Tales From A Hungry Life

December 22, 2015

Christmas Joy

by Maria Schulz

Reminds me of shopping on Bell Blvd

Reminds me of shopping on Bell Blvd

There are only 3 days left to shop, wrap, bake, clean, and cook for Christmas day. In some ways, I’m way ahead of myself when compared to years gone by, and in other ways…well, let’s just say I don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of getting finished.

However, I have vowed not to FREAK OUT over any of it. Instead, I’m sitting here remembering the many Christmas Pasts that I’ve enjoyed and gleefully anticipating this Christmas day. Here are some of the memories that are putting a smile on my face today.

Two grandmothers are better than one

Two grandmothers are better than one

  1. Christmas, 1969: we celebrated in our old row house that would have comfortably fit a family of 4; we were a family of 9. We lived on top of each other, but we still had another 30 people come over to celebrate with us. My grandparents were there, and so were my aunts, uncles, and cousins. A rumor was going around that Grandpa had met Santa and the scoop was we were all on the good list. I got my Malibu Barbies! It was a very good year.
  2. Christmas, 1972: At 4 a.m. that morning, my older brothers woke Paul, Joe, Chris and me up and led us out to what looked like a room filled with toys and said: Santa came! Paul tore open his gift (a GI Joe commander RV) and flashed the giant flood light on the top of it around the room while everyone laughed and enjoyed their treasures. My father must have had a very good year, because on this first Christmas in our new home, we each got 2 gifts. I got a Drowsy doll and a Busy Hands Barbie and remarked to my mother that Santa had the same handwriting as her. I was not yet old enough to see the connection or be snarky about it. Good times.charlie brown and linus
  3. Christmas, 1974: my grandmother and grandfather gave Chris and me our gifts: Chris got a bobble-head dog and I got a small pink doll dresser. We looked at each other and said: these are the GREATEST GIFTS EVER! My grandparents were delighted. I can still see them laughing and smiling now.
  4. Christmas, 1978: I went Christmas caroling with the Folk Group to a local children’s hospital. While we sang “Sleigh Bells Ring, Are You Listening?” we heard a loud thud and all turned in unison as we sang, watching as Ms. McGrath dragged our fellow caroler, Kim, off the stage. The sight of so many sick kids had gotten her so upset that she went down like a felled Christmas tree. We just kept singing.
  5. Christmas 1979: my older brothers declared that this would be the year they spent Christmas with their girlfriends, so Paul, Joe, Chris and I were left behind with two parents who were sad to lose their eldest children to adulthood. My parents weren’t happy that Christmas, but I got my very first Blondie record from Jude, so how could I be unhappy?

    Great Christmas gift

    Great Christmas gift

  6. Christmas 1982: my favorite English teacher and his wife gave me a poinsettia plant and I gave them a cookie platter. But the best gift of all was that they came over to exchange gifts, since he was on sabbatical that year.
  7. Christmas 1987: Gary and I are together! He gave me a ruby ring and I gave him a new-fangled CD player. He was the first kid on the block to have one!
  8. Christmas 1989: Gary gave me a package to open on Christmas Eve and my Uncle Sal and Grandmother got so excited: they thought we were about to get engaged. They were disappointed, but I loved my ankle bracelet.

    Our tree was a little smaller

    Our tree was a little smaller

  9. Christmas 1992: our first Christmas as a married couple. Our apartment was decorated with care, in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.
  10. Christmas 1997: Our first daughter joins the party! We get to buy dolls and toys again. Whooo-hooo!

    Malibu Barbies!

    Malibu Barbies!

  11. Christmas 2000: Our second daughter is in the house! More toys! More dolls! Barbie rules.
  12. Christmas 2006: the great Cher doll hunt is on! Where can I find that Bratz computer? Will Santa know how to find us in our new house?

    Santa! You found us!

    Santa! You found us!

  13. Christmas 2009: no one believes in Santa anymore. Oh well. I was tired of eating carrots and cookies late at night anyway
  14. Christmas 2013: two teenagers. No Barbies. We had fun anyway
  15. Christmas 2015: our baby is home from college. Our other baby isn’t at volleyball. We are all home and together. It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas!


