A Natalie Christmas Story
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” as the 1951 song by Meredith Wilson goes.
Just the other day, Courtney and I were talking about our mom and we both agreed that it is hard for us to pick which holiday was our mom’s very favorite because she made all the holidays in our life feel so special. But if we had to pick one we agreed it would be Christmas. Maybe because so much of her childhood was spent on movie sets, or because her greatest wish was to have children, or maybe because she was in the greatest Christmas movie of all time (in our humble opinion!) Miracle on 34th Street but our mom always made Christmas at our house an unforgettable experience.
Every year, we would buy our Christmas tree as soon as they hit the lots (this was way before the drought in California when people could actually have Christmas trees for longer periods of time). We remember Willie Mae our beloved nanny, helping my mom carry up the big boxes of ornaments from our basement. All five of us, plus Willie Mae, our godfathers, Howard and Mart, and my mom’s best friends would spend the evening decorating the tree.
Without fail, at the end of each yearly tree-trimming extravaganza, my mom would exclaim, “This is the best Christmas tree we have ever had!”
Courtney and I would fall down laughing and my dad would say, “Natalie, you always say that!”
But the fun didn’t stop there. My parents would host a Christmas Eve party for my sisters and I and all of our friends complete with a visit from jolly old Santa who would show up with gifts for every child. When the time came for Santa to be on his way, my dad would hide behind the window of our living room and jingle some sleigh bells. That was Santa’s cue to ask the us, “Can you hear the bells?”
“YES!” we would shout in unison.
“The reindeer are getting restless,” he would say. He needed to get back to his sleigh so that he could start making his away around the globe delivering all the children’s gifts. (Weren’t we lucky that our house on Canon Drive was his first stop?!) And of course, before it was time for bed, my parents, Katie, Courtney, and I would carefully arrange a tray of cookies and milk for Santa.
In the morning before we opened our presents, my mom and dad would read the “letter” that Santa wrote to us. In the letter he would talk about various accomplishments or happy moments from throughout the year. Courtney and I would marvel to each other “How does he know this stuff?! Santa is the greatest.”(It wasn’t until Courtney and I started to recognize my dad’s handwriting that we realized somebody else other than Santa was writing the letters to us!)
Now that I am a mother, I love recreating these holiday traditions with Clover and my stepsons. I feel my mom’s childlike enthusiasm and joy on Christmas morning when I watch my children listen to my husband read their “letter” from Santa just like my parents did with me.
I wish everyone the warmest of holidays. Thank you again for helping me keep my beautiful mom’s memory alive. Creating the Natalie fragrance and assisting Manoah in the book has been the most beautiful experience for me, and feeling the love and support from all of you has made me deeply happy.
Hopefully the child within all of us will shine bright with holiday cheer this season.