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Barb Bliss

Fun Holiday Memories

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My mom used to LOVE the holidays, and as a kid the holidays (especially Christmas) were awesome.  Maybe a little magical.  Now I live over 700 miles from my closest living relative, and don't particularly want to spend 2 days in the car to spend time with her.  It's been an adjustment, and I tend to get nostalgic.  Though the first thing that hit me this year was a Christmas card I got years ago.  One November, this poor co-worker's house caught fire, and burned to the ground.  He got home just in time to see the flames billowing out of the windows.  He figured he'd should probably take a picture just in case the insurance company needed it.  Come December I received a Christmas card from them.  It was one of those "picture cards".  The picture was that picture of his  house burning down.  The text was "Warm wishes from your home to yours".  Even in tragedy, this guy was fun.

Edited by Barb Bliss
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Holidays are very important for my family. My family gathers at my house for Christmas (Thanksgiving we go to my parents’ house.) Over the years, we sort of “adopted” several others whose family has moved far away or passed on. Our “adopted” family members gather with the rest of us for food, fun, and board games. We try out new games unwrapped and pull out old favorites. I love how board games can bring us together, no matter if we are related or not. 

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A few years ago, I decided to do that thing where I drove home Christmas Eve to see my parents without them knowing I was coming.  I stealthily asked them a week before if they were planing on going anywhere (Rolled Subterfuge +5).  Once I knew they would be staying home, I drove 5 hours home and arrived at 8pm or so Christmas Eve.

I rang the doorbell, and my dad came to answer.  As soon as he saw me he burst out laughing, then opened the door and gave me the biggest hug I can remember giving me since I graduated college. 

"Merry Christmas dad," I said, with a s***eating grin on my face.  "Hello son," he said into my shoulder.  I asked him where mom was and he said she was upstairs in the living room.  I go up the stairs just as my mom comes out of the living room to find out what's going on.  She sees me and starts crying.  "You're home!" she says.  I give her a big hug and kiss and say Merry Christmas again.  And, because my mother is THAT Italian, the second sentence out of her mouth is, "are you hungry?"

Yeah, I enjoyed that Christmas Eve.

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My favorite Holiday memory actually involves a game of Jenga and my mother. My mom got us the game as a present that year. We also got a few small water guns for XMas that year as a gag gift. My brother, mother, and I were playing Jenga on our hardwood floors. We were sitting in a very tight circle grabbing our Jenga pieces and restacking them. The person who knocked over the tower, in addition to the feeling the shame of defeat, would also take a blast of water from the guns to the face at close range. Needless to say, my brother and I won a lot and had the joy of shooting my dear, sweet mom almost every time. She was laughing her wonderful laugh the whole time. She is missed every year as XMas was her favorite thing.

I look forward to reinstalling the "Water Gun to the Face" tradition this year with @Lindsey 

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About 25 years ago my nephew was about 1.5 years old.  My sister and I took him to see Santa.  He was pretty leery of this stranger in the red suit, at least until he was offered a candy cane by Santa.  On the way home, while in the child seat, he kept sucking on the candy cane, except for when he took it out and said "Cane!".  This is the same kid that figured out if he whipped his head around really fast, he could make himself dizzy.  He'd shake his head really fast, and then giggle.  Then 60 seconds, he'd do it again.

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One of my favorite Christmas memories was my daughter's first Christmas. She was ten months old and we were living several states away from my family. I could not afford to go home to see them and was really missing them. A friend of mine knew how I felt and set up a surprise for me. I was at her house and she told me she wanted me to open a gift early. It was a huge box that was half as tall as the tree. As I started to pull the paper off out popped my sister Romycat. I was very startled but then filled with so much joy. I was so happy to have family with me for my daughter's first Christmas.

Edited by Zenithsplendor
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5 hours ago, Zenithsplendor said:

One of my favorite Christmas memories was my daughter's first Christmas. She was ten months old and we were living several states away from my family. I could not afford to go home to see them and was really missing them. A friend of mine knew how I felt and set up a surprise for me. I was at her house and she told me she wanted me to open a gift early. It was a huge box that was half as tall as the tree. As I started to pull the paper off out popped my sister Romycat. I was very startled but then filled with so much joy. I was so happy to have family with me for my daughter's first Christmas.

That is worthy of a Folgers commercial.

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It was fun hiding in the box, waiting for my sister to come open it.  I remember that my young neice was confused why a person appeared from a box and she started crying. Still, it was fun.

