Ghosts of Christmas Past

I was actually planning to write this entry a week ago, but life intruded and then the events in Newtown and, honestly as both a mom of a five year old and a teacher, I was more than a little shell shocked. The funny thing about that was that I felt no strangeness when I got ready to go to work on Monday, but I lingered a little over my daughter's bed that morning. Felt a little odd sending her off even as I got ready to walk back into a classroom . . .

It's Christmas time. Christmas always reminds me of my grandparents. My one grandmother loved Christmas and my grandfather indulged her every whim with this holiday. He also loved miniature trains and would have an elaborate set-up in the corner of his living room--a tiny train, a lovely little village and a Victorian Santa Claus with his unraveling list looking over all the little town. Gram would fill the little front bedroom with gifts and my brother, my three cousins and I all had our "spots" for years. After Grampa died, Gram still really got into the holiday spirit, though she needed a little more help. Mom and I would go over every year to help out. I'd wrap presents and grate parmesan and romano cheese. Stir the gravy and learn how to make the meatballs. Didn't everyone have lasagna and eggplant parmesan for Christmas? Until I was in sixth grade or so I thought everyone did and it's just not Christmas or Easter without those dishes.

The Frencl Christmas was always a little different--a little bigger, a little louder and a week or so before Christmas. My dad's family was bigger and they all scattered to the in-laws for actual Christmas Day--of course, one of those in-laws was right across the street from them, but that's another story that requires the flow-chart of my family tree and would just confuse everyone. I think I'm the fifth down out of about thirteen cousins on that side of the family. By the time the cousins started having kids, I stopped counting. We'd have pierogi and pork roast at the Frencl side. Six of us would range up the staircase waiting for our gifts as kids. As we got older we started a grab bag and there was much stealing and laughing as people opened their gifts and traded. I acutally got the water glasses for our first house in one of the Frencl family grab bags. When we were kids we also always had a pinata. Don't ask me. I have no idea why a bunch of Bohemians had a pinata, but it was a tradition. I remember bouncing heads with my cousin Danny as we dove for the quarters amid the candy. Danny and I always did go for the cash first, candy second.

So, when my house starts to fill with the scent of simmering gravy and cheese I think of my gram and gramps. When I picked out a pinata for fun for my daughter's birthday this past year, my thoughts turned to Gramma and Grampa Frencl's house with Uncle Ron hanging the pinata in the center of the sitting room. All these memories, some of which only sneak out to haunt me at certain times of the year. Others are with me all the time. My grandparents have all been gone a while, my daughter never met them, but they're still right with me every Christmas season and throughout the year. I hope that I can pass that love of the season on to my little girl so that she smiles over her ghosts of Christmas past in years to come. I look at her and remember my childhood, smile over my ghosts of Christmas past even as I look into the eyes of my Christmas future.

Have a merry and safe holiday season. Best wishes in the new year for you and yours. Make some memories this year!


  1. Happy Christmas to you and your family
    Wishing you a happy new year ahead.

    Thanks for sharing about your nostalgia.
    Stay blessed !


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