Old Christmas Photos

I first posted this essay on December 24, 2012, as I neared the first anniversary of my blog.  I had printed out a copy for my parents to read.  My father got hold of it first and became somewhat emotional.  But both he and my mother appreciated my honesty and ultimately liked it.


In the five years since, there’s seems to have been a lifetime’s worth of changes in my world.  Most notably my father is gone, and so is my dog.  My mother just turned 85, but didn’t seem to remember until she saw the birthday card and a glass vase stuffed with pinkish-red flowers on her dresser.  Always give your loved ones flowers while they’re still alive!  Laying them at a grave site is actually a waste of time and almost ghoulish.


In retrospect, it’s odd because none of us ever really got into the spirit of Christmas (whatever that’s supposed to mean), but relished it for the sake of family.  My father’s side would gather on Christmas Eve, usually at my grandmother’s home, as Hispanic clans often do.  On my mother’s side, we often convened at the home of her older sister on Christmas day, as non-Hispanics often do.  That “non-Hispanic” side is really half-German.  And, while there’d be a Teutonic-looking angel perched atop my aunt’s Christmas tree, we’d have chicken enchiladas as the main lunch course.  Yes, Christmas in America takes many forms!


I don’t know why people wait until the end of the year to reflect on events of the previous twelve months.  Is it just neater?  Or purely sentimental?  Perhaps both.  Regardless, I have to thank all of you who have stuck with me and my quirky dispositions these past five years.  In this hyper-fast, electronic-based, Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/latest I-Phone age, there’s much to be said for people who actually take time to read stuff online (as opposed to just scanning through it) or in print (as opposed to asking, ‘Can I just download a copy?’).


Thanks again, everyone, for tolerating this 50-something Wolfman!  And we’ll see what howl-worthy events 2018 brings!

Chief Writing Wolf


I don’t get too much into the Christmas thing; never really have.  But, I do wish most folks a ‘Merry Christmas.’  It’s just a tradition for most of us born and raised in Christian-based societies.  There is one tradition, though, that I think about often.  My father’s family used to gather every Christmas Eve at his mother’s house.  It’s a common Hispanic ritual.  They gather late on Christmas Eve, eat tamales and other conventional Mexican foods, and then go to midnight mass at a local Catholic church.  Most of us in the family, however, didn’t partake of midnight mass.  We’d usually eaten and drank too much by then.

My father’s family last converged on my grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve 2000; she died the following February at age 97.  And, that was it.  No one got together anymore.  Not for Thanksgiving, not for Christmas, not for Easter.  In fact, the…

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6 responses to “Old Christmas Photos

  1. I’m pretty sure there’s a novel in that family story somewhere. Things can get quite contentious when it comes to wills and estates.

    Christmas–and holidays in general–can lose their spark as we get older. People we once shared them with are gone, and new responsibilities consume us. So it’s good to take the time to reflect back, as you have here, even if we do wait until the end of the year to do it.

    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. Hopefully the changes will slow down for you. Unless they’re good ones. Then hopefully they’ll speed up!

    • Thank you, Carrie! My father and I had started collaborating on a history of the De La Garza family a few years ago. He had amassed reams of data through his genealogical research, so there’s quite a bit of material. Despite his death last year, I still intend to complete that project; mainly because it’ll be my homage to him, but it’d also be a true labor of love.

      I now that everyone has a story to tell, and everyone should be given that chance. And not just the rich and famous either! I’ve often told people they can look at their own life experiences and their own families to find some intriguing stories. Whether or not they’re pleasant tales is a different matter. But larger-than-life personas aren’t the only ones whose lives are worth relaying to the world!

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family! And best wishes on your continued success in your writing career!

  2. Merry Christmas! Fascinating tale, but yes Id love to jump back into photographs of Christmasses Past!

  3. I can relate. My grandparents had a will. After my grandfather died, my grandmother still had the will intact in the event of her death. It remained intact despite her marriages to two other men. When my grandmother died, the then-husband told my mother he’d be remaining in the home. Fortunately the will was there and she nicely told him he could move out now.

    I have a great-aunt who is the last of her parent’s children. Her father was a farmer and his property would now go for a pretty penny. She owns a nice chunk of that family property that will be distributed among her siblings’ children upon her demise (she has no children of her own). She’s always held that over their heads for the past 20 years. Now that she’s in her mid-90’s, they’re all chomping at the bit for her to keel over so they can fight over that money. Oh, they’ll say they aren’t. But I can smell blood. It won’t be long.

    • In the 1930s and 40s, my paternal grandfather made a good living in the construction trade. He and his crew built some warehouses in Dallas that stood for years. Some are still standing and have been converted into chic loft apartments on the southern edge of downtown. When he died in 1969, apparently some people thought he was a millionaire – specifically some of my grandmother’s family members. My father said all these uncle and aunts he hadn’t seen in years suddenly started showing up from South Texas to console their newly-widowed sister. It made him suspicious – and a little angry – that they were just trying to take advantage of my grandmother’s situation. Needless to say, they didn’t get any money.

      Estate issues can easily tear up a family. An old friend of mine told me his grandfather’s death in 1977 prompted a war between some of his aunts and uncles; a conflict that wasn’t easily resolved and led to some of them not speaking to each other for years. Fortunately, I’m an only child, but I still hate to see that happen to anyone.

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