Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Eve Birthdays

My dad's birthday is on Christmas Eve; he would have been 72. This is the first birthday that he is celebrating in heaven.

Summer 2015
Growing up, Dad would get a single gift from friends and relatives that would be both his birthday and Christmas gift -- he usually didn't have birthday parties, since everyone was busy with holiday festivities. He felt like he didn't have birthdays like other kids did, and carried this sentiment into his adult life.

When my sister and I were kids, my mom made sure that Dad's birthday gifts were wrapped in birthday paper, Christmas gifts in Christmas paper. Every member of our family got to choose what the dinner was on their birthday, and for years my dad chose lasagna. My mom's homemade lasagna was our family's dinner on December 24th for years. All of his adult life my sister and I got him birthday gifts, even though we had stopped exchanging gifts with each other and my mom years before.

The traditions continue though he is gone.

My cousin Sam and his family live in Minneapolis now, and we invited them to join us Christmas Eve for church service and dinner. His parents drove up from Illinois and joined us as well. These are all relatives on my dad's side of the family, so it was appropriate that we were all together. Plus, they are wonderful people, and we enjoy visiting with them all.

We gathered around the tables set with the china from my childhood, china that my dad had bought for my mother while serving during the Vietnam War. We feasted on homemade stuffed pasta shells (the closest I can come to making lasagna), told stories and went through a few bottles of wine.

And, just like old times, we celebrated a birthday. This time it was Theodore's, my cousin's son who was born on December 24th last year.

Theodore unwrapping his gift.

A toy like the ones my girls loved when they were his age.
It was wonderful to spend this day with my extended family, making new memories and new traditions.

John and Deb Nemanich, Theodore, me, Marissa and Wayne, Sarah and Sam. Missing: Lindsey, who had a migraine

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