Some kids look forward to the food, for others it’s the gifts. For me, it was the rush I got when my mother or grandmother loaded me into the car and said that we were getting me a new outfit. I remember hiding in the racks of dresses at the department as I put my hands all over the satin, the big bows of the 90s totally conducive to my 9-year-old aesthetic.
Thanksgiving dresses didn’t have to be that fancy as I remember wearing the drop waist style with black patent mary janes and maybe some new tights, but Christmas attire was usually on the more ornate side. Big skirts with sashes and puffed sleeves and little rosebuds around the collar. Sometimes I was given a new lace headband and permitted to wear my grandmother’s jewelry. New shoes were always a must for the new year considering I grew like a weed and after spring time, Easter was just around the corner.
Sitting at the dinner table for what seemed like hours as adults cooed over how big I had gotten was no bother at all as long as I had new lacy gloves, frilly socks, and the occasional petticoat. I may not have touched the pumpkin pie as I was too particular about desserts as a kid. But swinging my legs under the table, I thought about the sound my new shoes made when I walked across the tile kitchen floor and the compliments I got from adults about my new outfit.
Being the very youngest of my family, and the only girl, I was the princess of the day even if nobody else knew it. And asking my grandmother to tie my sash or buckle my shiny flats confirmed that it was in fact Christmas, as even now I so associate the smell of Christmas trees with new, stiff lace. Candy canes with hair barrettes. And red and green with the colors of my first Christmas dress.