Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas under the el tracks

Miller's Pub is a Chicago tradition, open since 1935. Every governor (even the incarcerated ones) has dined there. So have Marilyn and Frank. When John Lithgow was in town performing The Sweet Smell of Success, he was an apres show regular.

And today, my friend Mindy and her husband, John and I met there to celebrate the holiday. While I have done my due diligence and kept up with all both of them, Mindy and John haven't seen each other in nearly 25 years!

I appreciate the laughter and the good times. I am also giving myself a little pat on the back for being the hub that brought us together again. I will watch the DVD Mindy gave me (HBO's Girls) and she and her husband seemed to really appreciate the personalized frame designed for photos of their sons on their piano. (John is unemployed so he wasn't involved in the gift exchange, and that's cool.)

I know Mindy and I will get together next year at Christmastime. We always do. I hope next year the boys will join us again, too.

Well, that wasn't so bad

Last evening, on the 23rd, I celebrated "Unofficial Christmas Eve" with my sister's family. It meant a lot to my nephew that we eat at 4:00 and then open gifts, just as we have done at my late mother's house. My present from him was a gift bag filled with little things he chose, and paid for, himself: gingerbread marshmallows*, state-of-the-art litter pan liners (yes, really!) and these little handwarmers that he figures I'll need this winter while waiting for the train. He put a lot of thought into it and I appreciate it.

Then we all played this word game (Buzz It, I think) and laughed a lot. It wasn't the best Christmas Eve, but it was fine. All because my 13-year-old nephew really has the Christmas spirit.

Yes, I missed my mom. And I missed my niece, too. She just didn't feel up to facing the holidays and Chicagoland without my mother. So her boyfriend's family invited her family to join their celebration in Michigan. I understand why I wasn't invited -- his family has never met my niece's immediate family, much less her extended one, and it would have been inappropriate. Besides, my kid sister and I annoy each other too much for that trip to have gone well.

So in all, last night was as good as it was going to be. And that made me happy. For this Christmas is about new traditions, about what we have, not what we lost, and about being in the moment. My nephew had the right attitude.

*All I ever ask for is gingerbread cookies, and no one ever bakes them for me. It's become a running gag.