Ghost of Christmas Past (Revisited)

The newly-crowned Princess Wanderlust Scarlett has tagged me for a most glorious Christmas meme–to write about 12 of my favorite Christmas things. I’m choosing to write about 12 of my favorite Christmas memories over the years.

I will fulfill my meme-ly duties in due time, but for now, Scarlett’s tag reminded me of a general Christmas memory post that I put up last year around this time.


Now let’s revisit “Ghost of Christmas Past” from December 17, 2006:

I am a loyal reader of Petite Anglaise, and her December 13 post has been resonating with me for days now. Petite is separated from the father of her young child, and in this entry, she admits struggling to make Christmas special for Tadpole, as she calls her daughter.

If you’ve read my 100 things about me, you know that my parents were divorced when I was very young. And so, I’ve been in the shoes of Tadpole–having adults around me trying to make everything seem normal when, it turns out, I suppose it wasn’t (whatever “normal” means anyway).

So the more I’ve thought about Petite and Tadpole, the more I’ve been thinking about my own childhood Christmases–and the more I’ve felt the need to write this post.

By Christmases (plural), I mean that we had two every year. If today were 20 years ago, this might have been the morning that I woke up at my Mom’s house, opened gifts, and then prepared for our Christmas dinner, which usually included my father and his family.

That’s because one or two weeks before the big day, we had “Mom’s Christmas,” a full celebration only a little early. More than the early gifts, though, the highlight for me was the unveiling of Mom’s cookies–chocolate chips, Michigan rocks, ricotta, kolaches, butter pressed, pizzelles. Of course, some time in the weeks before, we had decorated the cut-outs, which involved a couple of my girlfriends and a slumber party.*

Man I’m missing home (and childhood) right about now.

Anyway, some of the reason behind having two Christmases was that my mom is a nurse and always worked Christmas day; on actual Christmas morning, she usually came over to my father’s house for a little while.

But I’m sure the bigger reason was that with two full holidays, nobody missed out on a family Christmas experience. In fact, as kids, we were blessed with double the fun.

And the best part was that all of this seemed completely normal to me even though I knew the other kids at school weren’t having the same deal (suckers!). Now, as an adult, I see that this was the plan. And it worked.

Don’t buy it? My testimonial not enough?

Take Exhibit A, then, depicting what the two Christmas set-up made my normally curmudgeonly grandfather (may he rest in peace) do to himself one year:

Pap (Holiday Cheer) Pap

See, Christmas miracles do happen.

*These are not the actual recipes my Mom uses. As you can surely understand, these are top secret and under heavy guard. I did, however, try to find some that are close to hers.

33 Beans of Wisdom to “Ghost of Christmas Past (Revisited)”
  1. Gil

    Are you sure that you didn’t have anything to do with the bows? Nice post.

  2. sognatrice

    *Gil, I swear I didn’t! The funniest thing was that everyone was opening gifts, stockings, otherwise occupied, and I just happened to turn around and see him all bowed up. If you knew my grandfather, this was *so* out of character for him. Too funny, but hey, it was Christmas (well, really 2 weeks before)! Thanks for your comment πŸ™‚

  3. Robin

    Very funny photo!!! Bet you wish someone would just drop him off at the post office and send him for Christmas- it could be your present!!!

    My Melange

  4. Anna L'americana

    Yes, Robin said….., but the package would never be delivered, and she would have to go pick him up somewhere in a customs warehouse way out of town, swear as to his contents, pay overdue postage, a fee on the overdue postage, a fine for not picking him up without being notified, a further tax for being a “straniera”, and a big fat customs tariff even though he was clearly labeled “gift”…………….and this 5 months after he was sent! (you’d have him by Easter?)

  5. sognatrice

    *Robin, what a gift it would be! Alas, my grandfather has passed away, so really whenever I want to see him, I give him a holler and he comes to visit me in my dreams anyway πŸ™‚

    *Anna, too funny, and it would be even funnier if you weren’t right!

  6. Fran

    Your post warmed my heart. Because I can relate. My parents divorced when I was a baby. I don’t even remember them ever being together. But their one success was that they wanted their daughter to have as normal a childhood as possible and they did that. I always felt very special because they always made me feel loved.

    Thank you for bringing back good memories!


