Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reflections of Christmas

Merry Christmas, Everyone. Feliz Navidad. Mele Kalikimaka.  I have many half written blogs but haven't had the brain to write.  The cat bite has set me back.   There are no words to describe the pain involved in a punctured achilles tendon. I'm learning that pain and brain power are very closely connected.  I have bouts of either the pain or the brain.  It sucks. 

My "agenda" in moving to Merida was personal rebirth.  I needed to overcome grief and sadness and reinvent myself.  I've had a difficult time reviving Christmas.  Our Christmases in Hawaii were special and unique.  First of all the cost of living there  is high, so the spirit of getting together and creating delicious meals together, enjoying each other's company, and in most cases not exchanging gifts other than a sweet tasting dessert was our norm.  We didn't live a typical American material life in Hawaii where Christmas was purely commercial and trendy and designed to impress.  The people there were more artsy and spiritual.  Besides, when you have to do all your Christmas shopping at WalMart or Costco your options are limited.  My forté wast to made ornaments, baskets, chile powders, etc.....I even hand made the tons of Christmas cards I sent out. I loved doing it.  Christmas made me happy.  We always had fun and friends around and often even family came out to the islands for a tropical holiday. We would go up to the top of Mt. Hualalai and pick out a Monterey pine tree at the Christmas tree farm. It was so much fun to don our hideous Christmas socks some aunties sent us the year before, put on our Santa caps, shorts, and hiking boots and head up the mountain a'carroling. 

I'm finally getting back into the spirit of the holiday.  We've had a decorated tree lighting the house for weeks and filling the air with the scent of pine, and the plan is to have a nice quiet time at home with the cats.  We received  little care packages and all have a few gifts to open, plenty of Christmas music to keep us in the mood, TV in the background with football, and plenty of turkey to overeat.
I dug out some old photos! Here I am meeting Santa the first time in 1953.

Mom and me in front of the aluminum tree.
I used to love Christmas.  As a kid in Toledo we had this tacky aluminum tree with the revolving blue, yellow, red and green lights behind it.  Mom and I would take the bus downtown to Christmas shop at the big department stores.  I loved to wrap, so that was always my job.  We always had presents to open, practical things like socks and sweaters, but fun things too.  I remember my brothers coming homr from college and going to midnight Mass together at St. Hedwig.  I think the service was in Polish and Latin.  I loved those Gregorian chants and trying to sing along with the Polish songs.  I never did take the church part too seriously.  I liked the singing and socializing. We could open our most of our gifts after church at 2am and have one egg nog.  In the morning we had a couple more presents to unwrap.  One year first thing in the morning my brothers had to play their new albums, I'm remembering the Righteous Brothers and Del Shannon at this moment, on my new record player.  Later we'd drive north to Monroe, Michigan, where we'd have a huge family dinner with my cousins Bill & Therese Noland and their gang of six.  Every Christmas day we'd wake up to the dirty snow of the city and spend the afternoon on the pure white snow covered river bank, a picture postcard of rural winter. 

A look down Lagrange Street toward St Hedwig Church taken in front of the house where we grew up.

Cousins' Noland house along the River Raisin.  The river is on the back side of the house. This shot was taken from the road. The house probably looks much like this photo today, decorated, snow covered.  It looks a lot like Christmas!

When I started reviewing photo albums of Christmases past, I remembered so many memorable Christmases that it cheered me up from the moment I started this post. I decided to publish this in installments.  I'd like to take this opportunity to ask everyone to reminisce on some of the great old family and friend Christmas gatherings you've had, in order to recreate some of the original intention of the spirit of the holidays.

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