Christmas with the Cassidy Family

I remember so much about getting ready for Christmas as a kid.  It was easily my favorite time of the year.

My parents would pull these big brown barrels and totes out of the crawlspace.  Each one was full of Christmas decorations, ornaments, lights, you name it.   And it all had a special, Christmas-y smell to it.

Some of my favorite things to unpack were the snow globes.  We had about six of them.  My favorite was one that played Silent Night.  It had glittery/ shimmery fairy dust that was supposed to be snow.  It had a light wooden base and smelled like coconut.  Another one was an actual box that was pretty red and green with santa designs all over it.  You opened the box and santa popped up, like a jack-in-the-box.  This one was my brother’s favorite.  We set them up throughout the house and would go around shaking them and winding them up so they would all play music at the same time.  We were so cool.

We always had a fake Christmas tree for the most part (until we realized real trees were a thing!).  The tree we had was pre-lit and had character!  One set of the lights would blink after they got warmed up, but only that one section of the tree.  This was my favorite part of the tree.  My mom usually put that part against the wall, and it would make the wall blink.

My Grandpa once gifted each family with a set of lights (from Service Merchandise at the time, I think), and to me, they were the BEST lights.  They were indoor lights, and the same ones that he had decorating the interior of his house.  These fancy lights had little control box that allowed for SIX settings.  You could make them twinkle, chase, leave them on solid colors, or, my personal favorite, FADE in and out.  This was easily the coolest setting.

The exterior lights were also a big favorite of mine.  I would lay awake in bed and leave my blinds open so I could see my neighbors’ lights on across the street.  My dad would put the old school large bulb multi-color lights on the house and on our Christmas tree in the front of the house.  That was until, of course, the icicle lights became the fad.  We would decorate our big picture window with gold lights on the interior, and my mom had these cling decorative art things (before they were crazy popular).  They weren’t gel clings like you see now, but just flat plastic pieces that you would spread out on the window to create the tree and ornaments.

We also had a Lionel passenger train that we set up at the bottom of the Christmas tree each year.  It had a control box and you could make it go as fast as you’d want, but then it would consistently derail.  When the train was on the tracks and running, the passenger cars had lights that would go on and you could see the outline of people sitting on the train.  My favorite part.  Sadly, I think this train is probably in my parents’ crawlspace.  I told my mom to get cracking this weekend.  We are almost ready to move into our new house, and now is the time for her to purge the decorations that she might not want.  I want to make Christmas just as magical for my kids.

One of he other best parts of Christmas was FREE CABLE.  Well, it wasn’t free, but there was always a holiday deal that offered free installation and start up I think.  So we never had cable during the year, but when Christmas came, my parents would order it only for the months of December and January, until the deal was up.  Every year, we would get so excited when that pretty little cable box would appear on top of our giant Zenith TV.  Our favorite channel was Nickelodeon.  Are You Afraid of the Dark, Rugrats, Ren & Stimpy, Clarissa Explains it All, Doug, What Would You Do, Salute Your Shorts, and my all-time favorite, HEY DUDE!….  And then they had Nick at Nite, which also played some of my faves, like I Love Lucy, The Wonder Years, Mary Tyler Moore, and Bewitched!  I remember in the mornings getting ready for school, I would also put on VH1 in the mornings.  I think it was called JumpStart?  And I remember clearly the videos for Natalie Merchant’s “Carnival” on most mornings.  Also, Janet Jackson’s “Runaway”!  So it must have been 1995 – so would have been 5th/ 6th grade time frame.  CRAZY.  But I remember it so well.  My kids will probably never know the struggle of not being able to watch exactly what they want without commercials, let alone not having the luxury of cable and having to watch 2, 5, 7, and 9, etc.

Love love love the Christmas season!

Thank You For Being a Friend

I remember when I was younger, my Grandma (on my dad’s side) would ask all about my friends.  When I was having a birthday party for friends, she always asked who I was inviting and tried to remember the girls from when she may have seen them at our house in the past.

My Grandma passed away last year, and left a diary to me.  In that diary, she wrote about all of her time spent with my brother and I while we were growing up.  She loved writing and keeping records and dates of things that had happened in the past.  I even remember her having a paper calendar in their kitchen with so many notes scribbled on each small square.  I would read them and question what some things meant when I was younger.  She would write important things, such as birthdays, and other things that were not so important such as, “Seinfeld – funny episode” or “Letterman Top 10 List”…hilarious.

I remember telling her on many occasions that our close knit group of friends would be friends forever.  Oh, what a term!   Even as the years went by, and my group of friends changed, I still felt so strongly that I would remain friends forever with at least some of them, and that we would always be a big part of each other’s lives.  My Grandma was less than encouraging when I told her this!  I remember her saying on many occasions, “You’ll see Melissa, things will be different when you are all adults – you won’t be as close as you think”…this made me SO upset.  And because of that, I was more motivated than ever to beat the odds with my group of friends.

My Grandma is probably laughing at me up in heaven.  I mean, it’s not that I don’t have any friends.  But I’ve learned that as you get older and get into your adult years, get married, have kids, etc, the time that you have to call your own and devote to outside friends is few and far between.  That’s life, but that doesn’t make the reality of it suck any less.

The movie Now & Then is one of my favorite movies.  It came out at the perfect time for my group of friends and I (1995 – and I just realized that was more than 20 years ago – I feel older by the minute these days).  We all tried to pick someone in the movie that we could relate to or looked like, and we would channel that girl.   In the movie, when they fast-forward as adults, Chrissy is pregnant and goes into labor.  I don’t know why, but it always stuck with me that the three other girls were all in the room while she was giving birth (nevermind that one of them was a doctor or that they all just happened to be in town at that time).  I always wanted that for my friendships.  I wanted them to last.  I wanted all of us to live in a cul-de-sac in a small town and watch our kids grow up together and become the same kind of friends.  Hahaha, I was SO dumb and young.

I even thought about it as I was in labor with my daughter.  Don’t get me wrong, my husband was great and all that I needed at that time.  And maybe it’s just part of growing up. What I failed to realize in the movie (the movie that is not real life – I have to keep reminding myself of this) is that these women probably all went their separate ways and just HAPPENED to be back for one big event.  I’m sure they didn’t gab on the phone every day and see each other every month, let alone every year.  So goes the term, adulting.

I mean, we had all the time in the world when we were growing up.  No jobs (aside from one of our guy friends who pretended to caddy) or commitments other than babysitting (I’ll save the Babysitters Club for another post).  We spent our summer days riding our bikes around town, trying to get lost, buying 13 pieces of candy for a dollar, swimming, dancing, creating babysitter clubs, etc because we didn’t have jobs to worry about, or anything else of importance.   We were lucky to have each other when we did.  I’m sure not all adults look back happily at their childhood.  So instead of being sad that I don’t have some of those friendships now, I will choose to be happy that I can one day share the memories when my kids are old enough, and hopefully give them that same carefree childhood.

Until then, I will watch Now & Then and remember how great I had it growing up 🙂

BuzzFeed Now & Then

Sidenote:  I had no idea Bonnie Hunt was in this movie until just recently.  Hilarious.