  7. Taffiny

    Oh we had two Christmases too! The same goes for just about all the holidays. My parents got divorced when I was between first and second grade.
    My dad moved around quite a bit, and wasn’t usually around, and when he was we met at his parent’s house, so then even when he wasn’t around we still went to their house, every other weekend.

    So Nana and Pop got us Christmas eve, which we celebrated as Christmas, and got us the day before, or the day after, or weekend after all major holidays (Easter, Thanksgiving.). Only getting the fourth of July on the actual date. (though I do think they got us some Easter mornings, they just had to send us off with our mom for the rest of the day).

    After College, off and on, I lived with my Nana and Pop, and to her dying day, she still complained that they didn’t have us all to themselves on any holiday, and how sad it was how often they had to pick other days then the actual holidays to celebrate with us. I tried to explain that they didn’t really have custody, my dad had partial but was never around, so my mom wasn’t being stingy, she didn’t really have to let us spend any holiday time with them at all. This did nothing to make her feel better.

    I guess what I didn’t understand was that their son was away (and their daugher had died), and every holiday on the actual day they didn’t have family festivites, so they felt gipped. My brother and I, on the other hand, got two Easters, two Chrismases, and two Thanksgiving dinners. We were quite happy!!

    When my Nana and Pop died, it went to just one celebration for each holiday ( I miss them and the love and magic they brought into my life). My brother, however has managed to still have two celebrations. He has to go both with his wife to her family funcitons, and then bring her and the kids to ours. And since no one’s mother will surrender the day, he goes to one for the first half of the day, her family’s, and then to ours for the second half. My mom is always saying “are you sure you don’t want more turkey?” and he is always saying “I just ate!”.

    I went on far too long, I am sorry, but your post brought back many memories to me (happy ones). πŸ™‚

    I hope neither of your parents felt gipped!

  8. Tarie

    *sigh* I think 90% of my Christmases have been Daddy-less. :o( Your double Christmases sound great! *jealous* It’s a good thing this year I can spend Christmas with my mom, brothers, AND dad. :o)

  9. nyc/caribbean ragazza

    Thanks for sharing that post again. Like you, I am really homesick right now. πŸ™

  10. Karina

    This was a beautiful post Sognatrice! It’s wonderful that your parents managed to not only make you feel “normal” (whatever that is, as you said) but even a little more special than the other kids, who only got ONE Christmas.

    And that photo of your grandpa? Priceless!

  11. Maddy

    I can’t even imagine having two. One is more than enough to cope with.
    Best wishes

    This is my calling card or link“Whittereronautism”until blogger comments get themselves sorted out.

  12. sognatrice

    *Fran, so happy to have brought back good memories for you! And kudos to your parents πŸ™‚

    *Taffiny, thanks so much for sharing your memories; I can see how your grandmother wouldn’t be comforted with a logical argument, but it sounds like everyone was doing the best they could, and really, that’s all we can ask, right? I’m sure my mo felt a little cheated throughout the years, but I did usually spend New Year’s Eve with her, some Thanksgivings (when she wasn’t working)…it was difficult with her work schedule, but I think it taught me early on that maybe the day itself isn’t what’s so important as that the family is together–probably why I have no qualms with celebrating Thanksgiving on a Sunday over here πŸ˜‰

    *Tarie, well I’m happy that you’re happy for this year! Woohoo!

    *NYC, time to start making our own traditions, eh?

    *Karina, glad you enjoyed the post and the photo. I just love that picture πŸ™‚

    *Maddy, as a kid, 2 Christmases? Are you kidding?! It was AWESOME! And that’s probably why I actually love the holidays so much–it was always a joyous time in my houses, and I’m so very grateful for that πŸ™‚

  13. Wanderlust Scarlett

    Sognatrice, you naughty girl! I can’t believe you wrote that! *giggle/blush*… sheesh… you’re getting chocolate coal in your stocking young lady!

    Love the rest of it… Christmas memories and things that are so sweet and special… real precious moments that live within us forever… so good. Thank you.

    And, that photo of your grandpa is something else, WOW! What a good sport, and what lovely holiday spirit. Think you could get one of P like that?

    I’m so glad all your Christmas decor is up at home, now to get it all up on the blog…

    Big hugs,
    Scarlett (Viaggiatore is napping by the fireplace just now…)

  14. cheeky

    I love the photo. I’m sure it made it even more memorable because it was out of character for him.

    I love thinking back about childhood memories. Like you, I have so many fond ones and they do give me a warm fuzzy feeling.

