About Me

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Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in teaching, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with advanced degree from R.I. School of Design. Published first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. Her humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. See website By CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Favorite Christmas Memory

My husband comes from a large Irish family in Massachusetts.  To be specific, he is the oldest of five brothers and twin sisters.  Among the next generation are eleven grandchildren (and now twenty-three great-grandchildren).  The clan gathered at Granny’s house for every holiday except July 4th, when we were all at the beach.        

On Christmas Eve we piled the car with presents for each niece and nephew and Charley’s parents, and then all of us piled in – Charley and me, our two boys, my parents, and sometimes my sister and her husband. On this particular Christmas Eve, Granny and Grandpa were living in a two-story cottage.  It consisted of a kitchen, small dining and living room, and an enclosed sun porch.  Upstairs were two bedrooms and a bathroom.

With the temperature near zero, we spilled out of the van into the kitchen, hugging and kissing whoever was there and spilling their drinks in the process. We dropped our presents under the tree, leaning down to kiss each niece and nephew as we passed.  One nephew weaved a new Big-Wheel among the legs of the adults, screeching like a siren as he went.  A two-year-old pulled the bell on his new fire engine as he made his way to a fire. They’d been unable to wait.

Granny had the buffet set up in the dining room, where smells mingled from baked ham, lasagna, sliced roast beef for sandwich-making, sweet potatoes, and Granny’s famous potato salad.  My sister-in-law Joanne brought her blueberry and pecan pies and one of Charley’s sisters brought a cake.  Sugar cookies decorated with red and green crystals waited for the kids.

The tiny living room bulged with a love seat, a lounger, and folding chairs.  My parents and my sister squeezed together on the love seat.  I headed for a drink in the kitchen. “Time to eat,” Granny announced.

A hungry mob almost ran me over, stampeding toward the dining room.  With drink in hand, I followed and eventually found the arm of the lounger as my place to perch.“Can we open our presents now?” the grandchildren begged who hadn't received riding toys.  They'd only eaten a couple of bites.

The sound of ripping paper and screeches of joy filled the tiny living room, as our sons and their cousins found their gifts under the tree. Parents couldn't keep up with who'd given what to whom.  Torn paper and ribbons soon littered the floor.  Adults who weren't parents pinned themselves against the outer extremities of the walls.  Amid the chaos, a dispute broke out between two cousins.  "Mine!" yelled the little one, trying to dislodge his older cousin from the seat of his Big Wheel.  He used his only defense mechanism - he bit.  Teeth marks drew blood, howls filled the room, and Granny flew upstairs for iodine and a band-aid.

Eventually trash bags appeared amid the mayhem.  Parents stuffed wrapping paper and ribbons in dark green bags and attempted to round up their kids' toys into a family bag.

At midnight we got our gear together and dispersed into the freezing cold.  The inside of our noses stuck together. Charley’s brother's SUV was stuck in front of us and needed a jump start, which Charley provided.  The two of them ran into the warm refuge of the kitchen, where the rest of us waited. 

We arrived home around 2 a.m. to grab a few hours' sleep before Santa’s appearance.  Thankfully, we'd already put together all the gifts with small parts.  My exhausted parents, sister, and brother-in-law pulled themselves upstairs.

The next morning after Christmas breakfast we opened our gifts and retrieved the bag from Grandma’s house.  Anticipating their new hockey gloves and head phones, the boys discovered only wrapping paper, tissue, ribbons, and torn gift cards!  We’d taken home a bag of garbage.

Thirty years later, I remember the laughter more than any of our missing gifts.
Patience Brewster, artist and designer of handmade ornaments and holiday decor (http://www.patiencebrewster.com/ornaments.html), helped inspire this
holiday memory.