My Grandparents backyard backed up to my Parents back yard, separated by a fence. It was over that fence I was passed, like a Christmas package, every Christmas Eve. That was the only eight hours out of the year I lived with my parents and siblings. I once had a room in my parents house that I occupied for eight hours, once a year. Every year around 9pm I'd be lifted over the fence, later I climbed it, to be stuffed in to bed awaiting Christmas morning. In the early years it was my sister Carol and I who looked in amazement at the huge tree under which seemed to reside hundreds of present. Then over the years came brother Tom, Sister Ann, Brothers Robert, Frank, Danny and Kenny. By the time the four younger brothers came along I was no long climbing the fence, but driving my car.
On Christmas day we would get into my Dad's car, which had no heater, bundle up for the ride to Grandma and Grandpa Cooke's house. My Dad would begin to sing Christmas Carols, Mom, my sister and I would join in. We had to be back at Nana and Pops by 4pm for dinner. The family would gather around the Christmas tree, presents distributed, then it was time for dinner. Great Grandpa and Grandma, my grandfather's sisters and their families sometime twenty people. We gathered around a table made for six laughter and talk abounding.
When my kids came along we were still living in New York. It seemed to me the hard times of getting enough money to live on was pasted on to me from my Dad. On Christmas Eve I would receive a small bonus. I then spent the better part of the evening running from store to store getting as many things on the "wish list" as possible. I would work late into the evening, then head home to put up the tree, and wrap presents with my former wife. The kids would be up early eye's as wide as ours use to get.
A couple of years after my Dad's death I found a note book he had used for a journal on the transport taking him to England in 1943. Christmas day he wrote to my Mother "I miss you and Cookie, I hope to come home and spend every Christmas with you both."
In 1974 we moved to Arizona in an attempt to save a troubled marriage. My children grew up in Arizona devoid of Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and Grandparent for many years. We had our own Christmas's in Lake Havasu, Kingman, Flagstaff, then Phoenix. They now have their own tradition of Christmas Eve at my Son, Christmas Day at my Daughters. I now watch my grandchildren's eyes become rounded on Christmas morning. The same look my brothers and sisters had, the same look my kids had. That look of intense amazement and wonderment.
Just to see that look made it all worth it. Didn't Dad?