I miss the kind of Christmases I had growing up. I suppose it’s the same for a lot of people. But now, living so far away from my family and not being able to see them at Christmas I think my childhood Christmas memories have turned into something mythical.
I say “we” a lot in this. “We” is my best friend and I because I’m an only child and my best friend just about lived with me. So we weren’t even allowed to think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving. Finally we’d get my Mom to get out the Christmas boxes. We’d decorate the tree while we listened to music. Mom was in charge of doing the lights and putting the star on the tree but she let us put the rest of the decorations on. We had a big gingerbread house that I have no idea where it came from. But Wendy, my best friend, and I used to pinch pieces off and lick the frosting. I’m sure my Mom noticed but every year this house came out of its box and, after a while, Wendy and I couldn’t pinch any more off of it because it was rock hard!
In the lead up to Christmas, baking happened. When I was young I was in charge of baking chocolate chip cookies but as I got older I started to bake more and more. Lots of cookies, fresh bread, cakes made from scratch. I even made pizza because I was a fussy eater and I wanted something for the little kids to eat. One of my best memories is of me and my Dad cooking together. We made Black Forest Gateau with a dark cherry filling between the two layers. That was one of our success stories. Our biggest failure was the year we tried to make stuffed mushrooms. Neither of us had a clue what we were doing. The stuffing I remember was going to be either oysters or clams, I can’t remember which, and I can’t remember what else was mixed in. We put the stuffing mixture in the blender and blended…the stuffing turned snot green. We already weren’t sure if these things would see the light of day. We put them in the oven where they burned horribly, so they went right in the garbage. Still we had fun and we didn’t poison anyone.
Christmas Day itself was amazing, I wasn’t allowed in the living room until my Dad got up. Or should I say until it was an acceptable time to wake him up. Halfway through opening presents we had a break and had Pillsbury Cinnamon Buns with frosting baked fresh that morning.
Later in the day, around noon probably, the rest of my family would start to arrive. Everyone would bring a dish of food and we’d just sit around and eat and talk. Later we’d open presents, eat more and Wendy would come over at some point. It was always fun to see everyone because it was usually one of the only times of the year I’d see everyone.
My last Christmas before moving away was fun and sad. Not only would it be my last Christmas with my whole family, it was the last Christmas I’d ever spend in my childhood home. I tried to remember every detail of that day, to burn it all into my memory. The one thing — the one memory — that stands out though is of me coming out of the bathroom after my shower. My Mom is standing there, looking frazzled and laughing. She tells me when she was moving the Christmas tree out of the middle of the room to make space for everyone, the tree broke and fell on her. I looked into the living room and saw the Christmas tree leaning drunkenly in the corner. I should point out that this was the only Christmas tree I ever remember my parents owning. I suppose that was a fitting end to Christmases at home with my family.
A few words about me
Tiff Franks is a Mindfulness teacher and is studying to be a meditation teacher. She loves to crochet, read and listen to music. Tiff believes that boxes and labels are not for people. She happily identifies as a time traveling hippie, a tom boy with girl tendencies who is out of phase with her generation and yours. She also believes that letting your weirdness shine is a beautiful thing. Be weird, stand out, be you and be proud. Tiff grew up in WA state and now lives in the UK with her husband Mal and their cat Clara.