Home, Holiday, Family, and PetKids
This is a time of traditions for many families, and mine is no different. Growing up Catholic and sharing a birthday month with Jesus, I figured it was the best time of year! I always felt extra blessed in December.
My dad worked for Boeing and had two weeks off every year between Christmas and New Year’s. I thought everyone’s dad had those two weeks off. As I got older, I realized that wasn’t the case, but I carry forth this tradition with my team. I ask that only a skeleton crew check in and make sure that nothing gets left undone. Everyone else checks emails from home when time permits, but otherwise, I tell them to rest and enjoy the season as the new year is always a busy one!
But when I was little, my family and I had extra family time, and was it great! I grew up in a family of six humans (me, my sister, my two brothers, my mom and my dad) and at any given time two to four PetKids as well. We always had a cat and a dog, but over the years our crew included extra dogs and cats, birds—wild and tame, rabbits, and just about anything I (and yes, I was the main ring leader) thought needed a home! Lovingly my parents somehow managed to find room for just one more.
Christmas was always a special time, and although everything was decorated and we celebrated all month long, the main event started Christmas Eve. We counted down the clock till the big guy’s arrival with nervous anticipation of delight! After dinner and showers, we all dressed up as a family, and we kids tried to be on our best behavior for Mom and Dad. We braved the cold and sometimes snow as my father ensured we traveled safely to and from midnight mass. You would think that it would be hard for us kids to stay awake, but, no, not this evening. We were wide awake!
It was magical; it was wonderful. The church was packed. But seeing so many familiar and unfamiliar faces together and fully understanding the meaning for the season was a good thing. Friends and family shared love as we Catholics celebrated the birth of Jesus.
Having grown up in a neighborhood with so many different people and religions, my family and I came to love and celebrate all people and their faiths and traditions. The one thing that bonded us was that we were good people and respected each other and how each enriched our lives as neighbors and friends. I honor my many friends and readers of different faiths and traditions during this special time. May everyone find the peace they seek.
Back to Christmas Eve, we kids came home from midnight mass and went straight to bed. Mom encouraged us by letting us know that Santa would soon be there. Even our PetKids seemed to jump into bed and quickly fall asleep. Funny how sleep can find you when you know that once you awake it will be Christmas Day.
And Christmas Day soon arrived! It was finally here!
Waking up before daybreak on Christmas was easy. Heavenly smells came from the kitchen, and the Christmas music seemed to be singing to me and begging me to do a singalong. And I did! Even if I didn’t know the words, I hummed as loud as I could and requested a dance from my PetKids and with the little PetKids, like my cat(s). I held them and whisked them around like only the best dance partner could do while listening to the holiday sounds.
All these years later, I realize that neither Mom nor Dad got much sleep. Mom was busy cooking and wrapping, and Dad was busy putting together toys, a bike, a dollhouse, a hot wheel track–something always needed putting together.
Mom and Dad always were so delighted as all of us kids and PetKids opened presents, happy that Christmas Day was finally here. Everything halted as we unwrapped presents and shared. Eventually we all got dressed. We kids had to do a few chores before playing more with our toys, and there was always a PetKid who needed fresh water, a walk, and feed.
An early dinner came soon, and knowing the feast that waited, even as kids we didn’t want to eat much to spoil our appetites.
After days of food preparations by Mom—oh, how she labored for hours and days making a delicious dinner for her family, we enjoyed turkey with all the trimmings, yams, green beans, and so much more, including every dessert a child could dream of. The typical Christmas cookies always tasted so great straight out of the oven. What a feast! Mom never once complained or acted like she had something better to do.
With kids and PetKids everywhere, presents she and my father had spent hours wrapping disappeared in minutes. Food that took days to prepare was eaten in seconds, and Christmas paper was scattered everywhere.
Wow. Mom and Dad, along with Santa, thought of everything. We kids rushed straight to our presents and were never disappointed. No matter what Santa brought, we all got everything we wanted. I must say, though, my siblings and I always cared about those children who had not, so none of us ever went overboard on our Christmas list. Don’t get me wrong—I must tell you I really scored having my birthday close to Christmas. My family always made sure we celebrated it separately, but I felt spoiled because December was one big celebratory month. And yes, my parents even remembered the PetKids, and they enjoyed getting their dog and cat presents.
