‘Twas The Week Before Christmas….

T’was the week before Christmas

At Bonaparte Chateau

The crooked tree’s lights

Gave ethereal glow

 Some holiday stress was to be my condition

As I thought of my blog

Do I write of tradition?

 I’ll write of egg nog and traditions of past,

And wonderful memories that brought joy and did last

 So read on and be touched by my words and pic’s sights

And remember who comes in six more wondrous nights!

The crooked tree

Just in case your memory needs to be refreshed–the ethereal glow from the crooked tree! 

It’s so hard to think of anything to write about during this season of Christmas.  I started writing about my filthy gutter mouth and my obsession with the “f” word, but I would much rather wait until after Santa arrives for that.  After all, I don’t want coal in my stocking.

I'm getting  coal

Oh. That was LAST year. I think I’ve been pretty good this year!

Instead I will focus on Christmas memories past.  And mention of some traditions!


Me and Sissy under the tree

Here’s a goody from Christmas past. Me with the Jack-in-the-Box and my sister, Sissy.  I’m guessing my passion for plaid goes back to around 1958. Dig the tinsel!

My parents were crazed with Christmas. They always went overboard every year.  They would place the presents under the tree after we went to bed on Christmas Eve, then after midnight they would wake us up to tell us Santa arrived.

Ozone Park Black and white tree

My father was obsessed. OBSESSED with tinsel. He was so obsessed that he practically ruined decorating the tree for everyone.  The weird thing is, I GET it now.  The tinsel had to be just so.  It’s funny because I remember all of those ornaments–this pic is from the 1950’s!

It was a two doll Christmas. I must have been good that year.

I must have been a very good girl that year–1959. Santa brought me two dolls!  Who am I looking at? I’ll tell you who–nobody. My mother used to make me look to the side when taking photos so I would not look as cross-eyed as I really AM!

Now we know where my love of ironing started

Oh this is much better. My eye looks incredibly crossed!  Do we now know why I love to iron clothes so much.  It was ingrained at a young age.  No wonder I love the color red!

The house was chaotic—especially after the family grew to five kids. Wrapping paper thrown everywhere, screaming with happiness.  The kettle whistling just in time to have that last cup of tea before bed…it was fun….

Long Island. Year of the fake tree.

The calm before the storm. I guess my parents ended up with a fake tree for a few years–I have to say–it’s pretty fake looking but the tinsel is FABULOUS!

We had the Florida years…

Pixie Cut Christmas Florida 1981

Christmas. Florida. 1981. Twins 13 years apart. Me with a pixie cut and my brother Pete-the best birthday gift I ever received!

Mom florida christmas 1981

My poor mother, rest her soul.  She’s happily opening Christmas gifts.  I love her big hair!

After I became a parent, we had the New York City years.

Christmas 1983. Jake was two months.

With my little elf, Jake. Two months old and his first Christmas!

Christmas 1986. Florida

One of the few years that Roman sat for a pic with Santa.

Jake with Santa. 1988. Roman was sleeping

Macy’s Herald Square 1987.  Roman slept through this.

Paramus mall 1992

I drove over the bridge from Manhattan to Paramus Park Mall in Jersey to see Santa.  1992.  

Jake with Regis

Yes. I did. I dressed Jake up and walked over to the studio at Channel 7 to take a picture with Regis Philbin.  I wanted a memory of  my favorite morning show. Don’t judge! Jake doesn’t look too happy. ……

A fat ass  Christmas

My “fat ass” Christmas. I think it was baby weight from Oona… *yeah right*

A Skinny Ass Christmas NYC

My “skinny ass” Christmas. This is MUCH better.  I could cry looking at my ass. I remember that skirt well. Size 4. FOUR! Suede.  I need to go on a diet come January 1st!

Oona with a random NYC Santa 1991

Oona with a random Santa. I think this was at St. Ignatius or Good Shepherd.

