What Christmas and December have taught me

Christmas Archive Photo Julie Goldberg is seen here at 4 years old with a Winnie the Pooh book at Christmastime.

I’m only 25 years old, I’m the “baby” here in the newsroom, but I’ve learned a lot about Christmas and the month of December that I’m going to share.

I don’t only celebrate Christmas in December, I also celebrate Hanukkah. With a dad who is Jewish and a mom who is Catholic, we celebrate both holidays. My sister Megan, brother Mark, and I all grew up learning about two holidays in December.

When I was a kid, the first of Hanukkah was always celebrated at my grandparents’ or at my dad’s cousin’s house. We would eat latkes (potato pancakes) and bagels, gefilte fish (slimy balls of fish), and matzo ball soup (matzo balls served in chicken soup).

I’ve never thanked my parents for giving the three of us kids the opportunity to learn about two holidays as kids, but, every December, I’m thankful that we were given the opportunity to grow up and learn about two holidays.

Everyone knows that, as kids, they wanted all the popular toys, the cool clothes that every kid at school wore. When I was going into high school and cell phones were starting to grow, every kid wanted a cell phone. Making a Christmas list was easy as a kid, but now, as an adult, it’s hard. My parents asked me to make a list of some things I wanted a couple of weeks ago, and I still haven’t told them anything because I’m still thinking of what I need besides the usual clothes and movies.

One of my favorite things to do in December is to go on a mini-Christmas shopping spree with my dad. When I was a kid, we would always pick a Saturday to go and buy presents for my mom and siblings with the lists we were given. Dad would then wrap the presents, hide them in the bedroom closet, and put the gift under the tree a couple of days before Christmas.

I hope my dad is ready to do that when I go home next week, because I’m ready.

Since I’m an adult now, I take more time in what I get my parents, siblings, and close friends. To me, Christmas is about giving and seeing the looks on people’s faces when they open my gifts. Getting some time off of work and going home downstate to Clarkston to be with my parents and siblings is always the best part about the holidays.

We have the tradition of opening one present on Christmas Eve and then opening the rest Christmas morning.

I’ve also learned that everybody has those presents they got as kids that are their favorites and are ones that they will remember forever. I have a couple that stick out from the rest.

One year, I got a necklace with the letter J on it from Mark. Mark has autism and, when he was in school, his class would go Christmas shopping with a list of present options from my parents on what to get us. One year, I got that necklace. It was my favorite then and still is.

I still wear that necklace on occasion to special family events.

Another present that sticks out is a pair of necklaces that I got from my best friend, Kelsey, a few years ago. There was a gold necklace and a silver necklace, both with lockets, and on the inside of the locket is a very small picture of us from high school. I still don’t understand how she got the very small picture in the locket, and I will probably never figure it out, but that present is a favorite of mine. I wear the necklaces to work if they match what I’m wearing.

I have a three-foot Christmas tree on a table with lights and a few ornaments that I took from my parents in my apartment. I have lights on the window with a light-up snowman. I hate to admit it, but I had those up before Thanksgiving, even though I usually wait until December is here. I’ve already wrapped some presents for my family and friends that are sitting under the table, ready to go home to be put under the tree at my parents’ house.

Even though I’m only 25, I’ve already learned a lot about Christmas, the fun in giving people gifts, and celebrating two holidays in December is better than celebrating just one holiday.

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.