A Memorable Christmas Eve

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a memoir of a traditional Christmas Eve spent with my Italian side of the family.

Submitted: April 26, 2011

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Submitted: April 26, 2011

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“I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus underneath the mistletoe last night.” As I fight to open my eyes, I hear the faint sound of Christmas tunes. The sky is grey and the air is stiff as I open the window in my bedroom that December morning. I am standing in the room I grew up in, surrounded by childhood memories, athletic trophies, and snow globes my parents brought back to me from their many vacations. I look at my walls and the memory of begging my parents to sponge paint them comes flooding back to me. I remember going to the store to pick out the shade of pink we were going to use to create the effect of clouds on my walls. This would complete the ‘big girl’ room I could not live without. Standing in the center of my room, I thought of how far I have come over the years and how wall colors and athletic trophies are just part of my past now. As I walk down the stairs yelling to my brother to get out of the shower, I hear a large commotion happening somewhere downstairs. I enter the kitchen and find my mother, red faced and stiff as a board, staring deeply into my father’s eyes, ready to attack. It is easy to tell that my mom is getting nervous about the company we are expecting later in the day and my father is not helping the cause. My dad calmly turns around said, “Good morning sleepy head. I hope that you are well rested because we have a busy day today!” As he is talking, I walk over to the kitchen table and sneak a few Christmas cookies for breakfast. Without even turning around, my mother yells, “Lisa, put the cookies down and get in the shower, I could really use your help before everyone arrives”. I decide to listen to my mom because I do not want to get her any more upset than she already is. I begin thinking, Why am I the only one who has to help out? Why do Ricky and Steven get away scot-free and I am the designated servant? As I get to the top of the landing, I feel a cloud of steam hitting my face. This can only mean one thing, my brother just got out of the shower. It is a well-known fact that Ricky takes a very long and hot shower. If possible, I always try to get in the shower before him because he uses up all the hot water! But today, I was just not that lucky. As I step onto the tile in the bathroom, I feel my foot begin to slide out from under me. This cannot be happening right now. I better begin to brace myself. It happens in a split-second and before I know it, I am laying with my back against the tile, looking straight up at the ceiling. Without another thought, I know exactly what happened. I stay on the floor as my brother runs in to find me. My hands are clenched, my face is red and I am furious. He smiles slyly at me, and just says he is sorry. I hear myself begin to yell at him and say, “Ricky, what the hell do you do when you come out of the shower. The floor is soaking wet as if you stepped out while the water is still running. Look what you made me do, you idiot. I could have really hurt myself. You better clean up your mess before you leave the bathroom next time”. Why God, why, would you give me a brother who has no common sense in his brain? He does not say anything, just turns and walks back toward his room. Once I am dressed and ready, I walk downstairs to help my mom with some last minute things before our company arrives. The smell of seafood stings my nostrils as I approach the kitchen. Since it is Christmas Eve and I am Italian, my family is preparing to eat the seven fish meal, which we do each year. To me, this is the worst day of the year, minus the presents of course, because I do not like anything that comes from the sea. I do not eat much on this day and am usually a waitress for the rest of the family. I walk into the kitchen and hear the sound of fried fish cooking. It smells of olive oil and the ocean. My mom hands me a knife without saying anything, and gives me a bag of half frozen shrimp to start cleaning. I do not know how this ends up being my job each year, but tradition is tradition. Later that day, everyone arrives and is ready to eat. All thirty-five of us gather round the long string of tables to begin the meal. The tables look beautiful set with sparkling Christmas china. The dishware is white with green holly leaves and red berries and there is gold trim surrounding each plate and bowl. The tables are covered with red and green table clothes. The room is full of familiar voices echoing around me. I stand still for a moment and watch as my family takes their usual seats at the tables. They noisily await the six-hour meal and its multiple courses of food. The food courses come in waves like the tide. As my mother and I set down heaping platters of fish on the tables, I wonder why I do not like fish. I’m absolutely starving right now! I watch as each family member devours his or her plate of food before the next course comes out. I sit at a table with all of my cousins. We talk about how everyone’s year is going and how some of the younger cousins are transitioning to college life. As the last plate of fish is cleared from the table, my family returns to our family room to fall into food comas brought on by endless amounts of food. It is a family tradition to turn on a Christmas movie after dinner. This particular year we decide to go with the overall favorite, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. We like the one with Jim Carrey the best! I walk over to the kitchen to see how I can help before the tables are full of cakes, cookies, pastries and other sweet treats that my family loves. This is my favorite part of the meal because there is no fish involved! I eat a lot of dessert on Christmas Eve. Once the movie is over, the kitchen is completely cleaned and the smell of brewing coffee fills the air. My entire family gathers around the dining room table again to witness the many desserts on display. My father sits at the head of the table with a big jar in his hand. It looks very familiar to me because I have seen it every year on Christmas Eve since I was eleven. The jar no longer has a label on it and I can clearly see a dark, liquid moving around inside the jar. My father stands up and explains to the family that inside of this jar is the last of the brandy infused cherries that my grandfather made right before he died. It is tradition for my family to eat these cherries each year and my father keeps them in our refrigerator. He has had them since my grandfather’s death in 1999. My Grandpa Frank was a great man, who loved his family and enjoyed sitting at the head of the table and watching us share a holiday meal. This Christmas Eve, my family finished all the cherries that my grandfather made. Everyone ate a cherry except for my uncle. He refused every year for some reason. This year was no different. As I bite into the cherry, the taste of brandy hits my tongue. Vivid memories of him telling funny stories at the Christmas Eve table came to mind and the loving looks he would give us when he thought we were not looking. My grandfather’s cherry helped remind me of how far my family has come since his death. My grandpa would have loved seeing how my cousins and I have grown and what a loving relationship we have with one another. It is because of his love for us and the example he set, that we remain a close-knit family. Finishing the cherries is symbolic of the end of one chapter in my family’s story and the start of another. I wonder what will replace the cherries at next year’s Christmas Eve celebration? Whatever it is, I hope it has nothing to do with fish.


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