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Meaning and Mem ories A HOLIDAY CHARGEDWITH
Ever since I was little, Christmas has been a deeply special time for me and my family. Though this holiday is sure to be slightly different than years previous, since my mother-in-law sold the family
“Though we never had a whole lot of presents, it always felt like a day of abundance and wonder.”
home where we all used to gather for the holidays. But I’m certain we’ll be able to establish a new set of traditions and keep the spirit of Christmas intact.
— ridiculously delicious bite-sized pecan pies — or spicy cheese cookies, which, though they might sound odd, were absolutely mouthwatering. Spicy sausage balls, nut fingers with powdered sugar, and dozens of other options showed up over the years. We never knew what to expect, other than knowing it’d be some of the most delectable snacks we’d get to taste all year. During and even after the feast, we’d talk and eat until it felt like we couldn’t possibly have a single treat more. My father would then read the story of Christmas from the Bible, with an additional layer of drama courtesy of the shimmering candlelight. I can recall those moments with crystal clarity even now, because they were so powerful. After he was done, we’d each pick out a single gift to tear open from under the tree, and when it felt like we couldn’t possibly stay up another second, we’d head off to bed. When we awoke, we’d rush out to the living room and sit down together to open gifts. Though we never had a whole lot of presents, it always felt like a day of abundance and wonder. After Mom passed, we lost some of that magic, but it’s still an incredibly meaningful time for all of us. Though I’m not sure at the time of writing exactly where we’ll be for Christmas this year, I know the entire family — spouses, grandchildren, and all — will be together somewhere. To me, that’s what the holidays are all about.
Back in the day, Christmas was an
especially big deal for my mom, and she did everything possible to make it truly meaningful for us all. On Christmas
Eve, we’d gather in the living room while my mom lit candles
around the house. Then she’d turn out the lights, leaving us all
illuminated by this dim, flickering glow. It colored the night with a keen sense of closeness between each of us, centering the focus on my brother, sister, mom, dad, and me. For that evening, it felt like nothing else existed beyond the
boundary of the light.
Then we’d have a meal of delicious prime rib, accompanied by a staggering array of my mom’s signature hors d’oeuvres. To prepare for Christmas, she would spend hours making a wide range of tasty little treats, coming up with something new every year. Maybe there’d be a plate of pecan tassies
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