Holiday

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Remembering Some Of Our Coziest, Funniest, Christmas Memories

Mine involves dancing to Billy Joel.

For many of us, the holidays generate some of our most vivid memories. And it's funny the weird things that stick with us. It's often not at all the presents or the egg nog. For some laughs and a bit of cozy cheer, I rounded up people's favorite Christmas memories.

Maybe it's the memory of spying your Barbie Dream House under the tree. Or maybe it's the memory of the family dog eating Ken's face off. Maybe it's the memory of crowding on the couch to watch great movies like It's a Wonderful Life, or — as my family did — horrible movies like Christmas with the Kranks.

One of my own favorite memories is from when I was about 8 years old. It was a few days before Christmas, and I remember my mom was putting some finishing touches on the tree. My older brother and I could barely contain our excitement, and he went and got his brown Fisher Price record player, and the 45 of Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl." At the time, we thought this was pretty much one of the greatest songs ever composed. (I kind of still stand by this...) We played the record over and over, and held hands and danced around the tree while my mom strung tinsel. To this day, I associate the "whoa oh oh oh oooohs!" of that song with memories of a sun-filled room, and feelings of happy anticipation and joy. A bit random, I know. But as I said, oftentimes it's these oddball, unexpected little moments that stay with us. And it's a sweet reminder if you're worried about your own children's happy memories, that the smallest, seemingly insignificant moments (to you) will last forever in their hearts and minds.

1

A New Family Recipe

"One year, my dad decided on Christmas Day to try something he'd read about in a magazine: cooking salmon in the dishwasher. He broiled some salmon in the oven, too, so that we could compare the two. The steamed dishwasher salmon was pretty good, as I recall. But the fondness of the memory comes from all the laughter that day. Tom's Dishwasher Salmon will always be one for the memory books in my family. Made all the more hilarious because he bears a striking resemblance to Santa Claus." — Elizabeth

2

All The Tears

"A favorite memory was the Christmas Eves we always spent at my grandparents 'house in San Francisco. Shortly after arriving, my grandpa Fred — aka "Papa" — would come down the stairs in a Santa hat, red t-shirt, and a white blazer — he was a lawyer — and with shaving cream all over his face for the beard. He was a very emotional man, and the sight of all us grandkids made him sob with joy. And with the shaving cream, it always got a little messy." — Annie

3

Best. Gift. Ever.

"The year I got my first Nintendo. The tag said: "To Teddy and all the kids." I was so happy." — Ted

4

The Little Things

"Well, as a Jewish person, we did not celebrate Christmas, but one year we put out our actual socks as stockings, and each got a Kleenex and a paperclip. Believe it or not, that is a happy memory." — Emily

5

The Impactful Gift

"When I was 11, my mother spent the entire year saving up for our very first family computer. Every week she'd make a tiny deposit toward it. It's funny to think back on the computer now — the keyboard was the size of a board game while the screen itself was tiny — but I loved it. And grew up to be a computer programmer, so it clearly had an impact." — David

6

A Warm & Cozy Night

"I remember one year the heat went out on Christmas Eve. So my dad built a fire, and the entire family — me, my parents, and siblings — slept in sleeping bags next to the fireplace, down by the Christmas tree. I was about 7, and I thought it was the most magical night of my life. I remember I was worried about Santa getting burned coming down the chimney with the fire going, but my parents reassured me his boots and suit were fireproof. I woke up to presents scattered under the tree. How they managed to put our presents out without any of us waking up remains a mystery!" — Jessica

7

Pure Christmas Magic

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"I remember Christmas break seeming to last forever, even though it was probably only a few weeks… and being able to stay in pajamas all day, or change in to my new Nike Air Jordan gear. I do have a vivid memory of one year, my older brother was sitting at the top of a ladder in a long Santa hat, hanging ornaments on the tree, and my dad had just made a fire. I was lying on the couch watching this weird movie called The Peanut Butter Solution, and my mom was making beef stew, and said she was going to make hot cocoa later. And I still think back to that time, and I didn’t have one worry in the world. Everything was pure Christmas magic." — Graham

