A Place in Time, A Place to Come
Originally Written: November 30, 2018
Edited: January 29, 2019 - February 26, 2019
Sitting on the couch, I looked out the window. White flakes of snow were falling down covering the town in a thick blanket of snow. The cars were warming up, brushing the snow off the windows, and the house was chilling with each little blow. My mom and my aunt scurried around, trying to get my sisters and cousins ready for the show. Tying bows in their hair and brushing it down, putting on dresses and tights with big boots.
My dad and uncles were messing with their ties, making jokes about what to expect and ignoring the ladies’ requests. We were all getting antsy as the little kids fussed, while trying to get ready for the big night. I sat on the brown couch, looking around at my family, in a soft black dress and a big red bow. I was thinking about the cookies and the lemonade I’d have, “if we ever get out of this house,” I thought.
My grandparents were in the kitchen getting plates of cookies and drinks ready, and my three older cousins, John, Sawyer and Andy, finally came out ready to go. My cousin Xavier and I were ready so we went with my aunt Julie and uncle Caleb. We walked out of the cottage and into the snow.
The air was cold, below 0 degrees, but the snow was soft when it fell on my nose. My aunt was holding cookies and chocolate bars; my uncle was holding cases of drinks. Xavier held his iPad and I held a bag of presents. We walked on the snow-covered pathways and hopped into the car, thankful it had been turned on so that we could be warm.
The night got darker as we pulled out of the driveway, looking back into the house and seeing the silhouettes of the others getting ready to leave. The car wiped the snow off of its windows, and we set out onto the road. Driving down the hills, the snow fell even harder. We watched the temperature drop and the sun go down, welcoming the bright stars of Houghton. As we went down a curvy hill, the bright glow of the canal welcomed us. The town was two, Houghton and Hancock, with a river running right through the middle. We were in Houghton but as we drove down, the bright lights of Hancock shone brightly into the sky.
It was nearly 5:00, yet almost dark, as we finally reached a street full of cars. We parked in the driveway and carefully got out of the car and into the snow. My uncle picked up Xavier and carried him to the porch, while I carefully stepped in the snow, trying not to get my tights freezing cold. I helped my aunt carry the presents, and as we stood at the front door, we could hear the noise of people laughing and talking inside, and we were excited to go in.
We walked into the house and a blanket of warmth enveloped us as we set our coats by the stairs and our boots by the door, put down the presents and walked into the next room\. Into the kitchen we went and we saw all the bright faces of our family members and friends. “Oh you’re here, welcome!” my aunt Penelope said, greeting us, taking the cookies from my aunt Julie and giving us hugs.
Everyone welcomed us and I saw my three second cousins, Aria, Amanda and Bailey, our family friends Lucy and Marcus, my great aunt and uncle Penelope and Ben, second cousins Daniel and Brody, and then my parents, sisters, cousins and grandparents all came in, too. Suddenly the room got louder as people said hello and started to talk, and it was such a small room that I didn’t know how we all fit.
The house was filled with the scent of cookies – sugar, snicker doodle and chocolate chip! Punch and mac and cheese were on the counter, cheese and meat platters were scattered about the room, and Xavier and I grabbed a plate and filled up. I grabbed cheese, fruit and mac and cheese, then a plateful of cookies that looked very scrumptious. We grabbed the frosted ones and a gingerbread, too.
Lila, Ali, Kasey and Sophie, my cousin and sisters, all grabbed food as well and followed us into the basement. The steps were old and rickety, and they creaked as we went down them. The basement had an eerie lighting but a beautiful glow. They all sat down as I looked around and saw a mini Christmas tree that shone brightly in the corner with presents underneath. An old, dusty piano was in one corner with music ready to go, and a soft gray couch was on one wall with chairs placed around it.
Downstairs is always a dimmed brightness, the carpet old, the couch old, but the Christmas tree bright and piled high with presents. I sat down and started to eat the cookies. The sweetness and peppermint taste filled my mouth and I thought, “These are the best cookies we’ve ever made.”
I went upstairs to get some more cookies and stopped at the top of the stairs to look around. Everyone was here: my aunt from Tennessee, all my cousins from downstate Michigan, us from Wauwatosa, some from Green Bay and of course a bunch from around here. This was one of the only times everyone in our family could be here due to work and all those life things, so I was grateful for that. I went back downstairs and my cousins and I played board games, ate and rehearsed our show until finally around 7:30, when everyone filed downstairs.
