Tis’ the season

paper snowflake

Originally uploaded by nonsonoitaliana

Despite all the effort she put into cooking, making Christmas ornaments with us when we were little, baking cookies for neighbors, and other countless things I’m sure I can’t remember, my mother has always insisted that she hates HATES the winter holiday season.

So it’s my dad I’m mostly thinking about these days, as I prepare for my first Christmas in Terno, and my second Christmas ever apart from my parents (the first was some years ago while I was in Alaska).

It’s my father who has always loved any kind of holiday, all the opportunities to do elaborate things like walking to get a Christmas tree when we lived in Brooklyn and didn’t have a car yet (or maybe it was broken?), then dragging it back with the “help” of his four or five year old daughter (my sister).

Or, covering the tree with “snow” in the most labor-intensive way possible: Soap paste made from laundry detergent (gorgeous and fun for kids to do).

Or, waiting until we were asleep on Christmas Eve, and planting candy canes all over the tree, along with fruit, nuts and presents from Santa.

Or, not grumbling at all when we woke him up at the crack of dawn to open presents, and maintaining a semblance of order to the mayhem by insisting that we open one present at a time, properly registering it on our list so we could write thank-you-notes later.

Not to mention, Christmas music while decorating the tree, seasonal drinks and foods like nuts (which I am only just now beginning to appreciate as an adult), going into Manhattan to see the window displays, taking us all to see the Nutcracker ballet… I could go on and on. . .

Saturday we got out our small (very small) collection of holiday decorations and laid them out. We decorated a bedraggled ficus because Ilario doesn’t want a dead tree and I don’t want a fake one. Last night we cut paper snowflakes to put on the windows (Paolo helped, too), and today I made a banner to cross the room of stars.

Miss you, Dad.


4 Responses to “Tis’ the season”

  1. Fred Travis Says:

    Dearest Rachel,

    Thanks for the wonderful Chrismas memories. I almost cried. And the one about watching the basketball game alone not only was hilarious, but reminded me of Mom last year, who “hated” ball games until she started sketching at the Seton Hall basketball games I dragged her to, which has led to her having a painting accepted for inclusion the National Art Museum of Sport in Indianapolis.



  2. Alix H. Travis Says:

    I loved these memories. I too, appreciate daddy’s love of holidays because I don’t have much. I particularly remember you at Hansel and Gretle, the opera. You nearly collapsed when they pushed the witch into the oven and the people sitting around us loved it.

    love, mother

  3. Alix H. Travis Says:

    I also love to remember your 2nd Christmas when you helped decorate the tree by putting all your ornaments on the same little low down branch.

    Once, in Washington, when we were heading south for the holiday and I objected to spending money on a tree, we picked up the dead branch of a decidious tree, put it in a vase and decorated it. I would do the same today but daddy will not have it. I am not letting him buy a tree at all. We will put our presents under Brennan’s tree.


  4. Rachel Says:

    I have so many good memories of this time of year. I am trying to make sure it becomes special to me here as well.

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