I set out to write a Christmas card like the super-organized perfect arm of Americans who have theirs in my mailbox before the twenty-fifth every year.
I am not that talented.
Then I aimed for a new year’s card, or at least a new year’s blog. So many funny things happened over Christmas that in rightful anticipation of it, my father bought all the participants “A Pittman Family Christmas” tee shirts. It was like the Griswolds… with a little more sophistication.
There were no moose-eared-mugs or dickey-wearing-uncles or plastic-Santas-with -reindeer at our house. I mean, before we arrived, my father stole out in the night to cut off pieces of garland growing around mausoleums in order to decorate his meticulously wrapped gifts with the freshest, most beautiful, and most aromatic accouterments. “That one’s from the cemetery on Ashland, and that one’s from the neighbor’s back yard.”
But this is nothing new. When my sister married, my mom wandered the neighborhoods of St. Joseph with her scissors and garden gloves cutting blooms off hydrangea bushes. “They’ll never notice one missing flower…”
No one was missing from Christmas this year, except Grandpa. But at every meal that I was asked to pray over (will I ever stop being the token Christian in my family?) I reminded God to please tell Grandpa hello for us. And truthfully, I bet Grandpa got a real kick out of all the laughing we did over Christmas; he would have loved it. All his girls were home.
Family is a relative term in our household. Of the six to ten stockings that are filled whilst we “children” sleep, not all of them go to “Pittmans.” There’s Andee who spends every holiday with us, sleeping with Amy in her bed, just like they did when we were kids and neighbors. However, this year we added Andee’s boyfriend to the mix, so with Andee and I both bringing boys home, and only two double beds in the house, both of my sisters had to give up their bedrooms this year. “I have to sleep on the couch,” Emily complained, grabbing some blankets from the closet. “Well I have to sleep with the ghost!” Amy shot back.
After my youngest sister, Emily, arrived, sometime in the late 80s, I lost my bedroom and moved into my father’s study. Unfortunately, the “study ghost” already lived there, so I went from sharing a bedroom with an infant to sharing a bedroom with an ethereal being. Fortunately, I only had a twin bed. But, he never bothered me, though several others had sightings of the study ghost including my sister Amy (now a surgeon) and another “sister,” Mary, from up the street.
But where was I?... Mausoleum theft… grandpa… stockings, ah yes. So Andee gets her own stocking and there’s the BFOTY stocking (affectionately designated by my loving family members to go to the person whom they call my “Boyfriend of the Year” – whatever guy I can con into dating me in November so that he’ll drive me home for Christmas in December.) Nice, right? I know. And usually the pets get their stockings too, although Santa forgot to fill them this year, so when the dogs got annoying on Christmas morning, sticking their wet noses into all our half-opened paraphernalia, Mother traipsed upstairs and grabbed the unwrapped dog treats and handed them out accordingly. That quieted things down for a while.
Gloria was in town this year too. That made my Grandma happy. My Aunt lives in Hawaii, but not just in Hawaii, on a tiny privately owned island called Lanai. So getting over to visit her is not an inexpensive task. And grandma hasn’t made that trip yet. So Gloria and I, both bundled to the max in scarves and hoodies and gloves and coats having left behind 70 and 80 degree climates to journey to Missouri, were both home for Christmas this year.
And as such, all ten of us had tee-shirts… turquoise-colored cotton with white block lettering and a snowflake to remember 2012, which proved to end with, indeed, a classic Pittman Family Christmas.