Just in case jake doubts I'm his mom

Oh…and just in case Jake wonders if I really AM his mother…….

Then the New Jersey Years.

An American Girl Christmas

Oona during the “American Girl” years Christmas!  I actually still have that hat. I loved it so much on her that I hoarded it!

American Girl Christmas continues

More “American Girl” This was the Samantha Christmas!

Fenway Christmas

Jake–ever the Red Sox fan–and the great Fenway pop up book.   More plaid pajama bottoms!

Giants Christmas

Roman and the Giants Christmas. You know, I really like the tree we had that year.  We went to a tree farm to cut our own tree and I fell into a ditch. I was seriously cut up. It was the first and last time we cut our own tree!

Uncle Pete in an early morning daze

My brother Pete in the background. Dazed. Just. Dazed!

Now we have the Pennsylvania years and I look forward to Christmas Eve when the kids get home!

Tree 2014

Welcome to the Pennsylvania years.  This was our tree last year. It wasn’t crooked until it fell. It was just too heavy!

Christmas at brigade

Roman, Chippy, Oona and Jake–before we moved from Wayne to Phoenixville.  Chippy looks bewildered!

I’ve made traditions for my own family over the years.  One was a birthday cake for baby Jesus. Yes.  Me, the woman who is against Hipster Jesus being in any part of politics because church and state need to be separate, actually has a spiritual side. Part of our Christmas dessert was the cake…among other things….

I really really got into baking for Christmas because my mother just never did.  All of her baking was done from a box or from the local bakery.  I couldn’t understand why she never baked from scratch because she really was an excellent cook.  But to me, it ain’t the holiday season if I’m not in the kitchen baking all those goodies from scratch!

Bouche de Noel

I’ll start on 2015 Buche de Noel on Monday!  


The biscotti is all done and sealed away for Christmas!

I remember fondly the year I made a great number of shepherd’s costumes for the Christmas Pageant at the boy’s school—and the cool thing is they are probably still being used!

Roman in christmas pageant

Roman looking angelic at the Christmas pageant.  Jake was a shepherd but I can’t find the pictures….

Church Christmas Pageant

It isn’t a bona fide Christmas pageant without the Angels. Check out the scoreboard in the background! I love Catholic school!

Another tradition is the serving of “Martha Stewart Eggnog“.  (click for recipe). Over the years, I’ve adjusted to add more booze than her recipe calls for.  I love the fact that she doesn’t add cinnamon either!  I also use cheap booze too. Cheap. Expensive. They all have the same effect—which is to make me forget about any issues I may be festering over!

Martha stewart eggnog booze

I add a bit more than Martha calls for…but this makes for a delicious Christmas beverage….

Martha Stewart eggnog base aging

The eggnog base is “ageing” in the fridge.  Egg yolks, sugar, milk and cream have been added to the booze.  Raw eggs you say? The alcohol kills any germs. Trust me!  This is gonna be a great batch!  I serve it in a huge punch bowl and get out the good china cups!

When we lived in Pennington, NJ, the kids and I would drive to the border of Trenton and Hamilton make our annual visit to “Martel’s Christmas Wonderland”

I wonder if I can get Bonaparte to drive me and Chippy to New Jersey to visit Martel’s tomorrow!

A visual delight for children and adults of all ages. There is nothing—and I mean nothing like this.  Sometimes we would visit this illuminated landmark more than once a season.  I honestly wish I lived across the street from the Martel family.

Mr. Martells hamilton the best christmas house ever

Martel’s Wonderland. It gets better every year…

Roman Spielberg at Mr. Martells

Roman filmed one of our trips to Martel’s….

Oona at Martels

Oona..dazed at Roman’s film directing.


Then there is the telling not of Mary and Joseph’s trek for the birth of Jesus, but the telling of the “Church” story:

St. Alphonsus

St. Alphonsus. The cutest little church ever.   

