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A Very Garey Christmas

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A Very Garey Christmas

When I was a very young child, I was baffled, bewildered, mesmerized and amazed by the whole “holiday” experience. From the moment Santa waved in my direction at the end of the Macy’s parade to the knuckle-gnawing night spent blearily searching the skies for the hint of a UFO, I was one exceptionally well-behaved, cooperative, cheerfully confused, oft-dumbstruck little kid.

Despite being a very spiritually ambiguous and socially diverse household, the Gareys of yore certainly knew how to celebrate a multi-cultural, non-traditional festival: Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Joyeaux Noel, Feliz Navidad, Frihliche Weihnachten, Buon Natale drenched family conversations as thoroughly as the perspiration that soaked the velvet, lace and ribbon bedecked costumes my parents, brother, cats and I wore for our annual studio portraits. Golden menorahs and dreidels made of clay. Advent calendars, greeting cards from who-knew-who, blue candles and lantern-lit windows. Daddy atop a ladder, staple gun in one hand, gargantuan tangle of red, green and white lights slung over the other, very naughty, un-Christmasy words muttered under his breath as he transformed our home into a gingerbread house. Candy canes, gefilte fish, egg nog, potato latkes, roasted chestnuts, bagels, hot chocolate, strudel, cider, surreptitious sips of peppermint schnappes. Bing Crosby, Rudolph and Frosty, rustling wrapping paper, curls of ribbon, tall, lush evergreens covered in priceless porcelain baubles, bubbling lights and “silver sauerkraut” topped by the star Daddy had made from precious tin foil, cardboard and painted with nail polish during the frugal years of World War II. Warnings that the slightest infraction of family rules ensured a stocking filled with coal; veiled hints that proper behavior would bring me the Betsy-Wetsy doll I craved. It was a month-long season of sensory overload that oft-times stunned me speechless and scared the hell out of me. I loved it… I think.

Did the cats love it? Who knew? As I recall, they appeared to enjoy stalking the tinsel, attacking errant strands of ribbon or lights and couldn’t resist investigating crumples of paper or empty boxes. They tolerated it – temporarily – when I daily adorned their heads with stick-on bows. The holiday snacks seemed to entice them and, if memory serves, happily wrestled with their colorful new schmousies. Best of all, they listened solemnly, attentively, as I mulled over what marvels each day had brought or might bring, and never objected when all I could do was hug them in mute delight. But did it really matter that to them that it was called “Christmas?”

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Read more: Christmas, Family, Hanukkah, Holidays, Kitten Smitten, Life, Pets

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51 comments

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11:23AM PST on Nov 16, 2011

what a cute story, thank you.

6:33PM PDT on Apr 9, 2011

catherine -- since robyn was her editor, you might consider writing to robyn about the daily action.

janet was a beautiful spirit.

6:17PM PDT on Apr 9, 2011

i think about janet often too. and i worry about her daughter because i know she would if she were here. but i guess we all have to make our own way at some point. i really hope she's ok. i appealed to care2 to do a daily action with all of janet's stories, but it seems to have fallen on deaf ears. at least janet knows she hasn't been forgotten.

6:08PM PDT on Apr 9, 2011

i did hear from one of her friends -- the middle tennessee website guy -- janet's daughter lost the apartment where they were living, after janet died. he then lost contact with the daughter.

6:06PM PDT on Apr 9, 2011

i miss janet so much. she used to email me me frequently - in fact i was sick around christmas time that year, so had not had a chance to reply back to her email -- sent one off, never received a reply back - but figured she was busy for the holidays. :::::sigh:::::

such a beautiful person she was.

4:35PM PDT on Mar 28, 2011

thank-you.

6:19PM PDT on Mar 13, 2011

thank you

1:44PM PST on Jan 18, 2011

thanks for posting this.

9:15AM PDT on Aug 2, 2010

I certainly intend to honor her memory this coming winter holiday season by sticking a bow on each of my cats' heads.

1:24AM PDT on Jul 29, 2010

thanks

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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