Since 1977, Christmas Eve has been celebrated at my parents’ house. Over the subsequent four decades-plus, it’s gone from a huge raucous celebration with extended family to something that really only includes my parents, me and Wrenn, and my aunt/godmother Livia, as other family members have moved away, moved on, or passed away.
Every year, we do a picture in front of the tree at my parents’ house, which we wound up not doing this year, but did do at Livia’s house today, so it’s almost the same thing. Back in 2017, I did a look back at every ten years of the picture, in 1977, 1987, 1997, 2007, and 2017. I did it again for the 8’s in 2018, for the 9’s in 2019, and the zero years in 2020. It’s pretty much a blog tradition, so here we go again for the 1’s…..
In 1981, I was twelve years old. When he was in college, my father’s two best friends were Bert and Joe. While our Christmases were for family, our definition of “family” was always very broad, so Bert joined us for Christmas a few times, including in ’81, along with my twin uncles, Fred and Nat, and their spouses and children.
L.-r.: Bert, Helga (fourth parent), John (third parent), Daddy, Anthony (my maternal uncle’s stepson), Nat (maternal uncle), Mommy, Fred (maternal uncle), Roxanne (Fred’s wife), Jared (Fred & Roxanne’s first kid, eleven months old), ToniAnn (Nat’s wife, Anthony’s mother), and me.
Not in the picture because she took it: Livia (paternal aunt).
In 1991, I was twenty-two years old. Nat has divorced ToniAnn and married Ginny, and also had two kids with her. Fred and Roxanne have had two more kids. Marina and I have been dating since 1987, and are now living together and will be married the following year. I was working as an assistant editor at Library Journal, while Marina was a computer programmer on Wall Street.
This was the first Christmas Eve in my parents’ current house, which they had just moved into two months earlier.
Standing, l.-r.: John, Marina, Helga, my father, my mother, Fred, Nat, Roxanne, 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, and Dillon (Fred & Roxanne’s youngest son).
Not in the picture because she took it: Livia.
If this picture looks familiar, it’s because I posted it a year ago as the 1990 picture, except it was the 1991 picture, which I should’ve realized because of where it was taken. I have edited last year’s post with the actual 1990 picture. Sigh.
In 2001, I was thirty-two years old. In the intervening ten years, Marina and I got married, bought a co-op on the Upper West Side, and then split up. In April 2001, I moved in with Terri. By this time, I was a full-time freelance writer. Nat and Ginny had also split up.
Standing, l.-r.: Blair, Roxanne, Fred, Alissa, Helga, my father, my mother, Nat, John, Jared, Livia.
Sitting, l.-r.: Dillon and Victoria
Not in the picture because we took it (we were using two separate cameras for some reason): me and Terri.
I don’t have a picture to post for 2011. That year, I was forty-two years old. Terri and I had split up, and Wrenn and I had moved in together, along with her adoptive brother Dale. That year, in the same spirit as Bert joining us in ’81, another couple joined us as well. Fred and Roxanne had split up by this point, with Dillon having moved to Florida with her. My other cousins had started to drift away, and none of them were there that year (two of them would return in 2012, but that was the last time any of them would join us for Christmas Eve). Nat was now married to his fourth wife Donna, and they spent that Christmas Eve with Donna’s family.
In 2021, I’m fifty-two years old. My mother went through grueling cancer treatment from 2014-2016. Wrenn and I got married in 2017. Dale died suddenly in 2018. By this time, the Christmas Eve celebration only includes the immediate family, and the same group also gathers on Christmas Day at Livia’s. My parents were unable to put up a tree this year (the place where they stored it had sufficient mildew that both my mother and Helga reacted badly to it when they took it out), so we did the tree picture at Livia’s on the Day instead of on the Eve.
L.-r.: Helga, Livia, my father, my mother, John, Wrenn, me.
I want to post one more picture that I should have included in last year’s post: a screen grab of our Zoom Christmas in 2020, which included my aunt Monica and her two daughters, as well as more found family, ToniAnn and Kyle:
Top row, l.-r.: John, my mother, me, Wrenn, my father, Livia, Helga.
Bottom row, l.-r.: Elizabeth (Monica’s younger daughter), Monica (maternal aunt), Laura (Monica’s older daughter), Kyle, ToniAnn, and Professor Zoom.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!