Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas ABC's

My brother Mark posted his Christmas ABC's this morning.  As soon as I realized what he was doing, I had to stop reading it.  I am enamored with ABC picture books (there are so many cool ones out there) so I wanted to try this myself without the influence of reading his.  I took the dogs on a long walk and let ideas bubble around in this brain which is on vacation.

Here's are my ABC's of Christmas.  Do any of them resonate with you?

A is for Alexander.  He is our first born and has always been  such a wonderful addition to Christmas celebrations.  As a little kid, he seriously COULD NOT go to sleep on that magic night.  As a 26 year old living in San Francisco, he now brings magic and creativity and the coolest gifts to our Christmas celebration.

B is for the beach.  It has been our holiday tradition for well over 20
years to head over to the coast on Christmas Eve Day. The four of us
take a walk along the beach at Doran and end up having dinner at one of our favorite places over there.  The idea has always been to get away from the commercial Christmas and enjoy the beauty found around us.

C is all about cigar stands.  What's a cigar stand you ask?  That refers to houses decorated with outdoor Christmas lights.  Our dad always called them cigar stands so his kids and his grandkids have carried that on.  Why cigar stands?  We don't know but we think the name came from one of two places.  Either, during the 1930's in Detroit where our dad grew up, cigar stands were ringed with lights OR our dad saw the lights as the tips of cigars.  Whatever.  It's in the family and it stays.

D is about the dark that surrounds Christmas.  It comes so close to the winter solstice and nights are long and cold.  Cigar stands help temper that darkness.

E could be about eggnog.  Eggnog is not my favorite thing but everyone else in my family likes it so I humor them and keep it in the fridge for them.  They mostly drink it like milk without the alcohol lift.

F is about friggin cold.  I am NOT a fan of coldness.  Have you noticed?  And I know damn well that those of you in the Midwest, Northeast, Northwest must laugh your head off at my idea of cold.  Snow seldom makes an appearance in Sonoma County but cold moist fog regularly throws a blanket over everything in sight and hooded jackets are the only way to stay warm.

G is about the ghosts of Christmas past.  All of those little kid Christmases , those young and single adult Christmases, those early married years with kids Christmases.  They are all part of memory banks now but their influence is strongly felt.

H could be a testament to the Holiday blues.  Christmas time is not always an easy time.  The expectations - whether self imposed or imposed by the culture - can be killers.  The world is supposed to be perfect at this time of year and when it proves not to be, one can be launched into the blues.  What to do?  Ride them out (or paint them).

I is for the international feeling at this time of the year.  It seems as if people all over the world have this one season in common.  I mean, there are vacation times and summer traditions everywhere but Christmastime seems to bring people together in celebration of family and community, no matter what the spiritual tradition might be.

J is for Joy to the World and all the other Christmas music.  The religious songs are ingrained in my consciousness from years and years of parochial school Christmas pageants but I do still find them touching.  It must be a cultural thing.

K is for Kermit the Frog.  Kermit is our tree topper and he always has been - since 1982.  That was the first Christmas that Michael and I celebrated together and, don't ask me how it happened, but Kermit climbed to the top of the tree and has had that honored place ever since.

L is all about lights.  As noted above, darkness is tough and the lights of the season can really warm the world up.

M ... If A was for Alex then M must be for Meggie.  Meg is now a gorgeous 24 year old and, once upon a time, she was the cutest little girl that  Santa would have encountered on his international adventure,  Meg LOVES Christmastime and she is all about the decorations, the wrapping, the music, everything.  Her enthusiasm is contagious.

N is for Noel Joseph.  Noel is my brother who was born on December 23rd about 4 years before I was born.  His birthday was always an integral part of our Christmas days and was never forgotten or glossed over.

O stands for Ontario, the city where some of my father's family lived when we were growing up.  Christmas late morning always included a drive out to see the uncles, aunts, cousins, and, until 1964, the grandmother who lived out there.

P is for presents but, if you've read this blog for very long, you know where I stand with those.  Check it out here:

Q is for quiet, as in the silence during Mass on Christmas morning.  Certainly carols were sung but, as with all things church growing up, silence was critical.  I still don't know why.

R has to be about relatives.  Lord knows there are lots of them and I love them all.  As a kid, we got to see our aunts, uncles, and cousins on both sides of the family.  Nowadays, my siblings and I gather as many of our offspring together for holiday connections.  The nieces and nephews crack me up and I also learn a lot from them.  Bring 'em on!

S must be Santa, must be Santa, must be Santa Santa Claus.  What else?

T  is about time for giving thanks for all the blessings in our lives.  My family has always been wonderfully appreciative of what we have and what we can share.  Thank you's come often and are laced with hugs and kisses from all.

U is about universal peace.  Wouldn't that be nice?

V is about V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N but not in the summertime.  In the wintertime.  Vacation in winter is about staying cozy and reading and watching movies and hibernating.

W is about winter walks.  Okay, so I just said that vacation is about staying in and staying cozy but it is also about bundling up, walking in the neighborhood, seeing the warmth in the neighborhood homes and and noticing the winter starkness  taking over the autumn palette.  Beautiful.

X is about the excitement in the air.  It is palatable everywhere, particularly in the last three or four days before Christmas.  You can feel the tension, as luscious as it might be.

Y is for year as in have a happy new one.  There is something cleansing about New Year's Eve and January 1st  feels as if all is new and there is a second chance for everyone.

Z is for zero as in, that's all the letters I have left to do.  It was fun to write this and I see it as a warm up for April's A to Z Challenge.  Can't wait for April!


  1. What a beautiful alphabet. It made me all warm and snuggly.

  2. What am awesome version of the ABCs! And your son and daughter are gorgeous, by the way

  3. The beautiful thing about ABC books, is that if you lined ten up alongside each other, all ten would be the same, only different. You can read a lot into a set of ABC's, and it's nice to recognize that the English language allows for vast unlimited ways to arrange those 26 letters. Such a simple premise. Your list, produced during your listless Christmas break, is thought-provoking. Thanks for bending your own rule about making lists. If you can't break your own rule, what's the sense in hanging out with all those middle schoolers, who wrote the book on rules, and what exactly you can do with them. File them under "N" for No Rules.

  4. I love Kermit! And the ghosts of Christmas past was a good one as well, since I think a huge part of the pleasure of the holiday is the multi-layered feel of it. It's never just one Christmas--it's all of them somehow.

    Nice job!