new house. We can finally be in the same room with the Christmas tree, instead of it being upstairs and seeing it going up and downstairs and on Christmas Eve only. And a little Christmas village; always wanted a small one. And the Twelfth Night party.

Maybe someday I'll even do the cake with the bean in it. :-)

1 comment:

Casey Galatos said...

Well the holidays are coming up in a while and that's reason enough for us to be excited...it is the time for all fun and merriment getting together with friends and family and just have a good time....and hey for some more of the holiday fun and spirit do drop by my Holiday Blog sometime....have a great time during the holidays!!!!