Childhood Christmas memories center around images of automobiles. Packing suitcases and presents into the car for the 4 hour drive south. Listening to the NORAD man list Santa’s coordinates on the radar as he crossed North America while we drove from a Christmas Eve celebration towards our next destination. Laying in Grandpa & Grandma W’s bed trying to go to sleep. The on-off, off-on blinking red and green outside lights keeping me awake; terrified Santa would never arrive if I didn’t go to sleep. Picking raisins out of Grandma W’s Persimmon cookies. Awaking to Tulle fog, so thick on Christmas Day, that we couldn’t see the road from Grandma Mitter’s front porch. And later on, once my brother was old enough to drive, I remember sharing four hours of travel time while to Cheech and Chong told us about Santa Claus and his Old Lady.
My Arizona Christmas memories center on large, noisy groups friends, who became family. Making tamales and posole for Our Lady of Saint Guadalupe’s feast night. Joining the Casa Grande hay ride/Christmas carol bash as we moseyed from the Silver Bullet to The XXX to the Wonder Bar. Driving to the foot of Squaw Peak to view the luminaries. Playing volleyball and drinking beer at the Monastery on Christmas night after everyone was full of family.
North Carolina holidays are rarely stagnate. I’ve travelled from the Outer Banks, to Ferdinand Indiana, and the Florida Panhandle. The Sister’s of St. Benedict’s midnight mass in Ferdinand taught me about the tradition of the red apple hanging on the Christmas Tree. Feasting on fresh fried fish purveyed from Joe Patti Seafood is the Perdio Key tradition, while the Outer Banks bring to mind Elizabethan celebrations.
This year, I am repeating the past. Christmas spent here in town with friends. An early candle light service, French Onion Soup, accompanied by talk, talk, talk. In the morning there’ll be Bloody Mary’s and strong coffee. A group assembled breakfast – then the present exchange. Mid-day we’ll start concocting our evening feast – shared around the candle lit table. A day of friends, food, cooking and drinking. What more could be added to this already perfect tradition?