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  • Terry-Ann Zander

'Twas the week before Christmas...

‘Twas the week before Christmas… and I'm missing my U.S. Marine. He is currently stationed overseas, making it too difficult to come home for a visit. It’s our first Christmas without our eldest son since he was born, 19 years ago. I’ve had moments of tears, and moments with smiles remembering Christmases past. I just hung up all our stockings, including his Santa stocking with his name in cursive glitter across the top. Yes, admittedly, I am a little late this year. The tree is up, it’s lit and it has finally been decorated.

My oldest son was born in July. In the town where we lived, there was a small Catholic church I could walk to each Sunday. They needed a baby Jesus for the Christmas pageant that year, so I willingly surrendered my infant son, to sit in the lap of a young girl playing Mary. I was proud, sitting in the front row of the metal folding chairs, lovingly arranged in the community center for the 4pm family mass. I beamed with pride at my little baby Jesus.

His first Christmas, I had at least 27 little onesie outfits and Santa pajama sets. We propped him up in his boppy with Santa hats, and even a pacifier with a set of bad teeth and fat lips. We did photo shoots in each of those outfits, and sent out our photo holiday cards to everyone we ever met.

When he was old enough to write, he would draft a note for Santa with the requisite Chips Ahoy! cookies (I’ve never been much of a baker) a glass of milk, and a carrot for the reindeer. One year he even drew a map so Santa could get from the fireplace in the family room, to the living room where the tree stood.

Years later, Elf on the Shelf arrived. He named our elf Max, and wrote his name in the Elf on the Shelf book that came with him. Max brought back memories of my childhood Christmas trees adorned with a set of small plush elf ornaments, perched in our tree. They bore a striking resemblance to Max. They must have been related; then again, I think all elves are related.

Max, and his extended elf family taught me, and tens of thousands of parents, to lie to our kids at the most joyous of times…Christmas. Parents, being the creative lot that we are, eventually employed the ever-watchful elf to perpetrate scare tactics in order to keep our kids in line, lest Santa be told, by said elf, to not bring presents, but coal instead. No child wanted their elf to report that they were misbehaving, or to have Santa skip by their house that Christmas.

When I was a kid, my parents would sit us down weeks in advance of Christmas with the Sears Wish Book or the JC Penney catalog to develop our itemized list of toys, games and other items we wanted for Christmas. Sadly, kids today don’t have a “wish book” since the advent of that pesky thing they call the interwebs.

We retired Max many years ago, when the Marine’s younger “twin” brother (my sons share the same birth date, albeit six years apart) “evolved his belief” in the existence of Santa. Regardless of how many times we watched the Polar Express, or my favorite Christmas Movie - A Christmas Story (“You’ll shoot your eye out!”) eventually, that evolution happens to every kid.

Well, this year Christmas will be different.

One less person at the Feast of the Seven Fishes, or Festa dei sette pesci. Also known as The Eve, or La Vigilia, cognate to The Vigil, is an Italian-American celebration of Christmas Eve, with dishes of fish and other seafood, on Christmas eve.

One less person to help light the luminaries, or, in the case of my sons, “’accidentally’ lighting paper bags on fire” on the road in front of houses for our neighborhood displays.

One less person to cram into a church pew at the Christmas morning mass. Maybe, we won’t have to stand this year.


On the plus side, there will be a couple of extra cinnamon rolls to enjoy on Christmas morning.

This year I am out of ideas and out of inspiration. We don’t go anywhere so we don’t need clothes, or outerwear. I think I am actually going to repackage last year’s Christmas clothes, still in their original packaging in the bottom of my younger son’s drawers. I’ll bet he won’t even notice. What does that tell you? I’ll tell you: we have too much.

This year we will focus on the simple; spending time with one another. Maybe I will bake Christmas spritz cookies from scratch after I dust off the old Super Shooter.

The traditional photo cards are finally in the mail to family and friends, near and far, with the message:

HOLIDAY CHEER - Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas & peace, love, joy and good health in the New Year!

I wish these things for all of the SKoC family, too!

I know not everyone can be with their loved ones this year, and I know some have left us, and remain only in our hearts. I look forward to 2021 with optimism and joy and laughter in my heart.

Feliz Navidad, Joyeux Noël, Mele Kalikimaka, Buon Natale, Nollaig Shona, Fröhliche Weihnachten, メリークリスマス

P.S. I think I’ll get my younger son a haircut for Christmas... he REALLY needs one!

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