My Favorite (And Least Favorite) Christmases

I’m taking time today to reflect back on my favorite Christmases.  If you still believe (and you know what I mean), stop reading now!  I’ll even put a picture of what I’m talking about so you don’t accidentally read something you shouldn’t!


Before I get into my favorite Christmases, I can definitely tell you that two of my three least favorites ones were Christmas 1990 (my mother died that November) and Christmas 1993 (following the death of my grandmother, Helen, also in November).


I was forced out of her house where I was living while assisting Helen (pictured) as she aged.  While it was pretty bleak being forced to find a place to live and move out and not have a chance to grieve her death, the silver lining is that it gave the opportunity the following summer to move to Chicago and to begin the next phase of my adult life!  My only regret is that I didn’t keep that aluminum Christmas tree!

And, since you’re still reading, my other least favorite Christmas was the one, as a kid, when I discovered that Santa wasn’t really the one that brought us presents.

My father was drunk, as usual, and we were getting ready to go to Aunt Norma’s for our annual Christmas Eve tradition.  For some reason, my sister and I were not allowed to go into my bedroom once we had gone out to play that day.

Before we left to go to my aunt’s house, I got mad at either Tammy or my mother and went storming into my bedroom.  And, there they sat!  All of our presents from “Santa” on Christmas Eve in the afternoon!  I’m surprised that I ever got anything else from my mother.  She was furious with me!  ‘Tis the season!  Luckily, for me, the spirit of Christmas didn’t end that day.

As a child, the first toy that I can remember asking for and getting was a red cash register like this one.

Cash Register

I’m sure playing with money as a youngster helped me excel in math and money management today!

My favorite Christmas present growing up was a Panasonic tape recorder that I got in 1976.

Panasonic Tape Recorder

I spent hours listening to the radio recording songs, making montages, and I remembering making a “Hurricane Allen” tape as the storm hit Texas in 1980.

The first song I ever recorded was “You Don’t Have To Be A Star (To Be In My Show)”, which hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it won a Grammy for Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.

record player

My other favorite Christmas gift growing up was a record player that I had to share with my sister.  I used to have an awesome album and dance single collection.  When I moved to Chicago in 1994, my friend, Dennis, kept them for me.  Unfortunately, without asking me, he gave them, along with my two turntables and mixer, away years later.  I really wish he had told me he wanted me to come get them!

Nevertheless, I think I want a turntable for Christmas this year.  For some reason, I want to go to the resale shops and buy some of my favorite albums again and listen to the crackle of vinyl.  And, vinyl is making a comeback!

Those were my favorite Christmas gifts growing up.  While I appreciate the things that Gretel makes for us, Ray and I don’t go overboard with gifts because we’re not materialistic and neither of us need anything.  This year, our cruise is the Christmas gift for us, Gretel, Tammy, and Betty.  We’ll have a few small gifts to open when we get back home.

Now, I want to share some of my favorite memories (through pictures) from Christmases past.


The last Christmas with my mother (pictured with my cousin, Steve).

Dessie Christmas 1989 Anthony Graduation Picture


My first Christmas with Betty (Mom).

Betty 1995


Miss ABBA’s first Christmas — she was 7 months old.

ABBA's First Christmas 2000


After meeting the Easter Bunny in the spring, Miss ABBA got to meet Old St. Nick that holiday season!

ABBA Santa Christmas 2001


ABBA in the Manger Christmas 2006


Miss ABBA says, “Don’t worry.  He’s cool.  We go way back!”

ABBA Panda Christmas 2008 001


This was our first Christmas together as a family.  While Miss ABBA and I always enjoyed the holiday seasons, having two more loving people to share our lives with made it more magical.  It was so incredible getting a hand-made present from my little girl, Gretel, for the first time.  And, Christopher, Panda, and Mom visited that Christmas.

2009 Family ChristmasMacy's Christmas 20092009 Gretel Art WorkABBA Gretel Christmas 2009ABBA Christmas 2009Christopher Panda Betty Christmas 2009


Miss ABBA allowed us all to hang out with her old buddy, Santa.  We also spent part of the holidays at/on frozen Spirit Lake, Iowa, with Ray’s family and then we drove to Nashville, Tennessee, to see Tammy at the beautiful Opryland Hotel.

Family Spirit Lake 2010Nashville Christmas 2010 Family and TammyChristmas Santa Family 2010

And, I’m not sure whose present it was, but Miss ABBA was definitely wanting something here whether it was hers or not!   From the look on Gretel’s face and her holding Miss ABBA back, I’d say it was Gretel’s!  This one cracks me up. 🙂

Ray ABBA Gretel Christmas 2010


Tammy’s first Christmas with us in the Quad Cities and sadly, Miss ABBA’s last Christmas.  We’re very fortunate that she was happy and healthy and thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas feast and opening her own presents like in the past.

Tammy Christmas 2011ABBA Stocking Christmas 2011ABBA Christmas 2011ABBA Treats From Sue


O Christmas Tree 2012

Merry Christmas!




8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Judy on December 19, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Anthony…Funny thing about your cash register in your picture…I have one like it the grandsons played with for awhile before I packed it away with other stuff.


  2. Posted by Wanda on December 19, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Awww Thanks so much for sharing…I still cried…have a Great time on your cruise.


  3. Posted by Lisa on December 23, 2013 at 7:40 am

    Well looks like you have had a first part of a great life! And many more to come. I hope Im your friend for a very long time so I can see what your memories are ten or twenty years from now. I cried reading what your gifts are and remembering many of mine. The cash register was the bomb! My mom worked very hard at Christmas for us and Im sure your mom did too. I figured out about Santa while snooping….this year I believe my 8 yr old did. I dont enjoy Christmas so much for many reasons…maybe I should blog about them someday? However I plan on making some of my own very soon and begin to enjoy it like I should. With that said Have a Merry Christmas with Gretel and Ray my sweet friend.


    • Lisa,

      I’m sorry that your 8-year-old may have found out. Maybe you’re wrong. 🙂

      Start a blog. It gives you an avenue to express yourself more and write. I love it.

      Yes, my mother worked very hard to get us the few things that we did have and I cherished them then and the thought of them now.

      Merry Christmas to you and your family. Happy 2014!



  4. Posted by Connie Huizenga on December 27, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    I enjoy reading of your past Christmases and seeing the resemblance to my past Christmases. If you ever need some old vinyl, I have my old records from the 60’s. I never got rid of them. I hope that this Christmas and the future Christmases make the list of favorites.


    • Connie,

      Happy New Year!

      Thank you for sharing your story with me. I have bought some records at a shop near downtown Moline and at yard sales — a few just to have them!



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