It was also the first time I ever flew in a plane. I really love my sister to brave flying. We cats prefer keeping our feet on the ground...tree, bookshelf, house top. Okay, so we like high places, as long as we are the ones who put ourselves there.

Edited by RomyCat
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Let me take this in an entirely a different direction:

In December of 2007, I left a large, high stress office to work at one of the smaller competitors in town where a small group of my former team members had taken root.  Best Christmas present I ever gave myself.  I wasn't starting at the new office until after the 1st of the year, so as a bonus I actually resigned on the Thursday before Christmas and was technically "unemployed" for the holiday stretch while living on my accrued vacation time that paid out on my last check.

On Christmas Eve, we went to my mother inlaw's family gathering for dinner.  We don't see the extended family that often, they're generally judgy and unpleasant, and the initial exchanges always consist of the same handful of obligatory generic questions while they figure out what random thing I've done incorrectly so they can educate me.

So I lurked and waited, and finally got my chance for some fun.

Mother Inlaw: "So, how's work?"
Me: (casually) "Oh, I quit last week."
ML: "What??"
Me: (dead serious) "Yah, I quit." *shrug* "I decided I didn't like it anymore so I'm not going back."
ML: "You ... Quit?"
Me: "Yup...." (awkward silence)
The fact that I'm not joking is starting to register with mother inlaw.  She's now looking from me to my wife blinking, her mouth agape - and I can see the gears turning as her gaze finally settles on Mrs. Zoxe.  No words are coming out but all of her body language is screaming: I FRIGGIN' KNEW IT AND NOW YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO SUPPORT THIS LAZY JERK....

The silence stretches, and I'm intentionally letting it hang there. So many questions, so few answers.  

Finally, Mrs. Zoxe backhands me on the shoulder and with an exaggerated eye roll says, "Ok, tell her the rest...."

"Oh yah ... I start my new job of the 3rd.  Joining my old team a few miles down the road. Same pay, less stress, I'm really looking forward to it."

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They have been a lot of great holiday times in my live. Playing cards and boardgames in family, eating, drinking, sometime too much people inside, too hot but -35° to -45° outside. Playing cribbage, 500, poker, careers, monopoly, dealer's choice, pay day and masterpieces. Festing like the french canadian tradition to the sunrise. Remember the day of my mom have squeezed her nipple closing a sparkle wine bottle during a card game. I know that wasn't funny for her but everybody have laugtht so much, almost pissed in my pant. But time change, now she's gone about 15 years ago, but keeping every small moments in memories. There's a painting of her, 17 years old, 53 years ago, she was holding me in my few days of life, before my first Christmas in Montréal. 

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This holiday season will be a rough one for me as my Dad passed away this past weekend. In his passing, I'm reminded of my grandma (his mother, who passed away about 5 years ago) sending me gifts for my birthday or Christmas. Every package had a bag of Werther's Originals. For years I thought she sent them because she knows I have a sweet tooth, but one year she sent a note with them that said something to the effect of "Here we go again!". I was totally confused so I asked my dad about the note and he told me that apparently when I was like 7 or 8, I told her that they were my favorite candy and I only got to eat them when I came to visit their house, so that's why she sent them every time. She never told me about it, she just thought I knew.

Now, I get them for myself around this time of year to keep her in my memories.

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19 minutes ago, Ian Coyle said:

This holiday season will be a rough one for me as my Dad passed away this past weekend. In his passing, I'm reminded of my grandma (his mother, who passed away about 5 years ago) sending me gifts for my birthday or Christmas. Every package had a bag of Werther's Originals. For years I thought she sent them because she knows I have a sweet tooth, but one year she sent a note with them that said something to the effect of "Here we go again!". I was totally confused so I asked my dad about the note and he told me that apparently when I was like 7 or 8, I told her that they were my favorite candy and I only got to eat them when I came to visit their house, so that's why she sent them every time. She never told me about it, she just thought I knew.

Now, I get them for myself around this time of year to keep her in my memories.

Sorry to hear about your Dad @Ian Coyle I hope you still have a good holiday

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10 minutes ago, Ian Coyle said:

This holiday season will be a rough one for me as my Dad passed away this past weekend. In his passing, I'm reminded of my grandma (his mother, who passed away about 5 years ago) sending me gifts for my birthday or Christmas. Every package had a bag of Werther's Originals. For years I thought she sent them because she knows I have a sweet tooth, but one year she sent a note with them that said something to the effect of "Here we go again!". I was totally confused so I asked my dad about the note and he told me that apparently when I was like 7 or 8, I told her that they were my favorite candy and I only got to eat them when I came to visit their house, so that's why she sent them every time. She never told me about it, she just thought I knew.

