Here's to the Magic Makers | A Holiday Tribute

Thursday, December 13, 2018

What are your fondest memories of celebrating the holidays as a child? Maybe it’s that punch with the frothy top that Grandma always made, or maybe you remember plucking a piece of paper with a name written on it from a fake tree and choosing the perfect gift for someone in need. Perhaps it’s that whole day of baking that took place with half of your family crammed into the kitchen, feet aching and flour flying through the air. Or it could be leaving the midnight service, the air icy cold and thick with anticipation.

I remember the Aunt Kathy Christmas.

Growing up, we often gathered for Christmas Eve at Aunt Kathy’s house. This is when Aunt Kathy and her family still lived on Riverview Drive, which was neatly lined with smaller town-homes. I remember so clearly pulling up to that driveway the night before Christmas and being greeted by the display of caroler dolls and Santa statues positioned in her front bay window. Inside was cozy, with festive décor everywhere you turned and, of course, the shining centerpiece: the tree.

My family’s traditional Christmas dinner was a delivery pizza, but we knew to save room in our bellies for a table full of late-night hors d’oeuvres once we arrived at Aunt Kathy and Uncle Bob’s. There would be pigs-in-blankets (of course), mini meatballs, cut up vegetables, chips and dip, and, most years, baked ziti. For dessert there would be cake shaped like a wreath and leftover gingerbread houses that we had decorated when she invited all the kids over for some holiday fun days before.

We cousins would line ourselves up on her extra large, L-shaped sectional with plates of potato chips (sorry for the crumbs, Uncle Bob) and wait until we got the “okay” to begin peeking at tags on the gifts piled beneath the tree and commence the opening. I’m sure you can imagine it: balled up wrapping paper everywhere, squeals of excitement, hugs all around.

As we headed out into the frosty night at party’s end, Aunt Kathy would swear that she just heard Santa’s sleigh bells. I would spend the drive home searching the dark skies.

Christmas Eves were different once Aunt Kathy and her family moved from the Riverview house, I’m sure partly because I – along with everyone else – was getting older. But she still managed to make them special. I remember one year not so long ago especially fondly, when long folding tables were set up end by end in the new den and Aunt Kathy had us sit around them singing Christmas carols. While we were singing, we needed to pass something around – I forget what it was now – and when the carol ended, whoever was holding the object won a prize from a pile of small wrapped gifts she had prepared. This is one of my most cherished memories because it’s one of the last Christmases we were all together.

Right up until her last breath on New Year’s Eve two years ago (you don’t think she would have dared miss Christmas, do you?), Aunt Kathy brought the magic. And though she isn’t here today to thank for a lifetime of truly precious holiday memories, I feel her in the details of this season and like to think she’s proud that I’m trying my best to carry on her joyful spirit for my own girls.

So this December, let’s raise our glasses of frothy punch and forks full of baked ziti to the magic makers: the ones who bring us together year after year to create everlasting memories with those we love most. I know I will be, and you better believe I’ll be searching the skies once again this Christmas Eve.


  1. What a sweet tribute to your Aunt Kathy. She seemed like a great lady and I hope you carry on her traditions.

  2. What a wonderful description, I felt as if I were there! Your Auntie sounds like a wonderful lady - and I loved hearing about all that Italian food! J xx

    1. Thanks so much, Joanne. Missing her a lot this holiday! xo


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