Growing Three Sizes

Okay, so I already did this in an earlier post:


But in honor of the fact that the Grinch’s story doesn’t end there, I figured mine can’t either. I need to come full circle and find my Christmas spirit just like old Grinchy-pooh.

I watched a video the other day by Kristina Kuzmic (who I LOVE by the way) where she was talking about all the guilt she used to have about not being able to make Christmas “special enough” for her kids. She basically points out that this line of thinking is total Mommy-guilt BS our dumb brains tell us is true. **WE** are what makes Christmas special for our kids. For some reason I was thinking about that video this morning as I drove to work. When I think about Christmas during my childhood – what do I remember?

My Number One Christmas Memory

Literally the FIRST thing I think of when I think of Christmas during my childhood is this light-up ceramic church my grandmother had. It had these plastic-grain “stained glass” windows and played tinny Christmas music when you wound it. I remember just laying there after it got dark looking at it and the pretty colored light it shone onto the walls. I doubt it was anything expensive at all, but it was magical to me. It makes me sad that it never made it into my or my mom’s possession after my grandmother passed away.

Other Christmas Memories

Cookies. Cookies and MORE COOKIES. My grandmother and mom would start baking way in advance of Christmas and NO JOKE they would make like a 1,000+ cookies by the time they were done. My grandmother would store them in the garage (since it was cool out there). When I close my eyes I can picture it like I’m standing right there today –  shelves and shelves and shelves of mustard-yellow lidded Tupperware containers (some of which I still have to this day) full of cookies.

Getting to sit on the “good” furniture because that was the room the Christmas Tree was in. My grandmother was a good Italian; of course she had a room that no one was allowed to sit in.

The dried-macaroni wreath. Italian grandmother. Enough said.

The bottle cap Christmas Tree. See dried-macaroni wreath.

The Christmas Night Party. Every Christmas, after dinner, my grandparents threw a big party for neighbors and friends with all kinds of “snacks” (see aforementioned Italian grandmother and you will know why snacks is in quotation marks). You might think I remember this because it was a fun night when I got to run around and play while the adults kibitzed. But you’d be wrong ‘cuz none of them had young kids so there really wasn’t anyone to play with. It was just something that happened every year – it’s was Christmas.

Christmas dinner was lasagna. You might think this was because it was some kind of Italian tradition or something, but it isn’t. We had lasagna for dinner because my grandmother could make it in advance and freeze individual portions in these frosted glass containers she had and reheat them on Christmas day, because she was too busy getting ready for the party to cook dinner.

Loose change & rolls of pennies. My grandmother calculated to the PENNY how much she spent on Christmas gifts and everyone at the same “level” had to get exactly the same amount. My mom and Uncle – same amount. My stepdad and my Uncle’s wife – same amount. Me and my cousins – same amount. So she would wrap rolls of pennies, or loose change to ensure the amount was exactly equal. I will never forget the look of utter confusion on my husband’s face the first Christmas he spent with my family. My mom and I just about peed ourselves laughing at his utter bewilderment when he opened a package to find roll of pennies and like 32 cents in loose change.


And as for the “holiday season” leading into Christmas –  unless I am forgetting it entirely, there were no trips to reindeer farms, or breakfasts with Santa , or Christmas crafting extravaganzas, or going to see big light displays, or trips to the Nutcracker, or trips to the Christmas tree farm (fake tree!), or any of the other holiday season activities that we now seem to think are absolutely necessary to make our kids’ holiday special. I did (usually? always? I don’t even remember) do the whole mall Santa thing, but the rest of the month was just my family getting ready for the holidays.

As for presents, I do remember getting my first Cabbage Patch doll, and I remember getting my bike. I have no clear memory of opening a single other present I got (and I was an only child, so I got a lot of really awesome stuff). And honestly, I only remember those presents if I stop and try to remember opening gifts. It’s just not an integral part of my memories of Christmas.

So clearly, Kristina is right.


So what about you? What do you remember most? I hope you’ll share some of your memories in the comments section!


Don’t forget to check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes’ posts! Dozen and dozen of posts ranging from Christmas shopping violence to struggling with self-doubt to coping with sucky people to how I really feel about meatloaf. TTGV has it all! And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@tangentgirrl) and Facebook!






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Tiffani Panek

Wife of more than 20 years, mom, wrangler of a houseful of furbabies, and certified crazy person... Writing has always been a passion. I'm also an avid reader of everything from sci-fi/fantasy to historical accounts of creepy medical history. My first book A Home For Baby Acorn can be found on Amazon and Blurb, and my first adult venture - Wait, What Were We Talking About - will be available (hopefully) in 2018.

4 thoughts on “Growing Three Sizes

  1. Aside from the random spare change (seriously, that’s confusing to normal people), probably the two Christmases I remember the most are the two where I peeked, and how I felt on Christmas morning knowing what was coming. As much as I’d get excited right after I peeked, because I knew what was coming, I was even more disappointed on Christmas, because the anticipation wasn’t there.

    I still remember those toys too – one was a little pneumatic walking “robot” (a quick Google calls it the Tomy Stoomdorm), the other was Space Harrier 2 for the Sega Genesis. But more than anything, I remember the disappointed sense of “oh yeah, I knew this” when I opened them.

  2. Mine was the Christmas I got kissy Barbie (I’m too lazy to be like Dave and Google for her real name). She was ugly as sin with her Gelfling shaped mouth area, but damn, I wanted that doll. I begged and begged for her. One day, my parents went Christmas shopping and came home with all of these wrapped packages. Unfortunately, kissy Barbie was in a very distinctively shaped box. Even more unfortunately, the store employee wrapped it in that shape. The most unfortunate part, of course, is that I had a big mouth even then. I saw the box and screamed “you got me Kissy Barbie!” while I proceeded to jump up and down. My dad was PISSED. He muttered some stuff about how girls who ruin Christmas don’t get presents…or something that made me think that Kissy would never see the light of day (or my grasping, chubby hands). If you knew my dad, you’d know it would be like him to hold that toy back until Christmas afternoon to “teach me a lesson”. I was so excited to find her under our tree.

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