Ever since I was fifteen, I’ve had mixed feeling about the holidays. Many things happened that year that forever ceased the traditions that I had grown up with. I learned then, that nothing lasts forever…
But I also learned that you get to make your own traditions. Eight years ago, I learned that people actually celebrate Christmas Eve; my family never did that growing up. I thought it was just a night where you went to bed early…nothing special. I have learned otherwise.
Christmas Eve for me, is a time to spend with one of my favorite families. Every year, I travel to their house in Astoria and we gather in the basement together. As per the normal tradition, the food consists almost entirely of seafood, which, as you should know, I do not eat, but I still manage to leave there entirely stuffed. They start the meal off with a prayer, and with borscht…I’m not fond of beets either, so I do not eat this. I do however eat lots and lots of homemade pierogi; my friend’s grandmother is from Poland and they are sooo good.
The other thing about Christmas Eve in Astoria is the drinking that ensues. I, the wine lover that I am, came prepared (prepared to take multiple trips to the liquor store that is). Normally, my friend’s uncle brings several bottles of his homemade wine…yes, he makes wine. I remember the first year that he started making it; it was pretty bad, but over the years it has gotten really good. Sadly, this year, he did not bring any, but we did polish off quite a few bottles. This is definitely the one night a year that everyone (with exception towards the ten year old) is a lush…well, okay, I’m always a lush whenever I hang out with this family and they are too.
Besides the traditions of the excessive drinking and the seafood is the tradition of my playing Twister with the kids (some of which are now mostly grown up). I don’t remember what year exactly it started, but for many years now, in the midst of everything, Twister is broken out…and did I mention that every year I always win? I wasn’t going to play this year because of my knee, and I know that that is why my knee is hurting now, but I ended up being persuaded to play anyway…and I won again, despite the knee injury ☺.
After a few hours of sobering up and drinking water, at the wee hour of two-something in the morning, I embarked on my way home; becoming the designated driver for my drunk friend and driving us back to the neighborhood since we live close to each other. In years past we’ve ended up staying overnight in Astoria and waking up, rushing to get home on Christmas morning, both with hangovers… I definitely prefer this arrangement. It’s for purely selfish reasons…I love being able to know how I am getting home and not waking up the next day with a hangover.
I crawled into bed sometime after three o’clock, thoroughly exhausted, texting the two young drivers who drove their drunken parents home to make sure their trips went well. After having horrible insomnia for the past few nights, I was able to fall asleep quite quickly…my body couldn’t take it anymore.
The next day, after sleeping rather late for me, I rushed to shower and change, trying to beat the clock before my father came over to take me back to his place in Brooklyn to spend the day with him and his girlfriend, where we ended up watching the movie Water for Elephants…oh, and my dad’s girlfriend broke out a bottle of Chianti; it was soooo good ☺