Now, I get them for myself around this time of year to keep her in my memories.

So sorry to hear about your dad's passing.  My dad died over 20 years ago, but I still remember quite clearly that it was on December 7th a.k.a Pearl Harbor Day.  Every Christmas ramp up I think about him, and for a lot longer than I expected it would, his death threw a damp blanket on the holiday glow.   But, for me anyway, that damp blanket turned into warm memories about him.  I hope you can get to that place too.

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Thanks Barb and Lindsey. He definitely is gone too soon, he was only 57. His illness was unexpected, but after being in essentially a coma in the ICU for 7 weeks, we had time to prepare for his death (I was the "lucky" one who got to make his medical decisions). I know we made the decision he would have wanted at that time, but it still sucks to lose him so soon.

Edited by Ian Coyle
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1 minute ago, Ian Coyle said:

Thanks Barb and Lindsey. He definitely is gone too soon, he was only 57. His illness was unexpected, but after being in essentially a coma in the ICU for 7 weeks, we had time to prepare for his death (I was the "lucky" one who got to make his medical decisions). I know we made the decision he would have wanted at that time, but it still sucks to lose him so soon.

I'm glad you've been able to prepare.  My dad had been going down hill for a few years.   Several heart attacks had left him with less than 10% of his heart muscle still working.  Kind of amazing when you think about it.  Walking around for a couple of years on only a tenth of your heart functioning.  He had another "episode" at the end of November.  He'd bounced back from episodes several times before, but my evil sister decided to take a few days off and flew down to see him and my mom.  The other sister had just been down for Thanksgiving basically to say goodbye.  I already had planned to fly down on the 15th so I could do the same, so I decided to not fly down only to come back home and fly right back down again.  Joke was on me as he died on the 7th.  Missing out on saying goodbye screwed me up for quite a while.  Probably still is there a little bit as I got myself crying thinking about it just now.  So I'm glad you were able to be with him.  When I think about it, my dad did all right.  He fell to the kitchen floor with a look on his face that looked like "well I guess this is it".  He showed no indication that he was in pain, he wasn't alone, my mom was there, and she wasn't alone (her cousin and husband were there for dinner).

If you don't mind a little unsolicited advice, process your grief instead of letting it control you.  I wrote letters to him, to God, and to myself.  Some of them were angry (he knew he had a problem, but wasn't willing to cancel a vacation, so he had a massive heart attack on vacation instead of having a by pass surgery, and I knew he could die before I got there).  Some of them were forgiveness.  Some were thank yous.  I bought a bottle of Old Spice and some tissues, cracked open both, and wrote our history together.  It really helped let out all the bottled up emotions in a controlled environment so they didn't come flooding out when I didn't want them too (e.g. work, grocery store).  I was pretty much successful except for when I went into a Hallmark store for a birthday card, but saw the Father's Day card rack instead.  That jumped up and punched me in the face.  Schedule at least an hour each night for at least a month.  Keep at it.

I wish I could give you a big hug right now.  I'm not sure what's worse, losing a parent or having to be the parent for your parent.  They both suck.  Get as many hugs as you can until you don't feel like you need it anymore.  Tip: I got my dad's favorite camel hair suit jacket, and gave myself hugs while wearing it.

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Thanks for the kind words Barb. I feel like I'm doing ok for the most part. My dad was a life-long musician, and luckily he had a ton of recorded material that I now have, both tape/cd and also some video. So when I feel like I'm missing him more than usual, I can pull up a video and listen to him sing and play some of his favorite tunes. I'll share a couple here, you're of the generation that would appreciate his flavor of music, though it's mostly timeless in my opinion. Forgive the first as it's a transfer from a VHS recording, so there are some brief audio glitches.

 

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@Ian Coyle, how wonderful you have these memories.  My dad was a singer as well.  You're probably too young to know of it, but my dad won on a "Ted Mack Amateur Hour" show.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwi_04GuwYXYAhWj64MKHbmkCPQQFggnMAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FThe_Original_Amateur_Hour&usg=AOvVaw1r6_HMhr2WMhaM6lcFOBps

Note: this came up after your second video finished playing

 

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