Santa’s Sleigh Cocktail

Food Network Sandra Lee Santas Sleigh Cocktail

Food Network Sandra Lee Santas Sleigh Cocktail

Here’s to good old Santa! This drink looks easy to make, and the reviewers said it was delicious. One reviewer substituted Amaretto with Peppermint Schnapps and used crushed candy canes to rim the glasses. Use non-alcoholic eggnog if you so desire. However you choose to make it, enjoy!

So, Hungry Lifers: what are your favorite Christmas years and memories? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks, and Merry Christmas!



  1. Ah Maria, I love that you remember all that. They are such special memories. The ankle bracelet made me laugh out loud. You just made me think of something that made me fill up. My grandmother passed away when I was 9, so I think I was 7 when I had the best Christmas as a kid. My grandfather built me a three story Barbie house. My grandmother made all the curtains, bedspreads and cushions for the wicker furniture. It had a leopard theme. It was beautiful. When I was 20 and my mother had to sell her house , it had to go. There was no room in her apartment. I felt bad about that knowing all the hard work that went into it. Too bad we didn’t know each other because your Barbies would’ve loved it! They would’ve laughed so much lounging on the leopard settee.
    Big Christmas’ were always so much fun back then. I love Christmas memories. merry Christmas, my friend!

    Comment by Suzanne — December 22, 2015 @ 8:30 am | Reply

    • Oh man. We would’ve had the best time on that leopard lounge! Thank you for sharing that wonderful story. We were lucky to have our grandmothers! Merry Christmas to you too.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — December 22, 2015 @ 11:12 am | Reply

  2. You sure this drink won’t just slay Santa? Merry Christmas, Maria!

    Comment by doreenmoran — December 22, 2015 @ 10:31 am | Reply

  3. What a gift, Maria! I love your memories. I can picture them so clearly (probably even more so because of your book!). On to the next phase several years down the road: grandchildren, when perhaps the hunt for dolls at Christmas will resume! Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year fill with family, love and much silliness!

    Comment by wordimprovisor177 — December 22, 2015 @ 12:03 pm | Reply

    • Oh my…now you’re scaring me Darlene! Actually I hope I’m the fun Nonnie that everyone can’t wait to see. Merry Christmas to you, Mr.Artie Dog, and Los Gatos!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — December 22, 2015 @ 4:33 pm | Reply

  4. Hey, I never said I wanted the barbies to stop. They’d look cool at college- especially that Cher doll. Anyways, I’m glad I’m home to celebrate. Now you just need to help me pack everything frantically before Christmas Eve. Thanks for sharing more of your stories with us, mom. Love you!

    Comment by Maddie — December 22, 2015 @ 12:05 pm | Reply

  5. As one gets older it is harder to see all those Christmas celebrations apart, they meld into one great memory changing from year to year as some are forgotten and some are remembered. But as I think now the best part of Christmas was when my brother and I would get up in the middle of the night and open our presents before anyone but us were awake. A nice sharing. He was a pain in the butt but (no pun intended) I miss him. Somehow being older and without him there is a hole in my Christmas. I remember all the noise, the laughs, the shouts from all of those who are no longer here. Most of all I miss my kids making a mess and their cousins breaking their toys. I miss Johnny and Nell (she was crazy but Sarita’s sister after all). Most of all I miss the excitement of waiting for Santa Claus. I wanted to believe in Santa and held on to him for as long as I could. With all this I look forward to our Christmas Eve now when for a brief moment the family gets together, sons, daughter grandchildren and great-grandchild. For a very brief moment I forget what has gone by, except for the wish she would be here to share this glorious sharing moment with us. Then it all dissipates and we are on our individual paths once again.

    Comment by bglou — December 22, 2015 @ 3:00 pm | Reply

    • There is always a hole in our Christmas without Mom and Uncle Don, but look around you on Christmas Eve and remember that you are always loved no matter how far away we (or they) seem.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — December 22, 2015 @ 4:36 pm | Reply

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