Guest blog by J, BHD’s twin brother
I wrote this post for my brother to put on his blog on Christmas night. When this message appears, three of us (my brother, my wife, and me) will be visiting family and exploring the neighborhood where we grew up. Many of our family haven’t met my wife yet, as we were married in Italy and this is her first visit to this part of the United States.
We began our Christmas by awakening to the aromas of breakfast. We came downstairs and greeted my brother-in-law and his mother who were seated in the living room by the Christmas tree. They had been up for an hour and were waiting for us before having breakfast. We entered the kitchen and beheld a huge meal that my brother was ready to serve. Man, it reminded me of our Christmas mornings when we were kids. We had cialda (waffles), bacon, egg souffle, home-made bagels with lox and cream cheese, orange juice, coffee… wow, what a treat! I usually don’t have much for breakfast but a roll and coffee, so this breakfast was an extreme pleasure. Even my wife was impressed (and that’s saying something.)
After the huge brunch, we exchanged some gifts, but nothing much. Our family has long agreed not to exchange gifts among each other because we would all go broke. But my brother and I have always exchanged a little something, following a strict limit on how much we spend. My brother gave me a month-by-month calendar with photos on it that he took when I visited in August — of me, “the bad boy Harley-biker guy.” What a hoot! How did he have time to do that? “Non è nulla,” he says. (Ha!) I felt silly giving him a belt, but he seemed genuinely appreciative.
Then it was time to visit some of our great-nieces and great-nephews. After all, Christmas is for kids! My brother wanted to ride his Harley, but since my wife and I both were going and neither of us wanted to be tied by a bungie cord to the back of the bike, we opted to ride in his truck. Good thing we did, as the weather was lousy (cold, wet, icy, yucky).
We enjoyed seeing the younger ones. I took some of them outside to build a snowman and have a snowball fight, despite the rain. We had a ball! I got soaked. My wife got miffed (fa bene!) My brother and sister laughed and laughed and laughed. They never expected me to get all messy. (They forgot the days that I played football on many a muddy field).
My wife and I stayed at my sister’s house while my brother drove back home so he could prepare our Christmas dinner. (I’m glad we went to church on Christmas Eve, as my clothes were unpresentable after that snowball battle!) My niece dropped us off at his house by mid-afternoon. I changed clothes, but not into a suit. When I stay with my brother, I have to live under his “house rules” which included “No Suits In The House!” I put on a comfortable sweatshirt, jeans, and sneakers, much to my brother’s dismay (the sneakers, anyway). My wife couldn’t figure out what was going on about how I was dressed. I had to explain it later. (She still didn’t get it.)
We held hands while my brother-in-law said grace. That was sweet. My brother said a special prayer for his friend who died. He remains sad, but he’s okay.
My brother had to hold back the food until we were seated… like he did at breakfast… to keep certain people from eating before all were seated. (I shan’t say more, but I know that the eating habits of a certain visitor drives my brother insane.)
The dinner was wonderful, plentiful, and delicious. We laughed, shared stories, and enjoyed a relaxing and delightful meal. It was odd, in a way, not to have children running around, or to have rolls tossed around the table. I missed having dinner with 50 people, but then again, I could hold a conversation and have time to translate the American idioms for my wife. All was good.
After dinner, my brother took my wife and me on a tour to see the Christmas lights in our old neighborhood, and to visit a woman who babysat for us when we were kids. That was fun. We sang carols (as we missed going caroling with our old high school crowd since that gathering was canceled due to the snow, and my flight was delayed two days).
Overall, I had a wonderful Christmas Day. I enjoyed watching my brother do “his thing” — from cooking and serving meals, to ensuring that everyone was cared for. How he relates to our family, friends, and his partner and mother-in-law. Greeting neighbors with a friendly wave and a smile is his trademark. He had a table overflowing with cookies and treats that his “crew” (seniors for whom he cares) made for him.
What a joyful day. This is what I wanted to show my wife about Christmas, and our family. I am basking in the warmth of love for my big ‘bro.
Happy Christmas, Brother! I love you!