Sunday, December 25, 2011


"Hey, Brad! Let's go get our Christmas tree!" I yelled.
"Okay. But what car will we use? Dad has the SUV."
"Oh, my car will be just fine. We will travel California style," I determined.
"California style?" he questioned.
"You know? With the top down. That's the beauty of a convertible." I laughed.
"Ha Ha," Brad sarcastically chortled.

So began the beginning of new traditions at our home.

  "Unbelievable! They are actually climbing the tree!" Brad laughed.
"Oh. My. Gosh. The kitties are destroying the Christmas tree!" I exclaimed.
"I know. Right?" Roberto responded. "The ornaments are on the floor, except for the top portion of the tree, where there are still a few dangling from the branches."
"I know. It's hilarious!" Liz said. "And, well, they did leave one blue bulb at the bottom," she reasoned.
"Thankfully Cassandra and Skyler didn't get high enough to ruin the paper star I made," Roberto sighed with relief.

Indoor kitties equal an outdoor Christmas tree.

Stockings were hung with care. On the window sill. In front of the tree that seemed to be looking in, asking 'what happened?'

  "Alright, kids, we are going to send Dad a care package. Bond us through gifts. You might say," I told Roberto, Liz, and Brad.
"I am getting him boxed See's Peanut Brittle and a Williams-Sonoma gift card," Roberto claimed. "I am pretty sure he's in need of some carmel."
"Oh, I know," Liz started, "he would love a Chef Rudy apron. A red one!"
"He will like the movie Tropic Thunder," said Brad. "Dad likes movies like that." 
"Hey, I found an Atlanta Braves wall plague," I excitedly told them. "What do you think? It will be from all of us."
"Perfect!" all three chimed.
"And of course, we will make a homemade card. Signed. Sealed. And delivered," I announced.
"He is going to be so surprised. It's going to make his day," Liz said. 
Roberto, Brad, and I smiled at the thought.

"Mom, don't forget I am going with Chris to Texas. We're leaving in the morning, on December 24th. Christmas Eve day," Elizabeth said. 
"I remember," I told her. "Let's make pizza and open gifts on December 23. In the evening."
"That sounds like fun!" she exclaimed.
And it was. 
We celebrated. 
Great food, and awesome gifts!

  "Boys, since Dad won't be here to cook a gourmet meal for Christmas Eve, what would you like?"
"Something fun!" Roberto raised his voice.
"Like?" I asked.
"Chicken Alfredo?" he wondered.
"Sounds good. But remember I will prepare it from a jar. And a box. I will also make a Caesar Salad poured from a cellophane bag, and the garlic bread will just need a bit of heat," I admitted.
"I just hope it tastes as good as Dad's cooking," Brad joked.
All I could do was smile.

"Mom, you don't mind if I go hang out with a couple of my friends, do you? It being Christmas Eve?" Roberto asked. 
"Oh, don't worry. Have fun. Brad and I are planning to have a cookie cutting, baking, and decorating party," I told him.
"That sounds like fun," he smiled.

It was.

It dawned on me. Later. When I was cleaning up. This was the first year, in many, that we did not spend Christmas Eve day making a gift for each other. You see, we started the tradition years ago. To help teach the kids the value of giving. More so than getting. The day starts with drawing a name out of a hat, or bowl, or cup. Whatever. Then each person spends the day making something, anything, for the person they chose. The only rule is that you cannot go to the store and buy. You must find things around the house to use. It could be a handwritten letter. A decorated framed photo. A pencil drawing. Something that the receiver would love. Something specifically for them. After dinner, we take turns giving each other the gifts. 

A wonderful tradition that slipped away this year.

This morning. Christmas. Texting me first thing. Then I gave Rudy a phone call.

 Within the hour, Liz and I did the text dance.

 "What are these? Who are they for?" Roberto wondered. He woke up before Brad. Way before.
"For you two. Just an extra, unexpected, but necessary gift," I told him.
"Ah, Mom. I love you."
"Love you too."

Roberto, Brad, and I spent the afternoon with my sister, brother, and my mom. Eating and chatting.

"How are you, Roberto?" Grandma asked.
"Busy. With work. I work so much. At two jobs."
"Are you getting enough rest?" she wondered.
"Yes, and no. But I figure I am young. I have the energy. I like it. For now," he told her.
"Just be sure to rest when you can," she said.
"I will, Grandma."

"Would you like a massage, Grandma?"
"Okay," she hesitated.

Brad gently rubbed his fingertips along the back of her neck and shoulders.

"Ooooo. That feels good."

Happy Holidays. To all. And to all, a good-nite.....


  1. Thank you for sharing your holiday - it was a sweet read!

  2. Sounds like a good day. I love the idea of making the gifts for each other.

  3. You are such a special woman. I love how you are just making it work. Christmas could have been a very sad and lonely day even with all your babies, but you CHOSE to make it merry. I did, too!
    Pat yourself on the back, for me, please.

  4. So beautiful :o) I almost feel like I was right there watching you all, you described this so well! Happy to hear you had a lovely Christmas, and I loved all your photos too :o) As your friend said above, good on you for making the most of the festive season, despite having your hubby so far away...I'm sure your children would have benefited from your positive attitude too :o) Merry Christmas!

  5. thank you, everyone... we made the most of our situation... no point in dwelling in what we wish it was, but rather work with what it is...

  6. Merry Christmas Daphne.. it looks as though you & your family had a happy one.

  7. Wonderful post and story. I'm glad you are so involved with your family and I think we all make those Christmas tree cookies at Christmas. Have a wonderful and safe New Year

  8. Sounds like you had a great Christmas. Thanks for stopping by.


  9. Beautiful day, beautiful family... and a most beautiful lady!

  10. Yay for kitties that turn plans around. Haha I made a special box under the tree (like a cave) for our puppies so they'd have their own "place" to play. Luckily our tree as left alone. I remember the first year we had our cat, she LOVED to jump up right inside and see how far she could go. Loads of "dakota no!" were shouted that year. lol

    I'm glad you all had such a wonderful Chistmas! xx

  11. Times change. Traditions change. But I and you know it's for the children. No matter how hold they are. :)

  12. I loved the photo of the Xmas tree in a convertible. Only in California. I wish!
    I am glad to see you had a great day but seriously Daphne you don't cook at all do you?
    I seriously love your tradition of making your gifts. Awesom!

  13. Even though it was different, it sounds like it was a quiet, sweet day.

    I love that you put your tree outside! LOL!