A big ol’ bowl of Christmas

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There are many Christmas traditions I miss – those familiar happenings that only my dad could have created.  He was the biggest kid when it came to Christmas.  He would bravely face the busiest malls leading up to the holidays and no expense was spared. Our tree overflowed with gifts,  the food and drink were abundant and the festivities began bright and early each year with a barrage of Beach Boys music at 6:00 am on that merry morning.  And in the subsequent years, long after I had moved out of the house, that music still sounded when he called me at that same hour to make sure I was up and getting ready to head over.  (side note:  I took a break after writing this paragraph to surf Facebook and one of the videos I turned on was Beach Boys music – got the message loud and clear Dad!)

Our Christmas dinners were much-anticipated.  The turkey was always perfect, the mashed potatoes and gravy were unrivaled and nobody made stuffing like my mom.  We were always thankful for copious amount of food because that meant turkey sandwiches, Turkey Tetrazzini and, of course, my dad’s famous Turkey soup.

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(image credit)

It took me years to figure out why his soup was so good.  I’ve known lots of homes that had the stock simmering and the soup ready the next day but none of those creations even held a candle to my dad’s soup.  It wasn’t until I paid faithful attention that I realized his closely guarded secret when it came to his ingredients.

Each holiday celebration when we have a turkey, I happily pack up the leftovers to recreate dad’s soup and I am confident that my dad would be proud of the results.  When all is said and done, our turkey soup tastes just like Christmas dinner in a bowl.  It’s thick and it has all the components of a full turkey dinner.

I no longer call it Turkey Soup.  It is called Christmas soup, and for good reason.  It takes all the elements of our celebration from the carefully cooked bird, to all of the tasty side dishes, to the laughter at my nephew pointing out that his Under Armor Boxers were on backwards, and simmers all of that magic together in a pot.  It is a soupcon of memories, a fragrant blend of cherished moments, tears and laughter that make up our holiday season.

This years’ Christmas soup is simmering on the stove as I type this blog entry and I’m sure my dad would be happy that his post-festivity creation lives on in the kitchen of our past, present and future holiday celebrations.

 

 

 

 

An answer with a question

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“You can keep asking.  I’m not going to tell you.”

She practically begged him, “I just want a hint.”

“I did not purchase a ring.”

Her shoulders deflated.

“I bought you a circle of gold.”

He knelt and handed her the box.

~~

microstories245

 

 

 

 

What I want for Christmas

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Dear Santa,

I hope this letter finds you well and feeling jolly for the upcoming week.

I have spent many hours considering what I would like for Christmas this year.  I do believe you will find my name on the nice list so I thought I would save you some time when it came to my gift.

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I want life experience for my gift this year.  I want to sit in a room with my family and laugh until we cry because the joke is something only we would understand.  I want my brother and I to share a toast to my parents and take a moment to remember my dad waking us up at 6:00 am by cranking the Beach Boys vinyl album and my mom inevitably leaving a price tag on at least one of our gifts and then finding the last hidden gift sometime in April.

I want to really watch my nephews this year as they tear open their mountain of presents.  It seems like only yesterday they had no real concept of what was happening and now I’m going to blink and they will be off to University and, soon after that, having Christmases of their own.

I want to embrace the friends I have and let them know how lucky I feel to be able to call them friends.  I want to take a quiet moment or two during the holidays and reflect on all of the wonderful things that happened to me throughout the course of the year.  And I want the words “I love you” to be a comfortable phrase that gets shared a lot, and not just during the holidays.

I know you are a busy man this time of year so I shall leave it at that.  I’ll be waving at you on Christmas Eve as we stand at the end of my brother’s driveway and watch you go by on the Fire Truck as have every year since I was seven.

Merry Christmas from Susan.

#heartgrew3sizes

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My early Christmas memories consist of an overflowing Christmas tree with presents that never seemed to end.  As as child, I thought that was normal.  I lived with the belief that every voice in the world was hoarse from saying thank you after each gift had been torn open.   I assumed every house was just like mine and every child was lost in a sea of wrapping paper, ribbons and tags after the last gift had been opened.

But that mound of brightly decorated paper blinded me from the reality I would come to know as I got older.  My Christmas was not the normal image of the holiday celebration.  The large roasted turkey and all the accompanying dishes that adorned our table did not magically appear in every other house on Christmas day.  When I learned that fact, my happiness was changed.

I had been oblivious to reality until I was in my last years of public school.  I honestly don’t even remember if there were food and toy drives when I was that age.  I just recall the anticipation of Christmas morning, not even realizing that there were kids I went to school with that may not see anything under their tree on December 25th.

Over the last three years, the Christmas tree that has become most important to me is the one in our hotel lobby.  It has become a temporary home for gifts that we have collected or purchased with the generous donations of our many supporters.   This tree overflows, much like the one I remember from my youth, but it will bring smiles to many more kids than just the two children who stumbled upon our family Christmas tree on that much-anticipated morning every year.

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This tree holds the hope that so many more children will be able to open a gift on Christmas morning.  This tree embodies the true essence of Christmas because the gifts that lay under its branches come from people who will not get the gift of seeing a child’s smile as they open their presents on Christmas day.  This tree truly represents the spirit of giving.

I can only hope that my future Christmas celebrations will embody the generosity I have seen over the last three years.  And my Christmas wish is that everyone takes a moment to remember those less fortunate, especially during the holidays.  The season is about giving to everyone…..not just the ones on your list.

 

 

Being a human pinball isn’t so bad

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The Christmas Spirit has ruthlessly stalked me, once again, and dug its talons into my inner-elf.  Yesterday I spent the better part of the afternoon spending money that has been generously donated to our 3rd Annual Toy Drive at Shamrock Lodge and strategically placing those purchases around our tree in the front office.

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I have never been a big fan of Christmas shopping but the last three years of managing this toy drive have given me a reason to slightly alter my thinking.  My dad was a big fan of fighting holiday crowds to shop at the largest malls in Toronto.  My traumatic experience with that is described in this post.  But I now understand a bit of the glee he felt.

I became immersed in the spirit of giving and the outside noise of the store slowly fell into silence.  I was in a holiday bubble and the more I shopped the happier I felt.  Feeling like a pinball in an super-sized Christmas pinball game was a minuscule annoyance compared to the immense reward.  A few hours of doing something I am not fond of to make a child smile at Christmas was well worth the discomfort.