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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Crying on the bus, catching a train.

I was caught off guard this morning when I started to cry on the bus. I was looking out the window at the snow, thinking about Christmas and suddenly I was crying. I couldn’t tell if I’m just classicly overtired, getting sick, having a bad period or what, but there I was at a window seat on the 136 crying.

Last night my sister and I were making Christmas plans. Would Christmas dinner be on Christmas Eve or Christmas Eve Eve. I was asked to check the train schedule, since family gatherings downstate depend on Amtrak availability more than anything. That was when I realized that I wouldn’t be spending my whole glorious four day weekend with my sister and her family.

Her husband doesn’t have a four day weekend, first of all. And second of all, our family tradition is that Christmas Morning is with immediate family, Christmas Eve is with extended family. Oh, right. Now that Henry is a walking, talking nearly two year old, they get to have Christmas morning to the three of them.

I think my crying was more about a general holiday homesickness I’ve had this winter. Until my Grandparents retired to Texas, our Thanksgiving and Christmases ran like clockwork. Now my parents are the grandparents, none of the kids live in the same town, and (oh yeah) I’m Jewish.

I did not anticipate missing Christmas. In fact, I relish not having the stress or pressure of Christmas. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss Christmas. My grandpa embarassing us all by saying, “Ho, ho ho, Merry Christmas” and hanging mistletoe between the kitchen and dining room. We were so kiss avoidance that if you asked me to get an extra fork from the kitchen, I would go up the front staircase, run down the hall, come down the back staircase, get the fork, run back upstairs, through the hall, come back down the front stairs and pass the fork off.

The best Christmas present ever was the year we gave Grandpa a penny candy machine. Each of us, there are five in my immediate family, wrapped a roll of pennies to him in a different box. Large and small. By the third roll of pennies he hollared, “What’s the damn joke?” But he kept the gumball machine on his desk, stocked with black licorice jelly beans (gross!), until he died in 2001.

But my parents have taken on the role of grandparents quite well, like fish to water. In 25 years, I have no doubt that Henry will be an active part of Web 18.0. He’ll be thinking into his telewriter, “Where did Gimpa ever get that hat he wears every year?” He’ll call Nonny and ask the proportions for making Christmas Mix (or as I like to call it, Secular WInter Mix) and giving it to his family. M&Ms, raisins, and peanuts for everyone!

And eventually, in addition to my traveling downstate for Christmas, my family will come up to Chicago for one night of Chanuka. My kids will stay up all night with their cousin Henry. They’ll lie on the floor, bellies full of latkes and everyone will be snacking on Chanukah Mix. Made from M&Ms, raisins and peanuts.

I’m feeling much better already and it has just been 12 hours. I’m going to blame it on being overtired and hormonal. I’m excited that the Jones/DeVivo clan is busy making new traditions.

Latkes for Chanukah, Roast Beast for Christmas, and Secular WIntery Mix from Thanksgiving till New Year’s Eve.

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