    Hats off to your parents for being able to remain friendly. It’s an example we can all earn from.

    Sending heaps of Christmas cheer and joy to you and P.


  15. cheeky

    *not sure we can earn from it, but *learn* from it, yes! πŸ™‚

  16. cheeky

    *not sure we can earn from it, but *learn* from it, yes! πŸ™‚

    and . . . i’d love to do the meme if you have a free slot.

  17. sognatrice

    *Scarlett, I have *no* idea what you’re talking about πŸ˜‰ I’ll have to see if I can get P to pose with bows, but I’m not holding my breath….

    I’ll start posting my 12 memories shortly, and hopefully be able to incorporate some photos of the house πŸ™‚

    *Cheeky, thank you, as always, and I honestly didn’t see the typo at all until you commented again! And feel free to start writing for the meme…you shall be tagged πŸ™‚

  18. cheeky

    Comment # 4 to explain why I left 2 and then 3……….oops!
    I only meant to leave a second one but midstream stopped it, not knowing it went through, only to add the second bit to the second comment about doing the meme. Still with me? LOL
    Then I saw the third appear, oh dear!
    Now I must leave a fourth to “expalin myself”. Which I probably made of mess of anyway.
    I know you will understand, as you know how these *things* make me cookoo.

  19. sognatrice

    *Cheeky, hah! I’m with you! You really didn’t need to explain in the fourth as I kind of guessed what happened, but, hey, I love comments! Keep ’em coming πŸ˜‰

  20. Mrs. G.

    I heart Christmas miracles. Great picture. Very sweet.

  21. Christine

    That is one of the funniest pictures I’ve seen in a while. I’m thinking, you holiday cards for next year? It’s just perfect.

  22. Currier Quinn Balent

    Your grandfather looks like he was quite the character! Is this the same grandfather that thought Kit Kats were more cookie than candy? ADORABLE!

  23. Kataroma

    I had two Christmases every year as well. It actually worked out perfectly because my dad is Swedish and Swedes celebrate Christmas on the 24 Dec. Mum then had me pretty much to herself on the 25th.

    I do, however, rememeber some nastiness over Thanksgiving (we lived in the US then) and other holidays. It was kind of a turf war and really horrible for me as a kid. Once I had to eat two Thanksgiving dinners on the same day. And each parent wanted me to eat large portions and not “save room” for the other.

  24. sognatrice

    *Mrs G, glad you enjoyed πŸ™‚

    *Christine, my Pap would just *love* to be a Christmas card πŸ˜‰

    *Coleen, yes, he’s one and the same πŸ™‚

    *Kataroma, ugh. I had a double-Thanksgiving once when I was already an adult, and it wasn’t fun. I empathize πŸ™

  25. rokson

    Well, just thought you should know that today was a snow day for us, which prompted me to make some cut-outs with the girls, which in turn made me think of decorating cookies at your mom’s, which made me think of you, which made me check out your blog, which made me read the Christmas blog, which happened to mention Christmas cut-outs at your mom’s (see a pattern here?), which made me finally post a comment! I often long for a good slumber party. They are some of my most favorite memories! I miss you. By the way, the cookies we made….not so good. The girls are 5 and 2 after all.

  26. sognatrice

    *Hey! So happy to see you here! Some memories those slumber parties…and soon your daughters will be ready for them. You think they’ll make mountains of sofa cushions to jump into and record themselves both extemporaneously and performing skits on pink boom boxes?

    Or perhaps that time has passed πŸ˜‰

  27. erin

    lovely memories…and this photo made me laugh again (from the last post as well!)

  28. sognatrice

    *Erin, thanks; glad you liked it πŸ™‚

  29. Karen

    Hi sognatrice!

    I chuckled at your picture – this reminds me of my father. He’s very serious and has a dry sense of humor, but I could totally see him doing this – with no one paying attention. lol

    Thank you so much for entering the contest (and for that wonderful story!) and good luck! Voting begins soon; don’t forget to send your readers over to vote for you!

    Write From Karen

  30. sognatrice

    *Karen, thanks for stopping by! I’m glad you appreciated the photo…it sure did bring some holiday cheer to our house that year πŸ™‚

  31. 10.29.2008

    You write very well.

    Thanks Myra πŸ™‚

  1. [...] grandfather was reportedly always a gruff, crotchety man; I think that’s because he was saving tha...



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