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Holiday Memories

 

They are the warmest of moments and they impress themselves on our memories.  We carry that warmth with us throughout life, fortifying ourselves for whatever lies ahead.  They are funny memories, sometimes, but they are always the happiest.  Enjoy these different stories.  Celebrate that "Junior" was not at your holiday dinner.  Happy holidays to everyone.

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Memories of a Family Christmas
by Gloria Huerta

Long after our loved ones are one, the memories they took the time to make with us are left in our hearts.
I was raised by my grandmother, and I called her "Nana". Christmas always meant tamales, with different fillings to enjoy as the main course, and then the sweet pineapple ones for dessert/desert (I always get those confused!).

My grandmother would let me help her mix the masa, and the secret was "if the small lump of masa floats in the water, it's ready to spread on the husks." We would make an assembly line, one would spread, the other would fill, one would place the olives inside and tie the ends, the other would fill the pot. Dinner was just as exciting as opening our gifts. Only dinner was special, because we all participated, even the men.

Now I'm the mother, and the "Nanas" are long gone. It's my turn to make the memories with my two daughters, and continue the tamale-making tradition. Only this time, we get to be creative with our fillings, and sometimes we "cheat" as my Nana would say, when we fold one end up, instead of tying both ends up (Nana would say only lazy cooks do that).

 

Santa's Favorite Cookies
by Valorie Paul

When my sister and I were tiny, we lived in a log cabin built by my father in Ohio. He built us a small, one-room log "playhouse" next door, where we could be found most often, playing tea party and arranging our Breyer horses to "show" them. On Christmas Dad used to dress up in an old, slightly-battered Santa suit, complete with whiskers and toy bag, and let us glimpse him as he put presents under the pine tree outside. Shrieking with excitement, we could hardly wait to put on our coats and boots before running out to see what he'd left us. These are the cookies we always left for "Santa," although we never put two-and-two together when we were little that "Santa's" and "Dad's" favorites were one and the same.

(Valorie shared the recipe with us. Click for mincemeat cookies)

 

A Pickled Thanksgiving
by Marilyn Graubert

My mother made gefilte fish, cabbage soup, and stuffed cabbage like you couldn't believe. But she never used what she called "your kind of spices". So one Thanksgiving Holiday dinner, my family and I (me bringing my salad the consisted of everything imaginable, I like to call it my compost salad) arrived at her house, and it smelled not of familiar warmth, but, like a pickle factory. To impress me my mother found pickle spice jar and thought that was a jar of all "my kind of spices." She used the entire bottle and thought I'd be so pleased that she came into my century. We all did have a good laugh, but it certainly was a strange tasting bird.

 

Christmas with "Junior"
by Diana Viola

My brother was a prize science student. As such, he was rewarded with a privilege extended only to the top students. At Christmas, he could bring home one of the animals to love and care for over the long holiday vacation. The year before this he had brought home an adorable hamster that the whole family loved. He informed us that we would love Junior even more.

He arrived home with not one, but two cages. One held the owl which was supposed to go to a family that had decided to travel over the holidays. "The teacher asked if I could bring home Hoot Gibson, too," he told my mother. "I told him you'd love it, Mom."

The other cage, far to large to hold a hamster, belonged to Junior, but my brother said that Junior didn't belong in a cage. He opened the door and out came Junior, all six feet of him, for Junior was a black snake, and my brother refused to cage him.

Using powers of deductive logic, I reasoned that Junior would be more comfortable on the floor than on top of bureaus. I spent the vacation walking on top of pieces of furniture.

Christmas day was delightful. My mother was up early to start preparing the feast of feasts. She told my brother that Junior could not be under her feet, so he spent the day in his cage. Unfortunately, our celebration was held under the scrutiny of the owl whose cage was so large that the only place for it was in the center of the table. The head spun when you least expected, and the eyes never blinked.

My brother was a considerate person who was alarmed at my fear of snakes. To encourage me to be friendly with Junior, he put all six feet of him in the bottom of my bed where Junior fell into a sleep that was only disturbed by my feet, and the wild screams that accompanied my discovery of his presence in bed with me. It was a memorable holiday.

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