I always loved when we had Christmas Eve with my mom's side of the family and Christmas night with my dad's side. Those were my favorite years. I can't really put my finger on why. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that my paternal grandmother always has tinsel on her tree. As a child, until the year I insisted on hanging it on our own tree, I loved tinsel. So maybe I loved having Christmas culminate with a sparkly tree. I don't know.
What I do know is that I remember, extremely clearly, a Christmas Eve at my Grandma Betty's and my Grandpa Bob's. My grandparents lived in a mobile home--my grandpa still lives there--and it didn't take much for it to fill with the heavenly scents of roast and potatoes and carrots. If I close my eyes I can almost smell it, mixing with the pine scent from their tiny tree...the one we would later plant on our hill. We gathered around the table, Grandma, Grandpa, Mom, Dad, Jon, Uncle Jason, Aunt Vicki, Kyle, Neil and I--Holly wasn't born yet, Neil was just a little guy himself. It was warm and homey and epitomized Christmas Eve.
When we opened our gifts I was thrilled to unwrap a Caboodle. At ten or eleven I was just dying for my own caboodly carrying case. I don't really know why. I wasn't wearing makeup so I have no clue what I actually intended to do with it. I remember putting temporary Charger tattoos and Blue Fins (my swim team) key chains in it. In any case, I was dying for a Caboodle. I still remember the smile on my grandma's face when I opened it. She was so pleased to have pleased me so much.
I'll never recapture the Christmas magic from childhoods at either of my grandparent's homes. I've been long grown and all of my cousins are well on their way. But the fact that discovering the magic of my Grandma Betty's smile at Christmas is now impossible makes me take a moment of pause. As I brought out my decorations this year I stopped and thought about my grandma. She made several of them and, as I placed them on shelves or hung them on walls, I thought of the Caboodle Christmas and a house full of delicious smells. I searched my mind for her smile and, when I found it, I carefully filed it back again, in a box marked, "Do Not Forget."