My Favorite Christmas….

Movie–WHITE CHRISTMAS. I even have a copy of the Mrs. Santa dress Rosemary Clooney wears in the final number of the movie. Oh, how I’d love, just once to experience a post-card snowy Christmas like that one in Vermont. And oh, how I’d love to have that fabulous strapless black velvet evening gown Rosemary wears when she does her night club song, “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me.” Of course, you’d need the body she had at the time…

Song–CHRISTMAS (BABY PLEASE COME HOME) Nobody does it better than the amazing Darlene Love. Every year I try to stay up long enough to hear her sing it on the Letterman Show. This year, alas, with the writer’s strike, I’ll have to make do with the Youtube video of the ’06 performance. Which, in itself is pretty great, what with the full orchestra and back-up singers and that great Wall of Sound. Coming in a close second is that achingly sad HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS Judy Garland sings in MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS. If you know the movie, you know Judy’s family is about to be uprooted from her beloved family home in St. Louis because her father has taken a job in New York. Been there, done that.

Food–Hmm. I love it all. But my neighbor Debbie Johnson usually delivers a batch of her homemade fudge which is too scrumptious for words, and Mr. Mary Kay’s annual roast ducklings which he serves for Christmas dinner are out of this world.

Gift–I don’t ever remember my father buying Christmas gifts. That was my mom’s job. But one year, for reasons I’ve never known, Daddy went out and bought antique gold lockets for my two sisters and I. He was so proud of himself. I still have mine, and treasure it.

Christmas Ornament/Decoration–The first year we were married my mother-in-law made me a green velvet stocking in the shape of an old-fashioned high-button shoe. She filled it with sewing notions because she hoped I would become as accomplished a seamstress as she. I never had her talent, but I still sew a little, and that stocking hangs every year on our mantel–this year for the 31st year. My favorite decoration is a sort of wreath my mom gave me. She had two gay friends who were antique dealer/decorators, and they made it out of an antique ship’s wheel, to which they attached all kinds of vintage kitchen gadgets. It always hangs in the kitchen.

Childhood memory–Going to my grandparent’s house and being allowed to choose a gift from her bottom dresser drawer–which was where she stashed all the goodies she’d been given for gifts by my aunt’s beauty parlour clients. Gram was the receptionist at the shop–it was called The Allura–and those ladies plied her with gifts because they knew she was the one who booked their standing appointments. After leaving Gram’s house, we’d go to Midnight Mass at Blessed Trinity, our family church in St. Pete. I still remember coming out of church to the trumpet strains of Hark, The Herald Angels Sing.

Adult Memory–It’s a tie between the first Christmas we spent in our house in Atlanta, and the most recent, when we spent our first Christmas back in Atlanta in our new old home. That first Christmas Katie was only ten months old, and my parents and my mother-in-law came up to spend the holiday with us. We had a bitterly cold ice storm, but Dot insisted we had to take Katie to Midnight Mass so she could show her off. We came home and went to bed, and discovered the next morning that the pipes in our 75-year-old house had all frozen and burst. The kitchen floor was covered in water. Mr. Mary Kay spent half the day under the house trying to fix the pipes with a borrowed blow-torch, and we ended up washing the dinner dishes in the bathtub. Last year was a wonderful but bittersweet homecoming. Christmas Eve we went to the children’s Mass at St. Thomas More, and I got teary-eyed at the sight of those precious little pre-schooler’s solemnly processing up the aisle in their droopy white angel robes, cardboard wings and crookedy tinsel halos. The next day we spent time with old friends, and had a full dinner table with our family and neighbors, but it was the first year I realized that both my parents were gone, and I was truly an adult.