This year marks an important milestone in my family. It’s the first Christmas Eve not being celebrated at my childhood home. Ever since I can remember, there was a Christmas Eve party at Goebel Road. Whether I attended or not – it happened.
Despite being 100% Ashkenazi Jew, both my parents celebrated Christmas. Before they divorced (when I was 7) the only time I remember getting a Hanukah gift was when my mother gave me something she didn’t want my father to know about! My most memorable Christmas as a child was the year I got the Sears Kitchen – probably early 1960s, because I remember my father was still around.
After my mother married the very Italian Al Falcone, Christmas Eve became a really big event. There was pasta!!! Bloody Marys with wilted celery. Deviled eggs. Shrimp. Cookies. More cookies. The ubiquitous tin of Butter Cookies – whether we liked them or not!! And people. Lots of people.
At first, it was just the 10 of us (Mom and Alfie had 8 kids between them), a few relatives, and some neighbor friends. As we got older, our “significant others” joined in. Some of those became our spouses! Then came the next generation – there are 13 grandchildren, all of whom joined the Christmas Eve festivities at one time or another.
There was always laughter, and for a few years, a lot of crying. “Don’t they understand, I’m only 10!!” (My nephew crying after receiving a gift card. He had no idea what it was!) And one of my all-time favorites – “I already have underwear, see?” (Another nephew, as he pulled his underwear up over the top of his pants.)
Each Dec. 24 we marked the passing of another year with tons of presents, lots of laughter, and lots of noise.
December 2004 was somewhat somber. The absence of Alfie was keenly felt. We made sure to continue the Christmas Eve tradition, complete with the Dean Martin figure standing on the bar, belting out song.
December 2011 was very difficult. Mom had passed just a few weeks earlier. But, because of that, most family was still in the area. We also had a reason to celebrate – Caitlin and Matt Hardy had gotten engaged!
By December 2012, Meghan and her beau, Andrew Jefts decided to purchase the house at Goebel Road, thereby assuring us a few more years of our Christmas Eve tradition.
Since then, we have lost more family. This past year, our sister Laura lost her spouse, John Falquero. Everyone from our parents’ generation is gone, with the exception of George Bathgate, my step-sibs stepfather, and two of my stepmothers, Deborah Hobson and Sandra Campbell. We are the now the “old folks.”
And we no longer have the Goebel Road home. After bringing the house back to life, it was time to move forward. This past July, Meghan and Andy moved to a beautiful home in Southbury, CT.
Tonight we will celebrate Christmas Eve in a new space. Our family is spread all over the United States. It will be a small group. But, as I have written many times before, nothing breaks the bonds of our family.
Whether we are in the same space or 1,689 miles away in Boulder, Colorado we will all be celebrating together, holding the memories of those no longer with us in our hearts and hoping the new year will bring us all health, happiness and joy.