It’s a day off for me while writing this. Of course my idea of a day off is getting a load of laundry done, disassembling my vacuum cleaner and scraping the assorted crud out of it and off of it. (It’s like a roommate. If it’s always there, it might as well look less crappy…) Posting on the blog and answering the phone and emails is fun, fun, fun! And it doesn’t stop on a day off. However, with the downpour of tinsel and Holiday postings everywhere, one can’t help but feel the spirit of the season. Do I get all gooey about it? Sometimes. And I do reminisce, albeit in my own quirky way.
It’s mostly memories about times of the past and holiday traditions with my family. This Publix commercial really gets to me, mostly because it’s family and tradition with a twist. It’s called, “Last Train Home” and I believe the music is by Pat Methaney.
Of course with my flying career and trying to balance in my writing career, things get a little weird around the Holidays. There’s no going home now because I’m already home. I guess it’s safe to say that I have graduated into having “A home of my own.” My family is where I live. Many people have passed through; some leaving positive thoughts, memories and energy and some not. But then, I’ve always maintained that it isn’t for me to take something learnable away from every situation. Most of the time, it’s simply not about me.
Things are also slightly different during the Holidays down in Florida than I was used to growing up:
A Veritable Winter Wonderland here in South Florida…
And this isn’t it either:
My memories are a bit more Suburban. My father always went out in the cold and snow and put some Christmas lights out on the evergreen bushes in front of the house a couple of weeks before Christmas. He toned down the bitching about it because I was a kid and well, Mom always had a fresh drink for him when he came back inside. Mom had that part down at least. Later on, I simply put up the lights. Dad would set up the inside extension cords and I’d brave the cold and afix the lights to the bushes.
We used to have a fresh tree until my brother was coming home from Vietnam after Christmas, so we got an artificial one on sale after Christmas, put it up for him and put Christmas on hold until he got back. After that, we used the artificial one. I was the only one who knew how the damned thing went together so I did it.
Yeah, well ours didn’t look like this. I found them here: Orlando Xmas Lights
When I was ten, I discovered the book The Joyous Season by Patrick Dennis. It is to date, still my favorite book. It is written from the point of view of a ten year-old boy named Kerry who lives in Manhattan with his parents, his little sister Missy, their Dachshund Maxl, and their nurse, Lulu, who is black. One of the chapters is about Christmas. This will give you an idea of what kind of book this is as this is the beginning of the Christmas chapter:
The divorce thing got started Christmas day. Daddy always said that Christmas is a joyous season when suicides and holdups and shoplifting and like that reach a new high and that the best place to spend the whole thing is in a Moslem country. Mom says he’s right about that, if nothing else. After last Christmas, I guess I kind of agree.
And of course, it goes from bad to worse including the gift of a used chemistry set blowing up one of the bedrooms and Missy chopping off all of her hair, dying it the color of iodine and gluing her eyes shut putting on false eyelashes with her brand new Antoine-ette Junior Miss Beauty Salon Kit.
It is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. And I’ve never understood why they never made a film of it. It would have given A Christmas Story a run for its money. And I still read the chapter every year. It’s my own little traditional attempt at being a Scrooge.
My Father was Danish and quite proud of it. I just found this particular recording on You Tube and cannot believe I found it. My Dad had this record and played it ever year. It was a 78 rpm and although performer Yorgi Yorgesson was Swedish I believe, it was close enough for my Father. Please remember this was decades ago and life was simpler then:
My father had his own traditions in the kitchen which was very much a Danish thing. For one thing, he liked to cook and he made the best bread and rolls in the world. He was a CPA and very precise, so this sort of thing was easy for him. His Christmas tradition was to make Danish Brandy Cookies. They were absolutely delicious. However, it was rather unsettling because you knew the cookies were done baking when the oven door blew open.
Ka-Blaaaaam! “Dad, the cookies are done!”
Happened every year at least once. That brandy in the cookies just blew that door wide open when it heated up. Personally, I thought it was hilarious! So it is a given that Dad was a bit unusual. Here is how he looked in his later years:
And here is my Dad in 1954:
No, My Father isn’t a Bedouin, it’s for a costume party. And this is nothing! Later on, he got very creative including dressing up as FDR and blowing everyone away simply seated in a wheelchair, wearing a suit. He grayed up his hair, got some pince-nez eyeglasses and a cigarette holder, threw on a business man’s hat and he was in business. Easiest costume he ever did and probably one of the best. Dad, simply said, “It’s not so much the costume, it’s the idea and the delivery.” I’ve won a lot of costume contests with that approach.
Dad was, shall we say, rather creative despite the buttoned-down CPA mind. I’m assuming you can clearly see where some of my leanings come from. My Father was an amazing man and the memories of all of those shadows of the past come back in bits and pieces during this time of year.
They are little glimpses of what made me, well, me. And it is not unlike taking a big bite of a wonderful food that you haven’t had in decades and completely forgot about. It has become a part of you.
Because of that, I just might decide to make Danish brandy cookies this season. I haven’t had them since my Father last made them for me in the late 70’s and yes, the door blew open.
If I decide to make them, hopefully, my oven door will blow open. And if my Father has anything to say about it, it probably will.
So from that grand tradition of blowing open the oven door, I would like to wish all of you a wonderful and very Happy Holiday and very hopeful New Year.