3 Things My Family Lost This Christmas

Well, we didn’t actually lose them — we were just too exhausted to hunt them down.

One desperate Yuletide, our Elf on the Shelf was missing and I subbed in this perky plastic figure from the brand’s musical game.
  1. Crystal eggnog bowl. As we approach 30 years of marriage, I couldn’t tell you if our current one was my grandmother’s, my mother’s, Dan’s Grandma Millie’s — or a bridal shower gift from my friend Lorraine’s mom. (They tend to break.) I just know I look in the cut glass and see Christmas Eve in my childhood kitchen, when the bowl and matching cups, hanging on baby hooks around the rim, made their annual appearance and my smiling mother served homemade eggnog with a fragile ladle. I can see the clouds of thickly whipped cream, the dusting of nutmeg. We, too, have made eggnog, but this weary year, we poured the kind that comes in Farmland cardboard quart cartons from the CVS fridge. Ironically, the young girl in the house loved it. “This is the good stuff,” she said. (She hadn’t appreciated the pricier dairy farm blend, in glass bottles.)
  2. Base for Elf on the Shelf Singing Game. After our red felt elf girl caught fire near a candle flame (my hair got singed, too), she went missing the next year. I checked Montclair Stationery, but no luck there or at the corner toy store. I found a lone musical game, with a hard plastic elf sitting on a blue, battery-powered base that plays “Jingle Bells” and the elf’s voice. This year, we found the elf, not the base. It’s a blessing for my family, because I press the button again and again just to annoy them.
  • The red and white felt stocking made by Hattie Ashmore, the cleaning lady in aqua pantsuit who became my friend and confidant when she rolled her cart into the Rutgers Daily Targum office on nights when I was still at my typewriter. She lived in the New Brunswick projects; I lived in a sheltered dorm. My mother was gone; she mothered dreams for her grandkids. She wrote my name on the felt using glue and kelly green glitter. She pronounced it as Alison and that is how it appears on the stocking. I treasure it.
  • The dime-store tree ornaments — a fat, sparkly pheasant, the red plastic Santa with back sack to hold candy — that my grandmother Alice bought in New York City decades ago.
  • Three tiny plastic mangers with Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus glued on the bases, under glitter-sprinkled roofs. I received them as a girl (gifts from Saint Mary’s School) and used to arrange them carefully near the mini tree in my bedroom. Now, during each Christmas season, they stand on our mantel near the clock. The sweeping hands mark the time —minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day — as we move through our lives in this little house.

Magazine maven, craft coffee lover, legal guardian. Passionate about fashion and lipstick — though it may not look that way when I dash to the supermarket.

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