What was the best gift you have ever received? We want to know! But first, we're keeping holiday week going with another interview! And find out what makes the holidays unique to every person by reading all of our interviews all week long.
What holiday do you celebrate?
How did you celebrate the holiday as you were growing up? Was it always a big deal?
"The family all got together. My family's not very big. I had 3 uncles (and their wives) and a brother, my parents and my grandmother. It wasn't until I was teenager that they (the uncles) started having kids. So, we'd get together until my grandmother passed away and then I grew up, got older and moved on so it started getting a little different."
How did it get different?
"Everybody wouldn't gather either at my mothers or my grandmothers anymore. Maybe my uncles would go to one of my other uncles house. Or two of my uncles would go to their in-laws instead. It just kind of separated out a little bit. We'd still see each other to some degree. But it wasn't the same as when I was a kid."
Now that you've moved away (to Florida), how is Christmas different then when you lived back home?
"Well first and foremost, and it isn't like you haven't heard it before, I can wear shorts on Christmas! Let me just say that."
Was it harder to get in the spirit of the holiday with the environment being different?
"Not for me. Christmas is still coming. Still gotta shop and decorate. And if I have to decorate outside, I'd rather do it down here where it's warmer. So if I were gonna get into it more, I wouldn't hate it as much since I'd be more comfortable. Wouldn't seem like such a chore. But we've eased up on Christmas a bit, but that's by choice. We're just getting a little older and it's not the big deal it used to be."
How has it changed for you?
"Again, I think it's just that we've gotten older. Plus, my husband works in retail and he has Christmas crammed down his throat and he's so busy that I think he's lost a little bit of the spirit. He's wiped out from it all. I'm just older and it just isn't a big deal to me anymore. But not for any particular reason that I can pinpoint besides that."
"It's a little rough for him. He gets through it ok and at least he has his grandmother down here. So he has someone, family wise, that he didn't used to get to see when he lived up north, 'cause she lived down here. So there's a little trade off that I think helps, but he definitely misses his mother and seeing her at Christmas. Absolutely."
For you, do you think losing your own mother, plays a part in why the holiday isn't as big of a deal anymore?
"Could be. I have less family left. I guess it could play a part. I've never really thought of it that way. I've never made the assumption that because we moved, or my matriarchs are dead and he's (his husband) away from his family, that Christmas sucks. I've never really thought of it that way. It could be a combination of all of it. I may learn something during this interview with you. (Laughter)."
Were there special traditions you had with your mom that you miss?
"A couple, and they're stupid little things. Like every Christmas Eve, and this is when I got a little bit older and we didn't go to my grandmothers anymore, people would go to my mother and step father's townhouse 'cause it was bigger. My step father would go out and pick up Chinese food every Christmas Eve and that's what we'd have for dinner. They were already cooking but they were cooking for Christmas Day. Then, of course, when we went to bed, they had to marathon wrap. It was an all day all night thing, Christmas Eve. We've done that the past three or four Christmas Eves down here, gotten Chinese food. Another thing my mom did, she'd make the Pillsbury cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. They're stupid little things, we weren't big on traditional things, but those were a couple little things we always did. I've been doing that too. As for Christmas dinner, the family always had a lasagna and a ham. But Christmas dinner is Christmas dinner. It can change up, it doesn't really matter."
So you just started picking up those little traditions recently?
"Yeah. There was always so much going on (before) that I didn't have time to think about those little things.
As time goes by, and we lose those close to us, do those little things become more significant?
"Yeah, so you don't lose all of it because everything does change. There's no two ways about it. Some things can kind of stay the same but change at the same time. Like the Christmas party (referring to an annual traditional Christmas party). You have a party every year, but maybe the people that come are different. We were a small crowd in the beginning. Larger now. Some don't come to all, some have been there since the beginning. Things just change. I got tired of being upset about things changing."
So you were, at one point, upset about things changing?
"Yeah. No one thing in particular. But as you start getting a little older and growing up, that's when things really start to change. But people come, people go. People live, people die. You do this for years, now you don't, you do something different. And I just don't let any of that bother me cause it just takes too much energy. Sometimes I think I seem cold, and wonder if I am being heartless or selfish, cause I don't waste energy mulling over something. Can I go back? No? Then I guess it is what it is. I don't like it, and I may have a puss on my face sometimes about (it), but I'm not gonna pine over it. I can't. Even with people leaving. I can miss them, but I can't pine."
On a lighter note, what was the best gift you ever received?
"That's a tough one....I'm teetering between two things. I got really super excited when I got a bike (as an adult) when I lived in Asbury Park so I could ride with my friends from work, which I did for a couple of summers. I didn't expect to get one and I was surprised and shocked and thrilled to get it. The other one was when I was about 12. My mom got me these really cool sneaker skates to go to Palace (a local roller skating rink) with. They were blue and yellow striped bobo's with wheels. (Laughter). And they had blue wheels and yellow stoppers and blue and yellow stripes. They are the two coolest things I can come up with off the top of my head."
What was the best gift you ever gave?
"I guess the karaoke machine I gave a friend. I don't know why I thought it would be so great. I thought he'd love it and I was correct. I figured this way, instead of blasting out the neighbors with George Strait, he could rattle the neighborhood with his own voice. (Laughing)."