Monday, December 19, 2011

From the Archives: Don't Sweat the Holiday Stuff-A Tale of Two Santas (

This post was originally published last year on Rock On Mommies.

When I think back on my childhood Christmases I have to say that, in my memory? They were perfect; filled with twinkling lights, beautiful music, yummy food and thousands of hugs. The other day I was having lunch with some of the other Rock On Mommies, and we went around the table sharing our favorite childhood holiday gifts.  I was shocked to discover that, although I can remember the way my Great-Aunt Rosie smelled (Giorgio) and I can remember my cousins playing “Silent Night” on their clarinets (shrill, but charming) I can’t really remember my presents very much.

That was really eye-opening. Especially when I think of the hours I’ve spent agonizing over getting just the right gifts for my family and friends. I have actually lost sleep. Over the presents.  Oh.

Then there’s all the hours making sure everyone arrives on time and that everything falls into place just so. Because I want the holiday to be perfect-just like I remember, right? But when I really looked at my memories (and the photos) I was shocked again to realize that what made those memories so warm and fuzzy for me was, in fact, all the imperfections.

My family lived in Southern California. We spent many Christmas mornings playing outside in our pajamas. Scarves and hats were worn for decorative effect only. And if you put all our homes together you’d be hard-pressed to find a chimney. Which caused a little concern in the Santa department for us kids.

My dad’s family solved the problem pretty effectively. Round about 7pm, my Grandfather would announce that he was suddenly very tired from all this Christmas stuff, and that he needed a nap. Then with a large and dramatic yawn, he’d retire to his room-which had it’s own door to the front yard. The shades would be drawn closed and a few moments later we kids would hear sleigh bells and then a loud knock on the front door before Santa burst into the living room. He had a real velvet and fur-trimmed suit, black boots and a giant muslin sack with filled with toys-one with each of our names on it. And also? He had olive skin, like us! While I cherish the memories of my Grandfather in that suit, I couldn’t possibly tell you what presents I got from Santa.
Perhaps because the “Santa Show” at my dad’s family home was so effective, my mom’s family decided to try it one year. Grandpa suddenly announced that he needed to get something out of the garage. Then a few moments later, sleighbells, a knock at the door, and then Santa burst into the living room. Only...he was wearing a plastic suit-very flimsy plastic, kind of like a red and white garbage bag (hey, it was the 70s). Anyway, as soon as Santa walked through the doorway, the corner of his “suit” caught on the hi-fi and the whole thing tore open like, well, a cheap red and white garbage bag.
Did Grandpa run and hide? Did the adults scramble to improvise an explanation? Did the kids cry? Nope. The entire house erupted in gales of laughter. Especially the kids. To this day, one of my favorite photos family photos ever is of my Grandma kissing a guffawing, disemboweled Santa.

You know, I don’t remember either of my grandfathers fretting or stressing out about Christmas. Or much else, really. They kind of just rolled with things and did what needed to be done. If one of the kids was being bratty or if the posole burned, oh well! The important thing was that we were all together again, safe under the same roof. And that was reason enough to celebrate.
My dad’s father passed away on Christmas Eve the year my first child was born and we sadly lost my mom’s dad just before Thanksgiving this year (during the memorial service we played a slideshow, and when the “Plastic Santa” photo came up, the entire family laughed-what a blessing!) In their memory I am planning to do everything I can to enjoy my family and laugh with them at all the imperfections of the season.

May you have an imperfect holiday full of laughter and hugs-with no mishaps that can’t be fixed with a bit of duct tape. I’d love to hear your hilarious Holiday gaffes-please share!

Wishing you love with extra cheese,
Nacho Mama

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