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Not Every Christmas Must be Memorable to be Cherished

December 27, 2015 by Diane

When I logon to my computer a reminder pops up:

It’s Christmas Day.

As if I can’t remember that yesterday was the day before Christmas. As if I can’t recall last night’s dinner with friends…

We bring a cheap bottle of Chardonnay to the Italian family-style restaurant where we meet every Christmas Eve. He’s wearing shoes that he dusts off once a year, she’s wrapped in a muffler knit by hand. I shrug off my rain coat with the broken zipper, unable to shrug off the wisps of my day at work, the customers with their pained, desperate faces: “Do you think my son’s girlfriend’s mother will want this? She’s sixty-nine.” The man sets a bottle of lavender massage oil on the counter.

“Do you even know this woman?” I wanted to say. “Why are you buying her a present? Go home and spend time with your son instead.”

These thoughts swirl in my head as my two friends reminisce about their adventures as a duo in times gone by before I came into their lives. I can barely hear what they say but I’m too tired to participate. I hear instead the family in the booth behind me chattering. I hear snippets of Dean Martin singing the lounge-lizard version of The Christmas Song, or is it Frank Sinatra? My eyes rove the walls adorned with old photographs: Sophia Loren sitting next to Jayne Mansfield, her eyes cutting down to Jayne’s pendulous breasts spilling over that low neckline. Another photo: a dapper man passed out on the table, one arm flung overhead; his companion, a young woman with short curls, stroking his slick hair. Did he have too much cheap wine to drink? Did the chicken marsala do him in? I wonder these things as my companions reminisce about a hostel in Marin under a full moon, a lump of man snoring in the bottom bunk.

We wait close to an hour for the eighty-dollar dinner to arrive and it’s disappointing: the spinach and tomato and red onion salad limp in a puddle of balsamic vinaigrette, the chicken breasts shrunken, not Jayne Mansfield proportions at all.  A disappointment; but still, this yearly tradition with our makeshift-family is something we all look forward to, tucking it away like a favorite present to be admired when winter has bleached the color from our faces, and nights are long and lonely.

Another reminder pops up on my computer:

Tomorrow is the day after Christmas.

Those geniuses at Apple are on it.


  1. Carolyn says:

    It was still a lovely time with cherished ” framily”. Sorry if the memory lane went off track.. so much of my present seems to be rooted in my past.. but didn’t mean to exclude!!

    No the food was not up to par and it did take forever.. but the company was the best and it pretty much is always the highlight of my Christmas.

    With Love ,


    • Diane says:

      As an introvert, I’m pretty good at excluding myself as a way to conserve energy. And I was beat, coming from a hectic day at work. Still, like you said, the company was the best! Wouldn’t have missed it (or those shrunken chicken breasts) for the world! Love to you too Ca.

  2. Jenny G says:

    Happy holidays. I am glad you have your makeshift family. I ended up spending a lot of time this Christmas breaking off my relationship with my foster mom and it wasn’t pretty. I guess that might end up being what I remember most about this year.

    • Diane says:

      Ack, what a way to spend a holiday. I feel for you! Hopefully you can find some bright memories to tack on that won’t make 2015 seem so dark.

      Christmas can be hard on those who don’t have family nearby. Or don’t have family, period. It can be hard on those who do have families, if those family members are a nightmare. I consider myself blessed to have a wonderful inner family (the one I was born into) nearby that I spend Christmas day with, and an amazing outer family, the chosen ones, that I meet up with on Christmas Eve.

      As adults on our own, we tend to create new families from people we know. It sounds like that’s where you’re headed, if you haven’t already done so. I wish you all the best!

  3. Bun Karyudo says:

    Sorry, Diane! I hadn’t realized it had been so long since I’d popped over. It gets a bit hectic around this time. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year. All the best to you in 2016.

    • Diane says:

      Thanks Bun! Yes, this time of year is hectic. I still need to catch up on the latest post on your site. I’ve got it bookmarked.

      All the best to you in 2016 as well!

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