Memories of My Best Christmas in Chicago

Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year. There are so many memories surrounding Christmas that people conjure that brings out the child in us. Everyone remembers their favorite presents and what their favorite meal is, (dressing) but what everyone usually forgets is their family. Ever since I can remember, my family has gathered on Christmas Eve. Over the years, I gained some fond memories of that day, and also on New Years Eve, but that’s another story.

Proceeding up to Christmas Eve, my entire family had to choose someone for the grab bag. This was done on Thanksgiving. Once this simple task was done, we had to do the toughest thing, which was find out which crappy gift your cousin could pretend they liked. This we found to be an insurmountable task. It was always a toss up, not knowing what each cousin would like. One of these gifts that all of the cousins received was a Chicago Cubs wallet. What you have to realize is my family lives on the South Side which is designated for Chicago White Sox fans. My cousins weren’t very thrilled with it. Me being the only Cubs fan, I was on cloud nine. I took that wallet from my grandfather and carried it proudly. This was in 1998.

One thing that we always looked forward to was the money we received. I know what you’re thinking, “Christmas is about giving and not receiving.” You also have to realize we loved receiving money from our grandmother. At the time, there were twelve grandchildren, and my grandmother gave all of us twenty-five dollars. This was the highlight of our night. To this day, my grandmother continues to give us money, but instead of twenty-five she gives us fifty. She does this while some of us live out of state too.

Now that we are older, those small memories that we didn’t cherish are gone. Out of all the gifts that I received throughout my twenty-five years, there’s one gift that will always standout to me. That’s the wallet. When my grandfather gave me this cheap wallet, I never in a million years would have thought it would mean so much to me. It means a lot because in 2005 my grandfather died. That cheap wallet that he gave us became the Mona Lisa to me. There was nothing going to separate me from that wallet. Today the wallet is completely unusable, but I still have it. It has become my prized possession.

It is the fun memories as a family that we have to remember. The gifts and MONEY are fun to get, notice the emphasis on money, but they will never replace what Christmas is supposed to be about. It’s about family and celebrating Christ. It’s about cherishing those around you. This Christmas I challenge everyone, no, I order everyone to cherish and love those around you. Let the fun memories of family be the reason you celebrate Christmas, not the gifts.

I will always remember staying up late at night with my cousins, joking around…but I will always remember James L. Brooks.

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