The Door to December 24th: Christmas Eve
“28 ST. MARTIN STREET”
My advent calendar project hit a buzzsaw called Christmas Present. Christmas 2018 swallowed me up, and I couldn’t spare the creative space needed to close out my project. I back ended some pretty important memories to the end of the calendar for dramatic effect and because it is emotionally hard to write about these things. It leaves me exhausted, yet grateful for such heavy lifting. Please forgive an ambitious man for a late delivery. Sometimes when you let something marinate and breathe a bit, it becomes better for it. I certainly hope so.
I am blessed to have lived through many treasured moments in my life, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t express how very warm and full of heart I become when I recall these times, our times. Merry times, happy times, unknowing times, taken for granted times. Holding short moments for a fraction of time.
We simply inherited a sense that tradition is and always has been important. It is a gift from those that came before us. It is a gift full of wisdom and righteous remembering, and the action of choosing to be together. Blending family and the precious commodity of time creates magic.
The town where I grew up was small, but seemed large to me as a child. It is full of history, and I could walk to any of my near relatives homes within 3-5 minutes. This reality provided me with a false sense that I would always have this convenience of access throughout my life. It wasn’t until I set out into the world that I experienced how small my world truly was and just how lucky I had been to have had such access and time with my closest relatives growing up. It’s not the kind of thing you become aware of, until it changes.
Life moves, life breathes, nothing stays forever, and that is why upon reflection of the holidays of the past, I warmly remember Christmas Eves spent at 28 St. Martin Street with the special people you see in the photograph above.
Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a Christmas Card/Invitation would come to us from Uncle Mike, Aunt Donna, and Cousin Christy. It would invite us up to their place at 28 St. Martin Street, to celebrate Christmas Eve. Festivities would begin promptly at 6ish. We’d meet, eat, make jolly, and tell stories of the past year. It was a great pre-cursor to Christmas Day celebrations.
Much of the revelry would take place in the kitchen, as it generally does in Irish-American households. Never entering through the front door, but only through the back door, which you would arrive to after you had to walk down a short walkway abutting the house.
Generally, those visiting knew to come to the back door. If they didn’t, we knew they were strangers.
Many great Christmas Eve’s were spent in the company of the Hickey’s, the Lane’s, The Connolly’s, The Warner’s, The Blakie’s, The Dowling’s, The Merullo’s, and any and all that I may have neglected to mention. I’m so grateful that we were a part of something so memorable, that has sustained the fire of memory in my heart. The ghosts of Christmas Past are never too far away.
Although, we’ve lost some of fellow travelers in this life, our family still sustains. We are so lucky to still have opportunities to gather, and we make great use of the examples of living revelry that are evidenced in the photograph above. I look at all of our eyes in that picture, and I see a million different stories and thoughts. I never knew I would be where I am now, but I know for certain that it was a damn wonderful thing to be there then.
Merry Christmas to Uncle Mike, Aunt Donna, and Cousin Christy. Thank you for sharing your home with all of us, and for creating a lasting tradition. Whenever I look at this photo, I know how perfect a moment can be, and how very precious it is to capture it.
Love to Richie, Irene, Paul, Kathy, and Kevin.