It is the day that was always marked by a birthday.
My grandmother's birthday.
Her older sister Ophelia always marked it by making a pineapple upside-down cake.
My brother Isaiah and I both had an unexplained craving for pineapple yesterday.
He called me, wanting one, and wishing he could have one that tasted like Ophelia's. (We say her name "Aunt AFEEya" and my grandmother always called her "Feeya Baby.")
I told him that I stood in the grocery aisle holding cans of pineapple, tasting one in my mind, but not knowing why.
Aunt Ophelia knows why. I'll bet she made her sister that cake for all of their lives. They were both shake-your-head-it's-so-good cooks, that will not be topped in my family. We would go around to Gig's on Christmas week, and there would be her birthday pineapple cake.
It's our first Christmas without her, and - she was Christmas for our family, for many years. The tie that brought us together. The house we could not wait to go to, no matter what our ages. She and my grandfather had that beautiful knack of staying young, of getting the gifts that every kid wanted. (Big Wheel trike? Check! Loud, singing holiday toy? Check! Cash money for the grubby teens? Check!)
They had the turntable side cabinet, and every holiday album imagineable - cued up from Thanksgiving on. The recent years brought CDs into their lives, but I always enjoyed my granddad DJing the turntable.
They hung stockings for their four children every year. They filled those stockings.
Though my parents decided Santa did not go hand in hand with their beliefs, I chose to believe. I chose to create Santa for my family.
Because she wanted it. She believed that their small years are the magical years, and the only time we can create something for them. And so for her we believe.
And for her, thanks to her wishes, we let Lucy Goosey preside over our hearth. Happily dressed in her holiday cheer, she is at home, Gig.
Lucy Goosey is home for Christmas.