Yahoo! News asked writers from the Yahoo! Contributor Network to share their personal holiday tales and traditions. Below is a story from a contributor.
[Your Voice: What holiday stories or traditions do you have to share? Sign up to contribute.]
One of the things I’ve come to really recall fondly from my youth are the holiday traditions.
Our holidays were simple enough. My mom, dad, brother, and I would always spend Christmas with just us four.
“The core unit,” my dad would say. I’d of course roll my eyes.
We weren’t church going folk for most of my youth, but two days that were required church-going were Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday. Our Christmas Eve traditions would quite literally happen the same way every year. We would all have a formal, early dinner at 5 or 5:30 p.m. It was always something none of us really liked; usually ham or something like that. Then we would all wash up, my messy little brother would inevitably have to change his shirt or pants from some dinner food-spill (yet every year we got dressed for dinner) and then we would hit the local scene.
Our church was on Deer Hill Avenue; the First Congregational Church of Danbury, Conn. This was in “city-center.” My family and I lived on the east side of town. So the local scene was our early purview of the neighbor’s decorations and light displays. We would cruise from our street, up Great Plain Road, hang a left at Hawley Road and make a right up Stadley Rough Road. These were the nicer main thoroughfares in our neighborhood with many of the older, bigger homes full of older, bigger money.
Once our tour of our neighborhood was complete we would go to church for the 7 p.m. service. My dad and I would quibble over the singing of the carols or who got to hand over the money envelope. Then we’d see my friend Nash and his family. The Simcoes were Nash, dad John, mom Patty, and sister Elise. Nash was my age and we had become close in school, getting in trouble as kids do. Nash and his family had come to Connecticut after the commencement of elementary school; I think Nash came to my grade at Shelter Rock elementary school in third grade. Nash joined up in Connecticut from Chicago; I joined up the class at Shelter Rock in first grade from New Hampshire so we were always shared a certain dissonance from the harmony which we felt the other kids had. It would be years later when I’d discover that Nash and I had no greater problems than most every other kid. Everywhere.
At the conclusion of the service we would head back to the car and break out my dad’s Christmas mix tape. We wouldn’t listen to the tape on the way to church; I’m not sure if that were my dad just being pious and respectful or what but this was the way that it went. His mix tape was actually pretty good; Greg Lake, The Pretenders, Jim Croce, and Jose Feliciano sat shoulder to shoulder with classics from Bing Crosby, Harry Belafonte, Nat King Cole, and the Boston Pops.
Our trip home would take us to the nice houses on the west side of town near church. Deer Hill Ave, Wooster Heights and homes around Lake Tarrywhile might have been my dad’s way of instilling in my brother and I that a better life was indeed possible for us if we worked hard and set goals.
Our trip home would always end on our street, Tamanny Trail. We would carefully crawl down our tiny dead end street — already very familiar with all of our neighbors Christmas displays. Dad’s reasoning for this was likely to show my brother and I that the best things in a person’s life are the things which are closest to you. So close that you maybe even never bother to notice their simple beauty.
My dad would always say to the 10-year-old incarnation of myself and my five year old brother: “One day you’ll remember these fondly.” Of course I’d disagree, going over the litany of reasons why playing video games or hanging out with friends was so much better. Of course, video games are long gone from my life and, were it not for Facebook, I wouldn’t know where the heck any of those friends were at all. As I pull the microscope back and examine my life thus far, it’s curious to see what I miss dreadfully and the things I’ve quite simply forgotten.
Merry Christmas everyone. Relish every moment.