It was our first Christmas in New Jersey.  My father had passed away and my mother was visiting as was my youngest brother.  We attended Mass early Christmas Eve so we could get home and have a nice dinner and get the kids to bed early.  The church, St. Alphonsus, in Hopewell, was very small and we took up an entire side pew.  From the corner of my eye, I could see Roman, who was seven years old, whisper something to my brother, Pete.  Pete started laughing uncontrollably. During Mass.  Pete whispered something to my mother who almost had a heart attack. She did NOT laugh but looked incredibly surprised.

 I motioned for Roman to come over to me.  I asked him what he said to Pete.

 This time Roman did NOT whisper.  He said in a loud voice: ” I told Pete that I ‘m so excited about Santa Claus coming to bring presents  tonight that I got a boner!”

 I started laughing. Out loud.  Father Ralph stood at the pulpit and announced to the congregation:  “Well, it looks like the Urbanski family is going to have a fun Christmas!”

 The telling of that story, much to Roman’s chagrin, has been recited every Christmas since. These days usually after a few egg nogs!

It is then, when I bring out the greatest short story of all time. “The Haki Sack”. Roman wrote this when he was in third grade and we all get a kick out of it!  My Roman. He’s such a good sport!

The best thing about this story was that Roman added a list of all the things he would get us for Christmas when he became a millionaire. I’m getting a Mercedes.  Unfortunately the list has been misplaced. I hope that damned elf on the shelf didn’t take off with it!

Traditions change and they evolve—but they are still a part of each family’s festivities.   Take a moment and think about your traditions and your memories. Time may be fleeting but memories aren’t.

Merry christmas

So have lots of fun making new traditions and fun memories!  XOXOXOXOXO!!!!

Remember when the movie “Home Alone” came out? I took Jake and his best friend, Kevin to see it in a movie theatre in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.  It was one of the most touching and funny holiday movies ever.  Here’s the Divine Miss M with some memories from Home Alone 2!!!




About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
This entry was posted in American Girl Dolls, Christmas, Martha Stewart Eggnog, Memories, NJ, Pictures with Santa, Retro Christmas Gifts, Santa. Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to ‘Twas The Week Before Christmas….

  1. Tejaswi says:

    That’s so funny, Cath… I was just telling another blogger friend about it. X’mas is not so important in this part of the world. But my daughter knew nothing else from the very beginning.. she is going to be 6 in Jan.. but she still believes in Santa.. it is funny.. We admonish her by telling her that if she is naughty Santa’s Elf, who is always watching, will report it and she will get coal in her stocking hahaha.. and it breaks my heart… but she really believes it!!! hahaha..
    Maybe some day, when she is older, she will write about how her old man was obsessed with tinsel hahaha.. and maybe show pathetic pics of trees festooned and decorated with shiny lights and all that. Like I said, it would be really weird… no one really celebrates it over here.. But I hope my daughter will remember me as fondly as you do your dad.. 🙂

    (And one last nastiness in the end.. why do Americans have such horrible taste in booze??? and even that word.. booze?? hardly the term you should use for Usquebaugh – the water of life… ha!! Never mind.. being on the Continent still does not change your tastes.. hmphh!! you stand admonished.. Try Glen Morangie.. or if you prefer not to have Singles.. then try Ballantine’s…. hehehe)

    • Catherine says:

      Hey Tej! You see, my parents were never ridden with guilt whenever the sentence “Santa is watching you” was muttered. I think it was because there were too many kids to deal with–lol. But lets talk “booze”–you hate the word. Hmmmm…I think this could be a future blog post. I like the term “booze” because it sounds like what it is. It gets you plastered. “Cocktail”–the term is far more dignified–that word means two drinks at best. Then there’s “liquor”..which is basically the same as booze but more refined…….I need to stop rambling! Enjoy the weekend!!! And have a great ChristmasXOXOXO!!!

  2. Leslie Preston says:

    Great memories with great pictures! Thanks for sharing! The retelling of the “boner” story each Christmas is the greatest! (Your son is a good sport!)

