Just to explain, I have signed up with NaBloPoMo.  That’s a website that invites people to post a blog every day for the month of November.  Hence, I accept.  This is for November 4, 2014.


Today’s topic:  favorite holiday memory.  It all started 17 years ago.


My mother died on Thanksgiving Day, 1996.  My sisters and I decided we needed to keep that date as an honor to her and dad, who died in 1991.  We decided, therefore, to meet on Thanksgiving Friday every year.  Our families would be there, and we’ would rotate who hosted each year.  I can’t tell you where we started – not without checking out with my sisters, but we certainly have spun around the state several times since then, and we have had a super time together.  This arrangement allowed us to spend some time together as a family, and free us up to attend Christmas functions with our respective in-laws.  The holiday has a name as well – if one combines the terms of the winter holidays, we decided to call it ThanksChristGivingMas.


At that first meeting, my family brought the two of us and our two kids. My older sister and her husband brought their two, and my younger sister and husband brought their three.  That was it.  It was the usual Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, dressing, and all the fixings that go with it.  We also exchanged silly gifts – White Elephants, if you will – and over the years we’ve seen some pretty crazy stuff exchange hands.  Our only rules: cheap stuff, keep it under five bucks each.


Those guidelines have pretty well gone down the road.  Those gifts include a toilet seat, a leg lamp as seen in the CHRISTMAS STORY movie, a beanbag chair filled with green foam balls, (which keep coming back in various incarnations….) and so many more.  The plum, the golden gift, the Grail of the whole thing, though, is a priceless sentimentally valuable item that belonged to mom and dad.  This particular gift has passed from person to person over the run of the holiday


Picture if you will a Santa Claus doll, about 10 inches tall, complete with white hair and beard, red hat, black boots – and the ability, by way of a pair of D batteries, to swing a bell in its arm and waddle back and forth while playing JINGLE BELLS with an electronic tone that defines the idea of high-tech electronics of the 1960s.  This Santa incarnation was known to frighten children and encourage small puppies to clear their bladders on the kitchen floor.


So this gift became the ONE, the coup de present, the one nobody wanted… and it got to be a running joke.  We still by golly have the box, and the lid of that box contains the history of who gave and got the Santa doll year after year.


Bonus time: a few years ago, Wilma and I were at a garage sale.  Much to my screaming delight, there, still in its box, stood an identical Santa Doll…. Oh, how fun it was to give BOTH of them at the next ThanksChristGivingMas!


We have our 17th event later this month, but this time the guest list is larger.  The three of us and our spouses are still there, and most of the kids will be there – but since that first ThanksChristGivingMas, we have added a few more folks, including new wives and husbands, and a granddaughter for my older sister a handful of years ago … and just last year, two more granddaughters (one for each sister….) were added.  Two of the kids live close together, so for the first time, we will celebrate at two different homes.


This affair will be a favorite of mine to the end of my days…. And I’d like to see the fiftieth one at least.