A “nice, Jewish girl’s” love of Christmas

As promised to you almost one year ago, I will always keep it real. It is with that spirit I confess I had an entirely different blog written, edited and set to go yesterday at 7:30 am. I wrote it with my weekly deadline in mind, not my heart. It was good-ish, but as my dear, sweet and always honest editor pointed out to me … “It was not my favorite.” He was right, something was missing … me! So here I sit amongst the presents I still have left to wrap starting all over!

This blog will post just before Christmas and I feel compelled to capture the essence and magic of the holiday season. The irony is that I am a nice jewish girl. A girl raised by jewish parents who divorced and then dated and/or married Christmas celebrating people. I remember falling madly in love with my first tiny little tree with blinking multi-colored lights. I was 10 years old and and so began my obsession with twinkle lights and Christmas. About that time I started babysitting for an ever-growing Irish Catholic family on Christmas Eve. Long after we read “T'was the Night before Christmas" and when all the children were tucked into bed, Santa’s ringing sleigh bells could be heard from down the street. Watching those children peer out their windows is what ultimately sealed the Christmas deal for me!

Back in those days “It’s a Wonderful Life” was always on television. I think I watched it a record 12 times one year, hence why it is still my number one holiday tradition! So the tradition continued last night while baking cookies with my daughter and friend. Some 40 years later I still cried. Some might think it dark and a bit depressing. I agree that parts are, but I would counter so is life. Each year when George realizes all those men on the transport died because he wasn’t there to save Harry, I weep. As all the townspeople arrive at George’s home at his hour of need, I cry. When George’s brother arrives to toast, “To my big brother George, the richest man in town!” I sob. The power and depth of the many messages in that movie are what have molded me Christmas after Christmas. I not only gather strength and purpose from them, but they are crucial to my being.

                         Clarence Odbody, AS2 talking to George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life" 

                         Clarence Odbody, AS2 talking to George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life" 

So you can only imagine my reaction when the very first night I met my husband and we watched this movie together and both quoted lines in unison. I just knew it must be a sign he was the guy for me! This guy and I are married 23 years now. We don’t live in the Granville House, but it’s a wonderful life. Our holiday traditions incorporate our changing football life, and Santa always magically finds us—even when we were staying at a hotel for a Bowl game. In Michigan we traditionally traipsed through the woods with dear friends in search of that “perfect” Christmas tree. In Florida that “perfect” tree was found at Publix while food shopping. Our gingerbread decorating contest—complete with judging and bragging rights—happens annually. And no matter our address, each and every Christmas as we hang our ornaments on our tree there is always a treasured memory to go along with every single one.

           Look closely you will find two of my favorite ornaments: Jake and Madi's first pair of sneakers!

           Look closely you will find two of my favorite ornaments: Jake and Madi's first pair of sneakers!

Moral: “No man is a failure who has friends!” Clarence Odbody excerpt from “It’s a Wonderful Life”

merry everything,

A little bit about friends: One of our biggest concerns as football family parents was that our children might not experience the joy and comfort of lifelong friendships. A boy who started out as our son’s hockey teammate 15 years ago is now arguably not just a best friend to both our son and daughter, but we consider him our “other son” as well. With all the moves our children have endured, he is their one constant. His parents have embraced his week-long visits to us no matter where we live. He is everything you hope your child to find in a friend; supportive, accountable, thoughtful, empathetic and fun to be around. Oh and he can craft the most beautiful bushes you’ll ever see from candy spearmint leaves too!

                                                                             Collin and Jake... my boys!

                                                                             Collin and Jake... my boys!

                                                                    Collin and Madi 

                                                                    Collin and Madi