    • Catherine says:

      Oh Leslie. He’s definitely a good sport to have to listen to that story every year–and the fact I wrote about it…well…I’m sure I’m going to get feedback! XOXOXO!!!

  3. Jane Billman says:

    My maiden name is Martel so I was loving the decorated house !!!! Did your parents ever ” save” the tinsel – I am thinking I had the cheapest parents ever we would take it off the tree and lay it out straight on newspaper and wrap it up to use next year…… Tinsel placement was always done precisely by the parents…..time for some Perry Como Christmas music fa la la la la. XOX Jane

    • Catherine says:

      Jane! OMG Is there any chance that you could be related to the infamous Mr. Martel????? If so, you are one lucky lady!!! I’m laughing here at the “saving” of the tinsel. No. My dad was so obsessed that he would never even think of saving tinsel..it would get crunchy after a while. I think it’s hysterical that your parents saved it!!! Oh. Perry Como–he was so smooth!! Merry Christmas! XOXOXO!!!

  4. Arpita says:

    Such a lovely post! I loved the poetry too! It was so wonderful going down memory lane with you! You have such a beautiful family! Merry Christmas!! XOXO

  5. Miss Bougie says:

    Thanks for sharing your memories. Such lovely words.
    I only have very few memories of Christmas when I was young, as my parents were moving all the time and we were living in Africa and the Middle East. One Christmas I remember spending with my Grandparents which was recorded on film, so that’s the most vivid memory I have. I made sure my kids will have a reminder as I filmed them every year opening their presents when they were kids.

    • Catherine says:

      Bri–THAT is the greatest idea–to film the kids opening their gifts. You made my eyes mist. I swear. Hold on while I get a tissue. OK. I only wish I had done that! But on the flip side–just look how lucky you were to be living in the Middle East and Africa. I’m sure you have some great memories of those places–and you are fortunate because times have changed those areas into places we can no longer visit as tourists. Have a great, great Christmas. I’m enjoying your Paris pics! XOXOXOXO!!!

      • Miss Bougie says:

        Yes, Middle East is out, that’s for sure. I lived, among other countries, in Lebanon for quite some time. We were actually evacuated by our Embassy in 1968, due to the 6-day war. I went to school there and have many fond memories. Lovely beaches, food to die for – my cooking has actually quite a middle eastern flair to it – and such lovely, lovely people. It’ s such a shame that all that has gone down the drain. But living in those countries you forget about Christmas as it is not celebrated there. You don’t have that vibe and anticipation as a child.
        I am happy you like my pics. I thought about you when I posted the last batch around Place Dauphine and Ile de la Cité! 😉 Joyeux Noël. Xx

      • Catherine says:

        I miss Place Dauphine–it’s my favorite spot in Paris. Our time in Theoule is set for next year. He doesn’t want to go to Paris yet so your pics are greatly appreciated! Joyeux Noel my good friend! XOXOXOXOXO!

  6. calensariel says:

    So now I’m TOTALLY homesick for Ohio. I swear we have the equivalent of everyone of those pictures, too. Except dad was into slides. We need to get them put on a dvd because they’re fading fast. I think that’s why I love that whole scene in Christmas Vacation where Chevy Chase is sitting in the attack watching hoe movies. It’s the whole projector experience. And sitting here reading your blog I just realized what was wrong with our tree this year. We forgot to put the tinsel on! Oh well. Better late than never. Hell! I’m still put holiday decorations out!

    Loved the post, Catherine. Brought make so many memories of my own. {{{Catherine}}}

    • Catherine says:

      Catherine–I’m sorry you got homesick!! LOL–#genericchristmasphotosfromthefiftiesandsixties. Right??? This is what’s weird—and places us in the thinking alike mode. THAT SCENE FROM CHRISTMAS VACATION IS MY FAVORITE. I swear–the first time I saw that movie and Chevy Chase was dressed in old women’s clothing and watching those slides, I cried–and I still choke up when I see the movie. It’s incredible. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! XOXOXOXO. Have a wonderful Christmas–wherever you may be because your heart will be in Ohio!

