43 years of Christmas Eve (kind of)

My parents started hosting Christmas Eve for our extended family in 1977, the year after my grandfather died, which also spelled the end of my grandparents hosting it, as my grandmother moved back home to Pennsylvania after she was widowed. At the end of the evening’s festivities, we take a picture in front of the tree.

In 2017, for the 40th anniversary of that tradition’s start, I posted the pictures for 1977 and then every tenth year after that, which I have followed up in 2018 with the pictures for 1978 and every ten years after, and then I did it again in 2019.

This year, thanks to the apocalypse, we did not do the big family Christmas Eve, but we did do Christmas Day over Zoom. However, I want to keep the tradition going, though it’s a bit truncated a) because we didn’t really do it this year and b) we don’t have a copy of the picture from 1980.

I will say that in 1980, I was 11 years old. This was the last Christmas where I would be the only one of my grandmother’s grandkids in the picture, as my uncle Fred’s wife Roxanne was pregnant with their first kid, Jared. (My aunt Monica, who never did Christmas Eve with us after she followed her mother to Pennsylvania, also just had her first kid, my cousin Laura, in the fall of 1980.) My uncle Nat was, by this time, either dating or was married to his second wife, ToniAnn.

In 1990, I was 21 years old, and had the previous May graduated from Fordham University. When this picture was taken, I had been working at Library Journal as an assistant editor for six months. I was still dating Marina, who was in the midst of her graduate work at MIT at this point. Nat and ToniAnn had split up and he had married Ginny, and had two kids with her.

Standing, l.-r.: John (third parent), Marina, Helga (fourth parent), my father, my mother, Fred (maternal uncle), Nat (maternal uncle), Roxanne (Fred’s wife), Ginny (Nat’s second wife), and Alissa (Nat & Ginny’s older daughter).

On the floor, clockwise from upper left: Blair (Fred & Roxanne’s second son), me, Victoria (Nat & Ginny’s younger daughter), Jared (Fred & Roxanne’s oldest son), and Dillon (Fred & Roxanne’s youngest son).

Not in the picture because she was taking it: Livia (paternal aunt).

In 2000, I was 31 years old. Marina and I had split up that fall, and I had starting dating Terri. This was her first Christmas with the family, indeed, her first time meeting several members of the family. I was living in Weehawken at this point; Terri and I would move in together the following April. By this time, Nat and Ginny had split up, and Nat was dating a woman whose name I don’t recall two decades later; she had two daughters, who also came along.

Back row, l.-r.: Blair, Helga, Fred, my father, Nat, and John.

Middle row, l.-r.: Livia, Nat’s date’s older daughter, Dillon, Nat’s date’s younger daughter, Victoria, my mother, Nat’s date, and Terri.

Bottom row, l.-r.: Jared, Alissa, and Roxanne.

I’m not in the picture because I was taking it.

In 2010, I was 41 years old. Terri and I had broken up the year before and I started dating Wrenn. She and Dale moved in with me in May of 2010. Fred and Roxanne had split by this time, and Dillon had moved down to Florida with her. Nat was now married to Donna, his fourth wife.

L.-r.: Wrenn, Fred, me, my father, Helga, my mother, Donna, John, Nat, Dale, Jared’s date (whose name I no longer recall), Blair, and Livia.

Not in the picture because he was taking it: Jared.

This year, we didn’t do the family Christmas Eve. I don’t know if we will next year — my parents are older now, and most of the extended family either isn’t local (most of them) or have their own thing on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day this year, we did do a family thing over Zoom, but we couldn’t really do the picture in front of the tree.

We’ll see what next year brings…..

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