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A Christmas Story

Every Christmas Eve, we would all pile into my grandmother’s small row home in Darby. The aunts and uncles would toss gifts around the living room as the cousins claimed their usual spots along the stairs. I have no idea what we ate or who got what. But I remember the feeling – that warm joy in my heart that I was with my favorite people in the world.

Today, we still gather together for Christmas Eve. Over the years, we’ve lost precious loved ones and their presence is deeply felt on this occasion. There is still joy though, and now it’s more about the food (hoagie dip? scallops wrapped in bacon?) and the fashion (this means you Michelle) than the gifts. I look forward to this night all year.

My husband and I laugh (and sometimes argue) over the difference in our holiday experiences growing up. We ALWAYS had Christmas morning at our house and my entire extended family lived between 10 and 40 minutes away. His family moved around a bit and hit the road every Christmas to visit family in Pittsburgh. He tells great stories of family traditions and Christmas mornings filled with cousins at his grandparent’s house. This year, we will have the best of both worlds with both families. And hopefully next year, we will have our own tradition.

Here are some of my favorite “Christmas Stories” from over the years…

  •  My first Christmas memory at the Melrose Ave. house when Mr. Pompilli dressed up as Santa for the neighborhood kids. I remember knowing it was him; I was only 3 or 4 at the time. Clearly, my tendencies towards over-analysis started at a very young age.
  • That feeling when you wake up and you realize that Santa has been at your house that night. I still remember taking those first steps down to the living room where you catch a glimpse of Christmas morning. For me, it was all about that the Barbie Townhouse. It was everything.
  • This isn’t so much a favorite, as it is memorable – as in the scarred for life variety. One Christmas Eve my parents got into a terrible fight. My brother decided to stay in my room that night because we were upset. In the middle of the night, I went to find my mom and walked in on my parents. Let’s just say they were no longer fighting. I quickly returned to my room and told my brother not to worry – they were not getting divorced.
  • A few years ago, Ryan and I escaped to New York – on Christmas Day. We got up early, took the train, and had a real New York holiday complete with ice skating at Bryant Park and a trip to Serendipity.
  • Every Christmas with Ryan.
  • And last, but certainly not least, the year I got this…(and yes, my brother had a matching outfit)

xmas cow

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Gail Herlinger #

    Just for future reference – when Ryan & Erika were children, we NEVER travelled TO Pittsburgh at holidays – only FROM Pittsburgh (Monroeville, Penn Hills, Murrysville, or Harmony), or Cleveland Hts., OH, or Marietta, OH, or Cumberland, MD, or Downingtown, PA, or Strongsville, OH -going to Erie, PA Xmas Eve, then to Johnstown, PA the day after, reversing that every year! The Grandparents lived in Erie (MY parents) and Johnstown (Harry’s parents) through Ryan’s & Erika’s whole childhood. WE on the other hand did all the moving between PA, OH, & MD. Not confused, are you!?!?! 😳

    Sent from my iPad


    December 12, 2013

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