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I felt the best people to celebrate today, my final Advent Letter of the season, would be four of the most special angels who I use to spend Christmas with every year as a child. These angels are my Noni, Pops, Grandma and Grandpa. They are now up in heaven shining down on me and I miss them so very much.
Every Christmas would start off with a festive party at my house on Christmas Eve. My Noni, Pops, uncles, aunts, cousins and some close friends would come over for an evening of good food and games. The mood was very festive and my sisters and I were oozing with anticipation for the night ahead! At the end of the party, we would curl up on the couch with my Pops and he would read "Twas the Night Before Christmas". I can still remember his smell, his rough hands as he turned the pages and the wheezing noises he would make as he read the story. It was years after he passed away before any of us could pick up that book. In fact, Jimmy Buffett was the first person to read it in our house after my Pops passed away. The story is at the end of his holiday CD and I remember my sisters and I frozen in our tracks as Mr. Buffett recited the story.
Christmas morning was a whirlwind at my house as we flew down the stairs to see what Santa brought (Santa does not wrap in our house) and then we opened gifts from mom and dad, then stockings and then breakfast. Later in the day we would head over to Noni and Pop's for a big family dinner and more gifts :) What I remember most about this occasion was the food :) Noni always made Shrimpy things for an appetizer (a shrimpy, cheesey spread baked on an english muffin)....yum! Then the cranberry jello mold and my favorite tray of pickles would appear at dinner and then for dessert there were pineapple cream puffs and this delicious mini cheese cakes! This year in honor of Noni, I will be making the shrimpy things, jello mold and the cheese cakes ;) After dinner it was game time (Trivia Pursuit, Pictionary and later Balderdash) and the competition was cut throat. I remember watching the game as a young child and being thrilled when I was finally invited to participate!
The next day we would pack up our belongings and make the long drive to see my father's parents. It was a five hour drive and with three girls in the backseat...it was a LONG trip :) There were car games, snacks, dad's explores (he was really lost trying to find short cuts), pit stops and then finally we would arrive at Grandma and Grandpa's. The house was more of a museum than a home and as small children, we were often afraid to breathe. My grandfather had all sorts of collections of different items from history (it is now in my dad's study) and my grandmother had so many nick nacks...many of them valuable. My grandmother did an amazing job of decorating for Christmas. She had a very extensive angel collection and she loved to tell you about where each and everyone came from. I loved to listen to this tutorial every year and if I let her, she would talk for hours and hours about this prized collection. I now am honored to have two of the angels from the collection (and one santa) and they mean the world to me! My grandfather was very proud of his tree. It was always an artificial and if my grandmother would let him, I think he would keep it up until Easter. I remember one year, he wanted a smaller tree and so he cut the metal base down so his 6 foot tree became a 3 1/2 foot tree.....too funny!
For the next few days we had more celebrations with aunts, uncles and cousins and ate lots of great food. My grandmother always had a collection of soda (every kind you can imagine) and this was one occasion where we were allowed to indulge in this forbidden drink......it was amazing! ;) It was always a fun couple of days and unfortunately one of the few times we saw my dad's parents each year.
Christmas is filled with wonderful memories of the past and my four special angels were a huge part of those memories. I miss them so much but know that they are always with me. This year, my sisters and I are going to toast them all by drinking madras' on Christmas Eve (my Noni's favorite drink). It is the perfect way to pay tribute to them and let them know that we are thinking about them. Merry Christmas Noni, Pops, Grandma and Grandpa!
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