Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Club - the Command Performance

Jay and I celebrated our first Christmas together in 1984, having met in January of that year. We got engaged in July and moved into an apartment together.

I recall that first year we only had a small tree table and this ornament was one of our gifts.

That year also began what became a fourteen year tradition of "going home" for Christmas.  "Going home" meant to Elmira, New York - to my last childhood home and where some of my younger siblings still resided.

We jokingly called going home "The Command Performance".  Because Mom expected us to be home for Christmas. And none of us had the balls cajonies nerve to go against Mom's wishes - even if we had other ideas about what to do for Christmas.  Luckily we didn't really have other ideas.

Everyone gathered at Mom's house on the afternoon of Christmas Eve.  We would attend a candlelight service at church, and then head back home where Mom had a buffet of finger sandwiches, chocolates, Christmas cookies and assorted condiments - it was truly a culinary feast and just the beginning of the overindulgence.

This photo is from 1985 - the Computer Geek (formerly known as The Accountant) and I, and my baby sister Elizabeth who was 5 at the time.

Christmas Eve tended to run very late - and as we got older and added more spouses, and then our own children to the mix, it became quite the chaotic affair. But one I wouldn't have traded for anything.

Christmas morning we would all gather and open gifts (which was loud, noisy, messy, and chaotic) and then help prepare the traditional Christmas feast.  By this time we had graduated to the "grown up" table and the "kids table" began being populated with our own children and their cousins.

With Mom's grandchildren added to the mix, Christmas Eve began to include a visit from Santa Claus (aka Uncle Frankie) who actually did a paid stint as Santa every year and came to Mom's house when he was done for the night - usually pushing close to midnight. Which led to some very tired, hopped up on sugar, wild grandchildren!

Like this crew from 1996 -  Becca was afraid of Santa, but didn't mind getting this close - just not on his lap!

And those lovely dresses were made by the girls' Nana - who had a tradition for a short while of making them the most beautiful matching clothes every year.

Sadly, this was the last year for the full-blown Christmas bash at Mom's house and the visit from Santa.

The Christmas of 1997 Mom was confined to a bed in the family room, where she participated as much as she could, and we were all there, but she was no longer running the show.  She died in February 1998 of renal cancer.  And I am so grateful now to have the memories of so many years of wonderful Command Performance Christmases!

I'm participating in Sian's Christmas Club - you can join HERE.


Melissa said...

Cheri, a great story. So glad you have all those years of memories! Love those matching dresses on the girls.

Becky said...

What a wonderful memory to share - how lovely to have such happy memories of you mother. Wishing you a very happy Christmas this year.

scrappyjacky said...

They sound like amazing family christmases, many memories to cherish forever.
That photo of your girls is just gorgeous as well.

Sian said...

Just beautiful Cheri. I love the photos you added (especially the 1985 one as I remember what I was doing that year too - it was our first Christmas together). And you reminded me about those first couple of years when we had to work out whose family we were going to and what our own traditions were going to be. Happy times though and you have conjured up the progression over the years with such sensitivity. Thannk you.

debs14 said...

Some lovely Christmas memories there, thank you for sharing.
And those hand made dresses are simply beautiful!

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post Cheri. Your love for your mum and your family shines through every word. I love those cute dresses too.

Amy said...

Cheri, you now have me remembering the 'adults' and kids' tables set up - we had that at my grandmother's house too, I was always on the adult table as I was the eldest grandchild by several years ... I always had mixed emotions about that scenario!
I love those dresses, the girlies are such little cuties pies .... not that they would like to hear that now I am sure!

Anonymous said...

This is such a beautiful story, Cheri. So many of the Christmas Club posts are jogging my memories of Christmases past. I had hoped to participate, but that has fallen by the wayside. I am starting a list, however, so they will get told one way or another. Thanks for sharing--and those girls and their dresses are so lovely.

humel said...

Beautiful, beautiful story, Cheri. Thanks so much for sharing this. I have tears in my eyes! xx

Anonymous said...

I'm all teared up. Lovely memories.

quiltingfool said...

I, too, am so glad you have all those wonderful memories to bring back every year. I remember how you sometimes groused about "having" to attend the command performance, and how you wanted to establish your own traditions. Now aren't you glad you went? And your Mom made everything so beautiful and so fun. She had a knack for making Christmas (and so much else) special. I hope the girls at least remember a little of it. Remember the box full of unsent cards she gave me before she died? All the stuff she "meant" to send but never got around to. I loved her too, and miss her every day of my life. I miss having little girls to make dresses for too.

Unknown said...

Such a great story and memory... I love hearing about others' Christmas traditions, past or current. Great photos too! In the first one you look so AWAKE and EXCITED! ;)

Cheryl said...

What a beautiful post, Cheri. Thanks for sharing your memories with us.

Alana said...

Thankyou for sharing these beautiful memories of you christmas pasts.