From buckets of ashes to intolerable itches, these are the moments that shaped our Holidays and our character. From the NBC Philadelphia family to you and yours, "Happy Holidays!" Oh, and fair warning: We do talk about a few "Santa" memories that you probably don't want the kids to see!
It’s a story I am sure I will tell my son someday -- it has stuck with me all these years and I’ll tell you why. I come for a very big Italian family, eight kids and enough extended family to fill a small town. So, Christmas was a BIG deal. Each Christmas Eve, they put the little kids to bed (me and my little sister) while the rest of them went crazy cooking, decorating, loading in presents and waiting for Santa to come.
Around midnight, one of my sisters would come wake us up to let us know Santa had come! Still trying to wipe the sleep from our eyes, we’d stumble down the never-ending staircase in our footie PJs only to be greeted by 30 to 40 people staring at us in anticipation.
It was always a big moment.
In fact, just writing about it makes my heart race. We would turn the corner and there, standing in our living room was a gigantic Christmas tree with presents spilling from one end of the room to the other. Now they weren’t all for us. Remember, there were up to 40 people there! So, you can imagine what that room looked like!
In the dining room was a 10-foot long table filled with pasta, ham and all things delicious. The smell of the food actually helped wake us up.
Into the living room we’d travel. My sister Lisa and I would sit down like queens and begin opening our stockings -- the start of a magical evening. Everyone watched on and laughed as they relived the glitter of Christmas through us.
Well, this is how we spent our Christmases until my 9th year… Now, granted, we had plenty of warning of things to come: "Santa’s watching!" "He’s not happy with you girls fighting." Why we didn’t believe the threats is beyond me.
So anyway, things all began the way they had in years’ past. Goodnight, wake up, stumble down the stairs, smell the food, turn the corner and voila! Lisa and I took our place just in front of the fireplace and awaited our treasures. Our stockings were handed down to us. We reached inside and OH NO. REALLY? COAL? This cannot be right. Both of our stockings were filled with coal.
It was devastating, but ok, lesson learned, now can we open our gifts?! The other gifts under the tree were handed out one by one to everyone in the room. They were laughing and enjoying their wonderfully wrapped gifts while we just sat and watched.
Then, it was over. We got nothing! How could it be? Everyone went about their business and headed to the food table. We sat and looked at each other. What was going on?
Slowly we got up and walked to the table of food and tried to eat, but it felt surreal. After everyone had sat down and begun eating, the doorbell rang. My mom said to me, "Go see who that is." I didn’t want to, but clearly, not listening had gotten me into this mess, so I’d better go.
I opened the door and sitting there was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen…a big pink bicycle and piles of presents!
Christmas was saved!
My sister and I quickly brought all the packages inside and reveled in the fact that Santa had forgiven us at the last minute. What a night that was! My parents clearly made an impression on us that has lasted a lifetime.