A Christmas show was our tradition. All the families and groups came up with unique songs, lyrics and dances to present here tonight. It was Christmas Eve, and we were all ready. My three cousins and aunt went first, CiCi, Aria, Bailey and Amanda. They took a bunch of songs and changed the lyrics. They did “My Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” and “The Grinch,” and the most liked, “You Better Watch Out,” but they changed all the words to relate to us and inside jokes we have in our family. They had done makeup and had some props for “The Grinch.”
My aunt’s face was a bright green and she scared the little kids. They were joyfully acting, and the blare of their voices and the music filled the air. I sat on the soft ground, the carpeting that is, and noticed it was very old but somehow still so soft.
Next my aunt Julie, uncle Caleb and their kids Xavier and Lila started to sing a bunch of Christmas songs all conjoined together and they added all of our names into the lyrics, such as “The First JOEl,” as in “The First Noel,” for my cousin Joe. They added everyone's names to the songs, and when they were done it was our turn.
I placed antlers on my head and stood in the center of the floor. Everyone was staring and the music started to play. It was soft and slow, but soon became louder, faster and more energetic. My mom, dad and I all started to dance to the song “All I Want for Christmas is You!” Later on, my sisters came running out in sparkly Santa hats, joining in on the chorus of the song. Then we kids all sang a bunch of Christmas songs and we also changed some lyrics to big family jokes and funny moments that have happened. We were all laughing and singing along until it came to our song tradition, “The Little Drummer Boy.”
My aunt Penelope, in her sparkly black dress, delicately sat on the bench in front of the piano. She opened the book and started to play the soft tune of the song. I can tell you all of the kids pretend they hate this song and the tradition with it, but we all sing along and secretly love it. The lightness of the notes filled the air as we all started to sing. None of us were on key and it came out like squeaks, but we were all happy and singing along together. As the song wrapped up, Paula added a little spin to the last notes and ended with a harsh one, vibrating the whole room. We all looked around and smiled. For a split second it was completely quiet and all I could think was, “How lucky I am to be here.” Then the room erupted into noise once again and people began to grab presents and more food, for it was time to start the gift exchange.
Everyone gathered around and brought their gifts to the carpet. We all picked numbers – I got 6 – and then we began. Each person picked a present, opened it, and the exchange continued. Presents were stolen from one another, laughed at and auctioned off. It was a lot of fun and everyone was enjoying it. Eventually everyone had a gift. I remember one year having a coloring book and some other sort of toy to play with. We then watched Christmas home movies of the times all our parents were younger and it was their childhood Christmas, as well as the years before us with silly songs we have all sung.
Soon it was time to go, so we grabbed some more cookies and piled our plates high, much to my aunt’s dismay. We grabbed all of our gifts and carried them out to the car while my parents picked up my younger sisters and carried them through the snow. They were just barely able to stay awake. We said goodbye to everyone and wished them a Merry Christmas; we knew we would see them probably sometime next week, but this goodbye was special. My cousin Xavier and I picked up our bags and started out the house. The cool wind greeted us and a couple snowflakes landed on my nose.
The snow was starting to pick up as the forecasters had predicted, and a harsh snowy wind blew across my body. I shivered and pulled my scarf tighter around my face and neck. I pulled Xavier closer so he wouldn't slip and we walked back to the car. I heard noise coming from nearby houses, their parties still going on, and the sound of the cars warming up and brushing off the snow.
As we started to drive back, huge snowflakes hit the car windows and chills filled the air. Xavier and I huddled under a blanket until we finally got back to Houghton. The snow was less harsh here but was still picking up. Snow piled high on the sides of streets and on roofs, covering blowups in people’s yards and making the trees look beautiful. As we drove up the hill, I turned my head to look out the window and saw the glistening canal becoming frozen and the big bridge shining brightly in the night. All the houses and buildings on the other side of the canal were decorated with colorful lights, and the bright snow reflected everywhere it landed.
Both cities were being covered with snow, and I knew when I woke up the next morning, nothing would be visible. We drove home and I thought about everything today. I had seen all of my cousins, aunt and uncles and listened to silly versions of Christmas songs, danced, talked, laughed and ate. We had a lot of fun and I started to think about next year. We won’t get to do all of this because the relatives who hosted us this year have kids who can’t make it next year, so they’re going down to see them. I suddenly felt very grateful for this day and very thankful we were all here together, all here laughing and talking and singing, all here for this very special Christmas.
Word Count: 2,004 words