Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Best Holiday Memories

Christmas Eve, a special time of year and one of the most cherished memories that will always hold a sentimental place in my heart.

Springing out of bed and giddy with excitement, my sister and I were going to Baba's (my grandmother's) for Christmas Eve. The holiday could not be here soon enough. "What time are we leaving?" I would ask for the millionth time. The minutes took an eternity, but it was finally time to go.

Proudly displaying our Christmas dresses with our Mary Janes and white tights, we got all bundled up in our winter coats. Donning our hat and mittens, exhilaration filled the frosty air. My sister and I jumped in the car, restless in the back seat. First, because we were going to Baba's. Second, because the car took forever to heat up. Singing every Christmas carol under the sun, we surely made the Griswald's proud! We were on our way.

Glancing out the foggy windows
, winter-white snow drifts grazed the landscape and made the picturesque Norman Rockwell scene come to life. As we crossed the bridge over the river, the houses appeared as though they were merely little villages that belonged under a Christmas tree. You could actually feel the holiday spirit come alive.

At last, we pulled into Baba's driveway, her brick Cape Cod covered in snow. Her home always reminded me of a storybook gingerbread house and it was the perfect holiday backdrop. Sprinting out of the car, but careful on the driveway (Mary Janes were quite slippery in the snow), we followed the stone path between the house and row of emerald green arborvitae trees. Reaching the back porch, we stomped our feet, shaking off the snow. We finally made it.

Opening the wooden door, the warmth brushed against our cold skin. Baba stood at the kitchen sink
with her green apron as we had seen her so many times before. Raising her head, she casted a warm smile and opened her arms to embrace us--her hug so comforting. *sigh* Immediately engulfed with the smell of Christmas Eve dinner, we searched the counter for something we could sample. Yelling at everyone else for picking before dinner, she turned away from them, sneaking my sister and I samples of anything we wanted.

Surrounded by family, we sat around her enormous dining room table. This is what it was all about. All of Baba's prepping and cooking was well worth the wait and effort. It was simply delightful.

Having finished dinner, the men made their sly escape into the living room (no surprise there) while the women cleared the table and washed the dishes. Had I known then what I know now! LOL. With the last dish washed and put away, we were finally ready for my favorite part.

Bustling into the living room and everyone finding their comfy spot, the old record player was
brought down from the upstairs bedroom. The Mitch Miller Christmas sing-a-long albums were spinning and we all sang our little hearts out. Glancing around the dim-lit room, the fire crackled and popped, the Christmas tree was twinkling with baubles of Christmas past as the outside world was lost to us all. All that mattered was family and that particular moment in time.

There was only one song left to sing.
White Christmas.

When my grandfather came home from World War II, he called my grandmother to say he'd be home for the holidays as White Christmas played in the background. Ever since then, my grandmother and grandfather would cry at the drop of a hat upon hearing the enchanted melody. Although it has been many years since my grandparents left us, the song still makes me tear up when I hear it.

The best holiday memories are made with family and friends. I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas or Hanukkah, and I hope you create a Norman Rockwell scene of your own.

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