W101 – Happy Christmas Eve!
Day Ten: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!
Today’s Prompt: Tell us something about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory. Feel free to focus on any aspect of the meal, from the food you ate to the people who were there to the event it marked.
Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice.
Gosh I don’t feel that this is so easy now that I’m typing.
Well I hate to pull a cliché out of the hat but I’d have to say Christmas Eve. My early childhood Christmas Eves were special for a number of reasons beyond the actual meal itself. In all honesty, the meal isn’t at the top of this list but not because it wasn’t good. Without acknowledging it then, I do believe I fancied myself a little bit of a hostess (without all the responsibility of course). I rather enjoyed getting all dressed up and putting on some shiny patent leather shoes while my mom rushed around at the last-minute frazzled and hollering out “turn the oven down to 350 when the timer goes off” or something along those lines. She’d get just about everything in order and then rush off to the shower just barely making it out dressed and ready in time for our guests. My dad it seemed approached the situation a bit more cool, calm, and collected though he was most often in charge of our discipline, where people should park, and greeting early (or on time) guests. Then too though I remember not every year was the same and we all took turns being the last to get ready. No matter, us kids were happy to answer the door and mingle. 😉 And that was a highlight for me, the greeting part of things. But it wasn’t the physical act of greeting I was so excited about, no, the arrival of our guests was my time to ‘shine’ on the piano (even if I was amateur, mediocre you may say). I had a special Christmas-themed piano book I got during my lessons (with our babysitter’s mother as you may remember from a previous post) that I was more than willing to play. Sure I’d say hello and get up to give hugs but play Christmas songs I must! Up on the Rooftop, Silent Night, Jingle Bells, We Wish You A Merry Christmas, and plenty more. When I got a bit older and started playing the flute in middle school I’d play Christmas songs on my flute from the hallway (something about not playing the flute in front of people was less intimidating than playing the piano in the dining room). This will forever be a favorite memory of mine. I really felt like a member of the hosting party/family. I put on a show, it was great. Even if I was nervous, don’t let my shy demeanor fool you, I loved it. It was a performance under my own terms and conditions, and my parents never even had to ask me. 🙂
Of course the whole event was special. We didn’t see family all the time as some folks do so it was fun not only to see people but to have everyone together in one house with gifts and a feast! Looking back I can remember how I felt watching everyone mingle. It’s easier now to put it to words that I really felt empathic watching the joy everyone expressed at seeing each other. I loved guiding people to the living room, or telling them so and so was already there, showing them where to put their coats, and seeing the smiles multiply when people first hugged each other. It was so fun to run and tell my siblings or my parents, or be notified by them, that Uncle or Aunt or Grandpa/Grandma had arrived. Most everyone liked to check out the table, see how things had been set up, and look for their clay name tag created by my mom, with a little help in placement by us kids. That excitement was as awesome as my own birthday party because everyone was involved; everyone was excited. And you know, you don’t always see older people excited when you’re a kid. Even as my parents were active and happy people they were even more so at parties. You’ve attended and/or held a party with your family or of your own, right? That feeling, it was that feeling. Breaking out the decorations, the fancy table-cloth, the special silverware & glasses, getting everything just right. Then the rush of people, new smells, more food, appetizers, more voices and laughter, the house lit up and spirits rising with the tide. The kids’ table!
Being a nerd from the very beginning played into all of this, at least I think so. I liked seeing people in their own. I still like seeing people in their element, and just like a dog on their own territory, being in my own element made mingling with family that much better. After all, I could talk to people without all the attention on me, not that I didn’t like attention. At the end of the night when people yawned more and conversations met their natural conclusion, and people started to wean themselves out, it was kind of sad. I liked seeing all this diversity, all the different faces, who got what from or for who, and who got the most involved in what conversation or argument for that matter. Even as I knew Christmas was to follow – and trust me I was excited plenty for that – this was a party! Do you know what though? I’ve not even talked about my cousins my age and how much fun we all had. Nor have I mentioned how my cousin and I used to disappear to my loft and play and play with all my ponies, Polly Pockets, Littlest Pet Shop toys, Breyer Horses, and more. Oh how wonderful it was when we noticed our parents pouring more coffee and talking more, that meant more time to play! And again, I didn’t get to see her all the time so we made very efficient use of our available play time, especially when we got new toys! So much thrill in one night, what’s not to love? Roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, Yorkshire pudding, green bean casserole, various dishes brought by guests (yes variety and surprise!), cookies, pie and cake! Sparkling grape juice!
At the end of it all, it only felt like a beginning because then came preparing for Santa, sitting up and talking with my sister about what Santa would bring, when we were going to get up and how we would do it. Wake up, sit on the stairs, run down, peek between the doors just enough to see something but not enough to get in trouble, then go back to the top of the stairs, wake our brothers, hypothesize some more, then finally wake mom and dad…
What’d you think? Do you have a sense of my ‘distinct’ voice? What meal did you love as a child? Your feedback is welcome. 🙂
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