Remembering the “good ol’ days” of Christmas

Moments both Happy and Sad Marked the Celebration

by Lori Downey SS. Peter & Paul, Braddock

Christmas has always been such a special Holy Day for me. The birth of our Lord is the reason we celebrate this day and having family and friends to share this with me (us) is a blessing.

Trying to think of my favorite Christmas memory is way too difficult because there are so many memories past and present that have affected me and made me so grateful. I do, however, often say that I miss the good ol’ days! Those days were the ones where I still had my dear mom and dad here with me and my wonderful and feisty baba, as well as many other special people.

The traditions that I learned from my mom and baba are now part of my life with Don, and sharing them with my brothers sometimes makes me feel like the new matriarch of our family. The smell of mushroom soup, bobalki, ham and kolbassi turns our house into the one I remember as a child.

It was also a tradition to have company, lots of company, at our house after the midnight liturgy. That tradition started when my Uncle John drove Baba home from church, and later it grew into most aunts/ uncles/cousins coming to visit in the wee hours after midnight liturgy.

I have always remembered one Christmas in particular that made me feel very sad. My dad worked at the Homestead Steel Mill and he worked 3 different shifts. I was probably about 7 years old when my dad had to go to work at midnight on Christmas Eve. He kissed me goodnight and told me to go to bed before Santa came, and then he left to walk the mile long walk to where he caught the bus to take him to the mill. I remember feeling so sad that he had to walk so far and to go to such a tough job, especially on Christmas Eve.

Christmas 2000 was one of sadness and joy and gratefulness. A few months prior to Christmas my mom’s cancer was diagnosed.

My mom left the hospital and she moved in with Don and me.
Our home became her home. It was a sad and tough time, but we loved having her with us. And, I truly believe that her living with us for her last Thanksgiving, Christmas and Pascha was the best gift for her and for us.

Don and I may have started a new tradition last year. After years of having a real/fresh tree that we picked at a local lot or fire dept, we thought it would be more fun to head to a tree farm. The drive was well worth it and the climb up and down the steep hills  looking for “just the right” Fraser fir paid off! The tree looked perfect in our living room.

Hopefully we’ll be back on those hills again this year looking for yet another perfect tree. Now if only I have my beautiful snow on the ground while climbing those hills, I’ll really be a happy camper (tree picker)! Don and I wish everyone a happy and blessed Christmas!