I grew up in Seattle, and even the weather knew that it had to whip up a special order for Christmas. Usually it was cold, windy, and wet, which made the fire feel that much warmer. When we had snow, before cleaning up for dinner, an awesome snowball fight and winter soccer with the dog PetKids delighted us.
After dinner came dessert and one of our favorite things: getting into our p.j.’s for the annual Smith family movie night. We all tried to grab our spot on the floor or sofa with a blanket or sleeping bag. Of course, we grabbed a PetKid to snuggle. Then let the movie watching begin. Even the PetKids knew this was the night we’d all been waiting for all year.
Dad stoked the fire to keep it going. The fire helped us stay warm and cozy and acted as our nightlight while we hunkered down for our movie marathon. Even after eating my mom's amazing dinner, on Christmas, we all, even the PetKids, had snacks.
While we watched the television screen, we somehow managed to eat more cookies, drink a little more eggnog, and even grab more turkey. The movies we watched were the classics like Rudolph, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story (the one with Ralphie and the BB gun—if you’ve never seen it, grab a copy for the whole family; you’ll be laughing and glad you did), White Christmas …. The list could go on and on, especially as we got older and our busier schedules didn’t allow us to watch during the year. The movie marathon was a perfect way to catch up on movies from drama to comedy. It was such fun. If we’d had digital streaming services back then, we would have called it binge watching.
Eventually we fell asleep one by one, and our movie marathon turned into a makeshift slumber party. The next morning, we woke up to the sound of my dad making breakfast singlehandedly—a delicious post-Christmas feast. Who knew Dad was such a great cook? Maybe his day-after-Christmas breakfast was a present to my mom to thank her for the fantastic Christmas meal she prepared. Any good partner knows giving a hardworking mom a break is always a good idea.
Dad called us to the table when breakfast was ready, and we shared stories while passing food. We talked about some of the movies we’d just watched (giving our thumbs up or thumbs down). We laughed, ate, and went back to movie watching. Usually we needed to replay the tail end of the last movie we watched, because most of us had fallen asleep and missed the ending.
We kids would still be in our p.j.’s (Mom and Dad were dressed, though, just in case company stopped by). As we got older and knew company always stopped by, we decided it might be wise to be dressed too, but otherwise we didn’t interrupt our day-after plans!
I’d like to tell you all these fond memories are from my childhood, but it’s pretty much the same today. It’s just that I’m a big kid now, and there are more bodies, husbands, wives, PetKids galore, nieces, nephews, and now even a great niece to boot.
Mom always made sure the PetKids got a special piece of turkey, and I carry on the tradition with all five of my PetKids to this day. Mom is no longer with us, but I can still hear her say, “It’s Christmas; give the pets a small piece of turkey. They’ve been good too.” So Coopah, Blizzard, Jaxxs, Tinka, and Scooter got their small turkey morsel with their Christmas dinner. Who am I kidding? They had a little bite of turkey with their breakfast and lunch too.
I give thanks for so many blessings, and I’m so thankful for what the season brings.
If you’re traveling, I wish safe travels for you and your PetKids. Enjoy friends and family, and if you find yourself alone, volunteer at a shelter for pets or humans. This time of year, everyone can use a helping hand and appreciate a smiling face. And me? You’ll find me at home with my PetKids and my family.
I’ll let you in one more secret. I work hard all year, but Christmas Eve is my favorite night of the year. It’s when I get my best sleep ever! I call it my Christmas sleep. It’s the best sleep night of the year because I usually have no business calls and no place to be. My only care is just to be. I snuggle in and sleep like a baby.
So you see, December really is the month for me—launching Simply Pets Magazine, enjoying my birthday, celebrating Christmas, and relishing Christmas sleep! From my heart and house to yours this holiday season, I wish you a great Christmas sleep, a wondrous holiday, and a fantastic New Year!
~Laugh. Share. Play.