Christmas Traditions

Last night, I wrote about what Erika and I had done on Christmas Eve each year. Christmas Day was often even busier.

For our first year together, in 2013, Erika went to be with her family at her sister’s house in Albany. I can’t find any pictures from that year, they must be on another phone or something.

The next year, we started having our traditions together. After Christmas Eve at my sister’s house, we’d wake up and open presents with my daughter McKenna. Photos of that morning seem scarce, but that afternoon, we headed to Albany. Here’s Erika and her niece Violet on Christmas Day, 2014.

Erika and Violet, 2014

Violet had a game that she liked to play on people which was to tape their pajamas to the wall. Here’s Violet after she successfully taped her grandfather’s pajamas to the wall, along with her accomplice!

But later on in the day, I thought that Violet shouldn’t be the only one to get in on the fun. Here she is when someone, *cough cough* taped her pajamas, and her Auntie Erika’s shorts, to the wall.

But Violet isn’t someone to just take these tricks lying down. Violet is and was a big fan of all sharks. She’s a bit of an expert on sharks. I’d mentioned how afraid that I am of sharks, so she placed all of her sharks on my toothbrush! So scary!

And here is Ol’ Blue Eyes on Christmas Day in 2015, in Albany:

And another with Violet in 2015.

Erika in 2016, with the prankster Violet:

She’s a prankster, because the sharks made a very scary return! I’ll let you guess whose side of the bed that these are all carefully placed on.

And the dashing couple, Christmas 2016.

Christmas in 2017 started a few days early, on Wednesday, December 20th, when Erika got what she often said was the best present she ever got. She had often said that as far back as being a teenager, she’d wanted a gray and white tiger cat and to name him Grendel. Then this little guy arrived:

These two quickly became inseparable and Grendel learned to claim his place on Erika:

She and I didn’t go to Albany that year and instead went for a walk around the lake at Lincoln Woods Park. One of Erika’s favorite activities that she called “Winter Walking.”

A few days later, we rented an AirBnB in Portsmouth, NH, which was a bit of an adventure. In spite of the outdoor temperatures being in single digits, the house had limited heat and the door didn’t lock or close tightly. We still made the best of it.

In 2018, we also stayed home. Whenever I gave Erika a gift that she really liked, I could always tell just by the look on her face when she first saw it. Like this one:

And because you can’t really see what it is just yet, here is what she’s so excited about:

Yep, she really had a thing for sloths. Loved ’em! I think there are still 10 to a dozen sloth things in the house from four stuffed ones, to a coffee mug, pajamas, socks and who knows what else. But she loved that one!

And we also did more “Winter Walking” at Lincoln Woods Park later in the day too.

And then one year ago today. Christmas Day, 2019, without knowing it’d be our last one together.

Did I mention that she liked sloths?

No, I mean she *really liked sloths.

Even Grendel would need to learn to like sloths too.

She also got this artwork with two of her favorite cats, the Russian boys, Yukos and Tolstoy.

I think she got a little misty-eyed as she stared at it for a couple minutes.

And this is also when she got her second Bruins jersey. Her first one was way back in 2014 when she got a Zdeno Chara jersey for her birthday. On this Christmas, she got a Jaro Halak jersey. I often joked that she might be the only person in the world whose last name isn’t Halak to have one of these. And if that first name sounds familiar, it should! We named our dog after him!

A jersey that she proudly wore while watching the next Bruins game two days later.

But a Christmas Day wouldn’t be complete without the tradition that we started together, Winter Walking, this time just around the neighborhood.

For this year 2020, I’d planned to keep doing the Winter Walking tradition, in hopes of taking Jaro for a walk around Lincoln Woods, but the driving rain stopped us from doing that. So instead I’ll just conclude with a picture of the day that Erika and I took Jaro for a walk to Rome Point.


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