It’s Christmas Eve and all through the house … there’s a lot going on. The way I remember things, there never was a Christmas Eve I can remember where nothing was stirring and if there was a mouse, well, the cats were chasing him, too.
Growing up in Troy I remembered it always snowed on Christmas Eve. I know this is not true but I’d like to think it was.
I remember we always opened presents on Christmas Eve. I seem to remember my Dad hardly ever got much for Christmas, except for books and maybe a tie or socks or something. We’d ask him what he wanted and he would always say he didn’t need anything.
My greedy little adolescent mind couldn’t understand this. Man, how can you not want lots of stuff for Christmas?
We opened presents on Christmas Eve because on Christmas we would drive to Cincinnati to visit our relatives. I like my cousins but this was always pretty much agony. Think about it: you’re 7 years old, you just opened your Christmas presents, then you had to get ready to go to Midnight Mass. Then the next morning you’d wake up and right away pile in the car to drive to Cincinnati. Those presents would sit there all day while you’re miles away, unable to play with them. What torture!
Plus, Interstate 75 was a new thing back then. There were still traffic lights on I-75 at Needmore Road. It took a lot longer to get there and back. Plus, we were all stuffed into some kind of 1960 Ford station wagon with prehistoric shock absorbers and you could feel the bump-bump-bump of the road the entire way. Of course, I always ate too many cookies and snuck a bunch of candy from my cousins, not to mention drinking a bunch of pop, and that doesn’t necessarily go well on a long drive on a bumpy interstate.
For a 7 year old, it was a real ordeal.
About that Midnight Mass thing. If you were a student at St. Patrick’s, they would hand you a little candle with a cardboard circle attached to keep the red-hot wax from scalding you. Then they’d turn down the lights in the church and all the students would walk in together. It was a quite a sight.
Well, except for the fact that I was always so nervous my hands would sweat and the candle would start to melt. Then the wax would start to trickle down through the little cardboard guard and I’d have to try to keep it from giving me third degree burns. To top it off, Chris or Mike or one of my friends would start goofing around and flipping wax around or act like they were going to light me on fire. It’s a wonder we didn’t burn the church down.
The only other Christmas tradition I remember fondly was my mother would always make about 12 million cookies and a giant batch of garbage. “Garbage,” for the uninformed, is what people today uncreatively call “Chex Mix.” The Lindeman version is loaded with all kinds of extra butter and Worcestershire sauce and lots of other good stuff. There is nothing like it in the world.
This year we met with my side of the family on Sunday, my wife’s side of the family today and on Tuesday my grandchildren will be here from Denver (we even let them bring their parents). It’s going to be a busy few days. I really don’t care if it snows as long as everyone shows up and is safe. I do hope my grandchildren will have some of their own memories to take home with them.
Oh, and by the way, they asked me what I wanted for Christmas and you know what? I had to say I really didn’t need anything. I guess we all become our parents eventually. I’ll probably get a couple books and some socks, which will be fine with me. My wife already has cooked up a big batch of garbage and the kids all will be here, so what could be better?
David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.