Merry Christmas Roscoe Village!
Our Chicago Family Christmas.
A few years ago my family stopped celebrating Christmas on Christmas. It was a logical decision. Our family is pretty small and we all live close, in Chicago and the suburbs, so we can see each other at any time. And my oldest sister is married and has a whole other side to her family. Since there really is no use to do the same thing two days in a row, she hosts a party on Christmas Eve, and then we’re all free to do as we please on Christmas.
Every year growing up Christmas was the same. On Christmas Eve we’d go to my maternal grandparents’ house (and later, after they passed away, my aunt’s house), where we’d eat Polish pierogi and play Scrabble. And then we’d go home and order pizza because I hated Polish food when I was younger and would only have munched on a plain bagel the Jewish relatives had contributed. And then we’d wake up on Christmas morning and run downstairs to see what Santa had brought. My dad would make my favorite Swedish pancakes and deliver them to me on the couch, fresh off the griddle. They’d be crispy on the edges and so warm and moist I could feel it at the back of my throat. Later in the day we would have Christmas dinner my paternal grandparents’ house or, later, hosted at our place.
Now, Christmas is much different. My grandparents have all passed away. So has one of my aunts. So has my father. And last year, I wasn’t even home. I celebrated in Vietnam, playing musical chairs with a Swedish girl and an Asian Santa, and Skyped my family, drunk, at 3 in the morning.
I still do try to keep Christmas traditions alive. Like how I refuse to go to bed until Santa tracker shows that Santa has come to Illinois (OK, so that is totally not something I did as a kid, seeing as how I didn’t even use the internet until 1999, but I’ve done it every year since I found out Santa Tracker existed). Or that I always put out cookies and a Pepsi because long ago my dad told me that Santa likes Pepsi, not milk.
And Heather and I have our new Christmas traditions, celebrating together any time we’re both orphaned in Chicago. We wake up and open presents first thing (she gave me a super-comfy pair of pink sweatpants from Bass Pro Shops – a souvenir from her travels, to Peoria, she said). We go to the other Starbucks (the one that’s a couple of blocks further away in the opposite direction from the one on our corner, because it is always open on holidays). Heather gives Bo a special Christmas Friskies meal. We go out for a Thai food dinner, the one time of the year we actually eat at the restaurant and don’t just order take out. And then we find an open bar to drink at. And then, we return home, and we yell “Merry Christmas Roscoe Village!” to no one. And to everyone.