Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

December 19, 2013

VALLEY: 'Twas the week before Christmas ...

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Christmas Eve is less than a week away. Christmas Eve, that’s when I give my wife, Kathie, her present.

Here’s something you won’t be hearing around the Valley household that day ... or ever: “He went to Jared’s.”

Why should I? There’s no need to. Not when I can buy her a beautiful diamond studded key-chain at Kwik-Fil for under five bucks. Well, I’m not sure if they’re real diamonds, but they’re pretty cool. Real shiny! (Not to mention, it has “Keep on Truckin’!” on the flip side.)

I can’t wait to see the look on her face when she opens it.

Yeah, I know, I say the same thing every Christmas. So, relax. I’m only kidding. I already got her one.

Our three kids and their families usually join us for an afternoon holiday get-together on that day (Christmas Eve). We have a brunch and exchange gifts so that they can return to their respective homes for Christmas Eve night.

After they leave, my wife suffers a smidgen of seasonal melancholy. She’s sad because “the kids and grandkids are growing up so fast.”

Me? I’m sad, too.

I’m sad because with wrapping paper and cookie crumbs all over the house, it usually take three hours to clean up the place. I can hardly hear the TV, with my wife clanking dishes and running the vacuum cleaner that long.

(Oh, back off! It’s just another joke. She can usually get it done in an hour — or two.)

Every Christmas Eve night, I sit and watch a “Christmas Carol” with Alistair Sim. Well, I don’t actually “sit” with Sim, I meant he’s in the movie. I have the DVD, which includes the original black-and-white version and a colorized one as well.

I’m old school, and watch only the b/w production. Colorizing a classic to make it “look better” is like adding a turtleneck sweater to the Mona Lisa to make her more in tune with the times. Leave it alone, please.

The “Scrooge” movie reminds me of when I was young. I’d watch it all day and night. It was broadcast non-stop on a New York City television station much the same way TBS now shows “A Christmas Story” during the holidays and “The Big Bang Theory” the rest of the year. (What’s up with that, anyhow?)

Tradition plays an important role in the bonding of any family. And, with the Valleys, it’s no different. Each year I make a variation of my mother’s meat-pie; it’s of French-Canadian origin and tradition. Mom called it “tucaire” but I think its correct name is “tourtaire.”

It never fails: as I proudly carry the hot and steamy product to the table, squeals ring out. My kids go crazy. But despite their protests, my wife usually convinces them to, at least, try it. “Maybe it’s better this time,” she says. “Besides, it’s only once a year … humor the ol’ guy, will ya?!”

And Kathie, she usually bakes enough cookies for three: the United States Marine Corps, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and all of the people east of the Mississippi River named Smith. It’s always good to have an extra 40 dozen lying around when that annual diet starts in only 7 days. She also likes to give some of them to the kids to take home. That’s when I fire up the fork-truck and gladly help them load their vehicles.

On a final note: This year, I’ve come up with a plan to make it easier when cleaning up. (Yes, I actually help despite my chauvinistic bravado.) Before everyone arrives this time, I’m going to pull the couch away from the wall and put a tarp down behind it. For some reason, we always find quite a bit of meat pie stuffed back there after everyone leaves.

Maybe it came from Jared’s.

Merry Christmas, one and all!

And that’s the way it looks from the Valley.

For the first time in 57 years, Tom Valley is not going to buy 100 pounds of oats to have ready for the holidays. He's finally given up the dream of finding a pony (named Buckshot) under the tree on Christmas morning. Consolable at tvalley@rochester.rr.com.