  7. NJ says:

    Aww.. that is such a heart-warming walk down memory lane 🙂 Thanks for the share 🙂 It sure made me feel a lot better. Maybe I’ll walk down memory lane by going through some old Christmas pictures myself. Cheers!
    Wishing you, your family and friends a Merry Christmas (I know, way in advance but what the heck 😉 )

  8. I love this post Catherine! An amazing look back! thanks so much for sharing these memories! Wow a picture with Regis! I love your funny photos too!!! A very heart warming and sometimes hilarious holiday post! 🙂

    • Catherine says:

      Thanks Lynn! Yeah. Regis. Can you believe it? That photo was the beginning of my life as a helicopter mom. I returned to work shortly after that pic was taken and I watched Regis every morning so I wanted to journalize all my memories with my first born. …by the third baby, I wasn’t as ambitious! LOL. Have a great, great Christmas!! XOXOXO!

  9. Deb says:

    Oh my goodness so many wonderful memories, you have had a rich, full life so far and I wish you many more memories to come! I do have one question…are you sure you didn’t ask Chippy to look off to his right because his eyes were too crossed?? Another family tradition…HA!! We too did tinsel all over our trees…I used to love to put it on and yes it did have to be perfect!! Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas to you and all of your family!!! 🙂

    • Catherine says:

      LOL!! I’m going to have to inspect Chippy’s eyes a bit better. After all, with being cross-eyed, you double your pleasure! The tinsel. I’m finding out more and more people remember tinseled trees than not. In fact, my sibs and I had an all-day IM session yesterday about tinsel and those fiber-glass haired angel tree toppers!! XOXOX. Have a great Christmas!

  10. spearfruit says:

    Wonderful pictures – especially the ass pictures! LOL. Seriously I love tinsel also, it brings back many great memories. I actually have a post next week about a tinsel tree that my family had when I was a child. Joyful Christmas to you my dear, I enjoyed reading this post very much. 🙂

    • Catherine says:

      Spear. The ass pics! I swear if my ass got any larger, it would have been a holding platter for all that tinsel! XOXOXO!!! I want to read about your tinsel–it IS next week as I write this. Love to you for a great and happy Christmas! XOXOXO!

  11. BunKaryudo says:

    It’s always fun reminiscing about happy times past. I think it’s great that you have so many wonderful traditions to look back on. (I especially agree with any tradition that involves the baking of cakes.) I think you’re right, though, that things should evolve as circumstances change.

    By the way, if you want that Mercedes, I really think you have to find Roman’s list again.

    • Catherine says:

      Merry Christmas Bun. Oh. I AM searching for Roman’s list–and when I DO get my Mercedes, perhaps you and I can go on a ride that is driven by your father-in-law! XOXOXO!!!

      • BunKaryudo says:

        That would be the experience of a lifetime (perhaps the final experience)!

        Merry Christmas to you too, Catherine. I hope you have a wonderful time. 🙂

  12. So enjoyed being taken merrily down memory lane with you!! Wonderful stories and photographs,,,a lot of my early Christmas memories are in slides lost forever to me…
    But, I too have a picture of my ‘arse’ floating around somewhere!! lol
    Merry Christmas to you and yours GF ❤️🎄

  13. LosiLosLoco says:

    Oh my goodness! Thank God that you posted in the Cafe because you just made my life with your content. Mhh! Love the fact that you don’t hold back 😉 That’s a charming trait. Can’t wait to read more from you!

    • Catherine says:

      Thank you Pineapple! BTW, I hope it’s ok to call you “pineapple”..that was actually a term of endearment that my dad used to use when we were kids. He would call us pineapples! XOXOXO!!

  14. Gerry Charb says:

    Happy New Year! All the best for 2016. Keep up the good work.

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