Thursday, December 22, 2011

All I Want For Christmas (is You)

My husband often asks me what I want for Christmas. I, quite often, do not have an answer for him, because what I truly want he can't give me.
My father died when I was a baby, and I have no actual concrete memories of him. My mom remarried, and my stepfather raised me and as a result, he was my dad. He was the person who taught me how to drive, gave me advice on boys, gave me shopping lessons. It's all his fault that I'm a wine and art snob, total foodie and love certain movies. He and I could quote the entire movies of Monty Python & the Holy Grail, young Frankenstein and Casablanca back and forth.
He rocked.
When I was 23, he was diagnosed with a virulent form of colon cancer that had already spread. He was in his early 40's and much too young for any routine preventative screenings to be considered. By the time he was diagnosed it was already terminal. My sister was 4 when he was diagnosed and 6 when he died.
That was 15 years ago and I still find the perfect present for him. Or a movie might be on that we would enjoy (Amadeus was another favorite of ours). I find myself sometimes crying because of that.
He would totally get a kick out of his grandson. I think they'd be best buds, and he'd have someone else to share his Star Wars/Star Trek/Dr Who obsession with.
This is the 15th Christmas without him, and it doesnt get easier.
My aunt, who also is partially responsible for who I am today, loved Christmas time. She would take me to the Christmas show at Radio City; we'd go to see the tree at the Met; the Nutcracker at NYC Ballet. There would be ice skating at Rockerfeller Center, FAO Schwartz and living out every pampered princess' dream. She was diagnosed with metastatic cervical cancer in the beginning of December and she died on Dec 26th. She was buried on New Years Eve.
It's been over 20 years, and I miss her. She was a math genius with a Masters from Yeshiva and a PhD from NYU in math. I think she and Little Man could have bonded over numbers. Some oft fondest holiday memories are the times I spent in the city with her.
My grandmother was part of some of those escapades. She was 4'11, but 5'2" with her bun and high heels. She always wore red lipstick and black. She drove a Cadillac Sedan de Ville and was a bun person (all you saw was The bun & knuckles driving). Grama was a trip and there are a ton of her stories out there. I will save them for another time. She was not your typical grandmother to bake cookies or have tea with (think an older version of Betty Draper from Mad Men) but there was a connection there, and I miss her. I say the toughest but best job I ever had was being her primary care giver during the last year of her life.
She's one of those people who were impossible to shop for.
Except now that she's dead, I find the ultimate gift every year. I think shes messing with me from the great beyond.
So, what I really want for Christmas is more time with some folks who I cant be with anymore on this mortal coil. Its a reminder to enjoy every day and value those that you love, because those memories are what is sustaining when they (or you) are gone.

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