I ran into a high school friend last week while walking out to my car at Walmart, and we ended up standing out in the parking lot hovering over our cars for what seemed like hours reliving stories of football games we played during our senior year. Unlike me, he remembered the exact score of some games, and I could only remember snippets of a few games. And while he knew the score of nearly all the games, and could also remember specific plays that we ran, I, on the other hand, could remember just a few highlights of the whole season. We soon parted ways and wished each other well, and promised to meet sooner rather than later.
As I drove home, I reminisced about other events during high school, but sadly, I couldn’t remember everything; only the highlights, not the distressing minor details that others clung to, like what kind of cars people drove, or the latest style clothing that made them hip. Although we didn’t talk of the material things we had, I nonetheless engulfed myself in the joy of seeing an old friend, and reliving memories of certain events in my mind that made us laugh, and the company of friends we kept.
I soon snapped out of my day dreaming when, after arriving home, I was met with the commanding voice of my daughter emanating from the attic instructing me to bring boxes of decorations downstairs for Christmas. I dutifully went upstairs to assist her, and after seeing my face she wondered out loud why I was so happy? I then encapsulated my brief encounter with an old high school friend and the good times we had together. She then responded rhetorically, isn’t that what Christmas is all about, friends and family?
I nodded in agreement and emphasized the point that, after living fifty plus years, it’s not the gifts that we received (although I can recall some gifts from Christmas’s past) it was the time spent together with close relatives, sharing stories and laughter, and sharing an incredible meal that made those memories so much more unforgettable.
I specifically cherish the memories of going to my aunt and uncle’s where we would gather every Christmas Eve in the cozy confines of their basement. Twenty plus people consisting of cousins and second cousins would watch my aunt make the customary meal of fish for my uncle because he was Italian, and that was his family tradition. To accommodate others, my uncle would venture into the subzero temperatures to fry steaks on the grill. Believe me when I say subzero, because I can remember two Christmas Eve’s when the wind chill was twenty below and he was out there cooking so we could have an awesome meal.
Meanwhile, in the basement my aunt would start off the night with fried oysters, and as a snack she would bring a large bowl of jumbo shrimp with our favorite sauce to compliment it. After the oysters were done, the walleye and perch were the next victims of the fry pan. Fresh caught that summer from Lake Erie. All you could eat. And you couldn’t eat all of it. You had to save room for the T bone steak coming off the grill.
If you wanted a libation with good conversation and lots of laughs, my cousin would step in and provide us with both all night long. What great memories!
Sure, we would exchange a few gifts, but the best memories are reserved for the meal, the laughs, the sharing of love for one another, and the music coming from the radio; which in those days was played commercial free all day and night for two nights in a row. We didn’t get forced fed the music the week before Thanksgiving like now days. No, they gradually broke us in, until Christmas Eve, and then played without interruption. ….(Sorry about the rant for the Christmas music on the radio…….had to get that off my chest.)
Just like music, our memories of certain events give more satisfaction to the soul than a gift that can wear out, or perhaps get tucked away into a seldom used corner of the house. But the joy of making memories through a good meal, great friends and relatives, the sharing of love and laughter and most especially fostering the love of one another and watch it bloom throughout your home makes any Christmas worth remembering.
Merry Christmas from all of us at BioThane!