over the hills and through the snow

We’re heading back to PA this weekend for my sister’s wedding.

My youngest sister is getting married. Uhhhh!!!

Time flies when you’re having kids.

Anyway. It’s December. As I’ve mentioned, it’s a downright hectic time. There’s lots of tripping over each other, swearing, screaming, eating, dieting, drinking, dieting, running around, working, holiday partying, wrapping, shopping for birthday gifts, putting off shopping for Christmas gifts, wondering where all the money went, eating, dieting, drinking and wondering what ever happened to the company ham/turkey going on.

It’s freaking exhausting.

I haven’t had time to write. Haven’t had time to do much but worry and freak out and procrastinate and count money I don’t have anymore.

In between all this I’m daydreaming about the good old days when life was simpler. When the Graus were the Griswolds. When we would venture out as a family to the local Christmas tree farm with our saw, all of us bundled up against the cold. After all, who knew how long this would take? Dad always said we were gonna chop the first one we saw and run. It never happened. Year after freezing-cold year we’d trek deeper and deeper into the woods in search of the prize. No tree was big enough. No tree was too much for us to handle. Especially since Dad did all the sawing and heavy lifting. We girls hung back and judged him and the tree and wondered out loud after it was cut down whether it was big enough.

Our trees were always about 18-21 feet tall. Not big enough, in our minds.

Do you have any freakin’ idea how freakin’ heavy a 20-foot pine tree is?

Me neither.

Like I said, Dad dealt with all that part. We just walked behind him as he dragged that thing through the snow, complaining the whole way if too many needles fell off.

“Dad! Be careful! Geez! You’re leaving half the tree in the woods.”

He always, always warned us.

“This is the last year I’m doing this. Next year we’re getting a 6-foot tree. No discussion.”

I think there was some swearing in there. Not sure.

But guess what? Dad was outnumbered.

The girls won every time.

We’d somehow get that hugemongous tree on top of our car (it was hard directing Dad on how to get it up there. Whew. So tiring!) and head home    v    e    r    y     s   l   o   w   l   y.

There was always snow on the ground.

Lots of snow.

How is that possible? I swear it’s not my imagination. It was ALWAYS about 10 degrees or colder and there was at least a foot of snow on the ground.

It’s amazing. That global warming stuff must be true.

Back home several hours later, we’d all head inside to move furniture while dad prepped the tree (READ: CUT OFF THE BOTTOM TO MAKE IT A TAD BIT SMALLER. DO NOT THINK WE WEREN’T ON TO THIS TRICK).

We’d have music on (I remember lots of the Carpenters??) and watch the greatest movies ever made: A Christmas Story and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

We always had our boyfriends there (mine changed every year … the family joke. I had so many different boyfriends at the house it was hard to keep track. Makes looking back at old photos very, well, uh … yeah.) and ate LOTS of food. House smelled like a mix of meatballs, cold cuts, ham BBQ sandwiches (chipped-chopped ham if you’re from the ‘Burgh), Snickerdoodles, Whoopie Pies and those sugary cookies with some sort of yummy jelly cutouts on top.

That’s just on one plate.


I miss every single smell, sound, taste or other sensory image imaginable.

It was home. It was the holidays. It was us dangerously dangling on extension ladders to decorate the tree. Us listening to our mother complain about the icicles not being hung EXACTLY THE WAY SHE WANTED. Us watching the first ornament hung every year (the silly scarecrow…mom had the honors). Us all staying up way too late. Eating way too much. Laughing a lot and making amazing, unforgettable memories.

Now, I have my own family. I haven’t lived at home for an extended period of time since 1991. I have my own house and my own memories to make with my kids.

I wish I could make them even half as amazing as the ones I had.

I don’t know when all the partying ended. My mom and dad finally have a small tree. AND IT IS FAKE (but we won’t go there … sorry mom and dad. But that just sucks). We don’t all gather to put the tree up and decorate. It all sorta just happens whenever my mom and dad want to deal with it. There are no more late Christmas movie nights or Carpenters on the record player. I guess this is what happens when the kids grow up and move out. Depressing.

I tried to make plans for us all to do the annual Grau Christmas Party this year while we’re home for Little Sister’s Wedding. But her party trumped the Christmas party. Not enough time in a hectic weekend to do everything.

I’m bummed.

Maybe next year.

Till then, I’ll keep these memories close to my heart and try to figure out a way to make these type of memories with my own family.

Somehow, I don’t think we’ll be getting a 20-foot tree, though. Poo.


One thought on “over the hills and through the snow

  1. Have a great time while you are in town! One of these visits when you have a little time to spare, we’ll have to meet for coffee or something.

    I absolutely love your description of Christmas as a kid. Perfect.

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