Holiday memories from our authors

Growing up, my family always did a joint Hanukkah/ Christmas celebration.  Christmukkah? Hanukmas? My friends were jealous because they figured I got double presents, but actually my parents spread the gifts out over the eight nights and Christmas day.  I did open something each evening, but often they were what other kids called “stocking stuffers”—pairs of socks, a new toothbrush… or (my favorite) a book.
We picked our tree on Christmas day, most often for free. Yes our trees were sickly and bent, the picked-over ones, but there was something Christmassy about bringing a lonely curved tree into our warm home to be dressed up.

Brenda Sturgis imageTradition IS the key to making memories, and creating magic. Our family tradition involves a can of whipped cream. It began as one of those silly
little things that a grandmother does for her grandchildren, to enlist a giggle. No matter what the holiday, or celebration, my grandchildren
stampede into my kitchen, scrounge through the refrigerator and line up. 7 hungry children with mouths agape, waiting to see who can hold the most
whipped cream in their mouth.  This tradition is one that will surely be ingrained inside their hearts, whenever they pass the dairy aisle in the
grocery store.
-Brenda Sturgis, author of Still a Family (pub. Fall 2016)

Felicia Chernesky--Felicia and Stephanie, Christmas 1971[2]
Felicia and Stephanie (1971)
My sisters and I anticipated Christmas presents under the tree, but Christmas Eve was sacred. We’d help Mom cook—stuffed artichokes, angel hair aglio et olio, countless fish dishes, zeppole, strufolli—and set the table with her best china. After Mass we’d gather at the corner for a rowdy firetruck visit from Santa, who handed out Colorforms sets or treat-filled stockings. Every year, Mom (who is small in stature) was carried up to sit on Santa’s lap while the neighbors cheered. Later we’d exchange gifts; Dad always had something special for each of us. Then Mom and Dad played piano and we’d sing carols. Christmas Day with grandparents and cousins was wonderful, too, but Christmas Eve night was just for us.-Felicia Sanzari Chernesky, author of From Apple Trees to Cider, Please


laura hurwitz photoOur family is an interfaith one. My upbringing was Protestant while my husband is Jewish. This means our six children have always celebrated both Hannukah and Christmas. The menorahs (somehow, we have amassed four) are stored in the basement right alongside the Christmas decorations and my grandmother’s manger scene. It was never a matter of pitting Santa Claus and Christmas carols against potato latkes and applesauce but joyful holiday coexistence. Our family Venn diagram of Christmas and Hannukah shows the inevitable theological differences, but we have always celebrated the intersection and its commonalities: Light against darkness. Loved ones gathered round. Faith in all kinds of miracles.

Laura Hurwitz, author of Disappear Home

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Holiday memories from our authors