8

The Big Brother Laugh

"As the sixth of seven kids, most of my family had left home by the time I’d hit my teens. My older brother Declan lived in London, and I was always so excited to see him at Christmas, though I felt shy around him, and badly wanted to impress him. I remember one Christmas Eve he was visiting, and I made some offhand joke. Declan overheard me and laughed long and loud. I can’t even remember the joke, all I remember is how happy I was that Declan was home, and that I'd said something clever enough to make my clever big brother laugh." — Nicola

9

When Life Imitates Art

"When I was 12 I got my first ever skateboard, after months of begging my parents for one. I was not, shall we say, the most graceful of kids, and they were worried I'd get hurt. So I was totally surprised when I came downstairs and saw the board under the tree. But it all took a very A Christmas Story-like turn, because my very first time on the board, I fell and knocked my front tooth out. Yep. But I still loved that skateboard." — Brian

10

Latkes & Bowling

"We celebrated Hanukkah, and my grandmother would always make homemade latkes and we’d all end up smelling like fry cooks after an eight-hour shift. After the dinner, my large extended family would always go bowling. Seems like a quirky tradition now, but we weren’t alone — those bowling alleys were packed!" — Dana

11

That Time A Ninja Took Out The Tree

"So this is one of those memories that I only really appreciated once I got older. But when I was about 8, it was Christmas morning and my brother and I were racing into the living room to see the presents. My brother was 12, and was dressed like a ninja, because he was obsessed with ninjas at the time. Anyway, we ran into the room and my brother ran for the presents and tripped over our dog. He fell straight into the tree, and pulled the entire tree down on its side. I can still remember it so clearly — the image of our Christmas tree looking like it had just been taken out by this adolescent ninja. At the time, I was super upset that he'd ruined our tree, which I thought meant he'd ruined Christmas. But now whenever I think about it, I burst out laughing. It remains my favorite Christmas memory." — Laura

12

Ice Surfing

"I remember one year there had been this big ice storm, and our driveway was like an ice rink. The driveway was on a slight slope, and ran down the side of a hill. My little brother and I went out right before dinner to knock down icicles and mess around, and we just kept slowly letting ourselves slide down the hill. We called it 'ice surfing.' We did it over and over. I just remember it was this really clear night and you could see the stars, and the lights from the kitchen where my mom was fixing dinner. It's weird that it made such an impression. But it was like I had some sense that I needed to hold on to the moment, because I knew my childhood would be over soon." — Andrew

13

That Year She Was Sick In Bed

"One year I had a strep throat on Christmas eve, and my granddad had to take me to the ER to get a shot. That’s the only time I ever was by myself with him, so it was special. I had to stay in my bedroom for the rest of the day and night, while my whole extended family — including folks from California and my new baby niece — had a party. But! My dad moved the TV into my room and I got to watch Hollywood Squares from my bed." — Heather

14

So No One Told You Carolers Sang This Way

"One year my family had just moved into a new neighborhood, and we were so surprised when actual Christmas carolers stopped by our house. My sister and I were 7 and 8, and had never seen actual carolers before. We absolutely loved it, and begged our parents to let us go caroling, too. But we were Jewish, and didn't really know any Christmas carols. However, my parents could see how badly we wanted to do it, and so they let us walk over to our next door neighbor's house and sing the only two songs we could think of that the whole family knew all the words to — "Jingle Bells" and the theme song from Friends. The neighbors thought it was hilarious, and gave us all candy canes before we left." — Anna

15

Too Much Apple Pie

"I have a very vivid memory of one Christmas after the big dinner when I hung out at the table with just my mom and my grandma. I was maybe 7, and I sat on my grandma's lap while they talked. They were just chatting away, and were letting me eat as much apple pie as I wanted. I ate almost the entire pie. And it was just the sweetest, coziest moment. Until, of course, I threw up all over the table. To this day, if I even smell apple pie it makes me gag. Though weirdly, the smell also just reminds me of Grandma, and how safe and loved I felt." — Katie