Evolving Traditions: Christmas
As time continues on, things change throughout your life one way or another. As I wrote last month things involving the Caselli family are continuously evolving into something new; changing as time does. But for the traditions around Christmas, this year seemed a lot more familiar.
You see when I was growing up our family would partake in the same wonderful events year after year. After a long December of Advent calenders, decorations and school Christmas plays we were finally excited to go to church. Our family would always attend 5:30pm Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church Christmas Eve. I remember my Dad rushing us out the door at the last minute in our best Holiday attire and a Christmas sweater to match. Our Grandparents would always be in the pew alone waiting as they arrive extremely early to save us a seat. (The same aisle every year; the one that’s a pain in the ass to get in and out of because of this giant column on it’s right side.) We all would be joined by my Uncle and Aunt and their kids as well. Church always seemed longer on Christmas Eve, as the anticipation of what lie ahead continuously grew in my mind as Mass progressed.
After Church we would all head back to the house to grab an assortment of gifts and make our way to my Grandparents house. Would would be met by my other Uncle and his wife and kids too, creating around fifteen people to enjoy the night. My Grandma would prepare a wonderful Holiday feast that most of the time consisted of a Baked Ham, Raviolis, Bread, Salad and Wine. Even to this day, I eat at the designated kids table with all my cousins and, of coarse, my brother and sister. This year Priscilla got to join us. Over the years the table has gotten smaller, but we always seem to make it work. (Though Priscilla did bang her knee pretty hard against the table leg this year.) As kids, we would eat fast. Really fast. The time in between when us kids finished dinner and the family gift opening event seemed like an eternity.
So when the Grown-ups all had enough wine, we made our way into my Grandparents all white formal sitting room accompanied with a giant white Christmas tree. Usually a giant pile of Christmas presents was stacked high under the tree, and tree stockings hung from the fireplace with the names of my Dad and his brothers reading, “John”, “Jim” And “Mike”. Starting with the youngest, we would open our gifts one at a time. After about two rounds of that, us kids couldn’t be held back. It was a free for all.
Then, after piling our gifts into the car, we would make our way home to another sleepless night as the next morning brought even more gifts from Mom and Dad and of course Santa. The morning present opening was fun and full of gifts as it is still is to this day. We would finish up and wait a couple of hours till the Hills came over. My Mom’s side of the Family was always entertaining. They included my two big uncles Louie and Tim, my cousins Christine and Richard, my other uncle John with his blind wife Shelly, my Mom’s parents Grandma and Grandpa Hill, and later included my great Aunt May. The day was filled with another feast, visits from friends and family and other traditions like these nasty German Cookies.(sorry mom)
This year seemed almost like it always did. Priscilla is added to the group and Grandpa is in a wheelchair, but other than that the tradition is just as I remember it. Memories hold strong with the Caselli’s but I know one day even this tradition will evolve. Next year Priscilla and I will be celebrating with her family in South Carolina with her Sister’s babies and their new traditions. It makes me sad to think things wont continue on as they once did, yet the thought of a new tradition makes me excited about what tomorrow brings.