Best Holiday Gifts To Give: Love, Laughter and Generosity by Andrea Buchanan Hello my name is Andrea and ever since I was a kid I could remember the smell of the freshly waxed wooden floors in my house in Mill Basin, New York and the beautiful crimson poinsettias my father put around the house. I always loved the way the way the kitchen smelled with the aroma of sweet baked pies and cakes, fresh seafood from the market and fresh sauce simmering in my father’s huge pots. The house in Mill Basin was beautiful and the snow and nativity scene added a picturesque scene that can reminded me of the perfect Christmas. My sister and I would always rummage through the candies to find our favorite pieces and used to load our pockets before anyone came to visit. My brother was always in the kitchen next to my Dad helping him shuck clams for the arriving guests and the smell of fresh lemons danced in the wind channel. The array of lights was a myriad of the traditional red, white, green and blue with the Nativity that provided the ambience of the genuine Christmas spirit. My father and mother loved to play their Christmas carols on phonograph and I always loved when Frank Sinatra sung “Have Yourself a Merry Christmas” and Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” made me feel so happy I would burst into laughter. I loved the way the vibrant scent of fresh pine would dominate the air in the living room and the Angel on top of the Christmas tree would almost touch the ceiling. The candy canes, the ornaments, the garland, wreaths and mistletoes were arranged with so much passion for Christmas our neighbors always wanted to spend the holiday at our house. The lights shimmered and the Christmas cards that we received filled a huge table with chestnuts, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, Hershey kisses, peppermints, Andes mints, brandy, cognac, wine, French raisin twisted bread infused with rum, crystal glasses, poinsettias and white and red candles. The cards that we received were inscribed with beautiful messages of love, care and generosity that made our hearts melt. My mother hand sewed beautiful doilies, tapestry and crochet that had “Noel” woven into the complex geometric patterns. She utilized every sacred recipe she inherited from her mother and aunts that you can tell the food was from various eras of time. The smell of her cheesecake had a very fragrant citrus smell because of the lemon zest she would use in her recipe. “Oh they were so decadent”. Her famous Shrimp salad should’ve been appropriately called “Gigantic Prawn Salad” because of the sheer size of the Shrimp she used, they were huge! The taste of the relish, rotini pasta, egg, mayonnaise, mustard and paprika made this salad a huge hit. I am definitely leaving out her hidden ingredients because she never revealed them.
My father and brother went out the week before and bought their favorite Florsheim shoes. Their â€˜shoesâ€™ were the biggest deal. My dad loved the Florsheim with the tassels and my brother loved the penny loafers because he would love to put two shiny pennies in the tiny pockets on each shoe. Their suits were fitted, tailored, finished, pressed and put in their respective garment bags. The girls, well we went to our seamstress who made our dresses for us and for years I wore the traditional red velour or white satin that I loved so much. Our family came from all over Brooklyn, New York and all over the East coast. We were blessed during the holiday season to have so many friends and family spend Christmas day with us. I never forgot what the real Christmas feels like and sometimes I find myself reminiscing many days about the music, the laughter, the sound of the forks and crystal clanking, Sinatra and carols sweetening our ears, the hugs, the stories, the food, the family, the friends, the best holiday gifts, and the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christmas is such a beautiful time of the year and I just wanted to share some of my memories with you. I wish you a Merry, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
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