This Christmas was the first one I spent without my parents. I wasn't too bummed at first because I knew I'd still be celebrating Christmas Eve with my Dad's family. Then a week and half before Christmas the Parentas (that's not a typos it's the plural of my last name as in more than one Parenta.) canceled Christmas. Severly disappointed I moped around Brooklyn. My boyfriend Jack saw my dispair. He placed his index finger under my chin; lifted my head from my chest; looked into my eyes; and, said, "Rachael, stop with the self pity. You have it alot better than most people on this planet. You know what? We're going to volunteer at a soup kitchen this Christmas. Give back. Perhaps act a little Christ like this year."

"A soup kitchen?!" I exclaimed and questioned at the same time.

"Gotcha!" Jack retorted.

We laughed. He got me good. I immediately felt better. After the laughter subsided Jack invited me to Pittsburgh to celebrate Christmas with his family. In our 8 years of dating I've never once celebrated a holiday with the Kunderas. I had a bit of trepidation about it. Every family has their own way of celebrating holidays and I didn't know if I'd feel awkward and out of place with someone else's family.

Well, Jack and his mom went out of their way to recreate the Christmas traditions my parents and I have established over the years. Christmas morning we awoke in the Kunderas home and went downstairs to open presents. Surprisingly there were presents for me their from Jack's mom. I was really touched. She didn't have to do that. I opened them up. The first one was a sweatshirt. It had rainbow sewn on it. I have to say it was hideous, but I smiled and thanked her very much. The next box I opened contained plaid knickers. Again I smiled. Another box had buttoned down shirt with a lacy collar. She also bought me a rainbow beret. Jack was like, "That's awesome it matches the sweatshirt." There was nothing I could do but smile and say thank you.

After everyone had opened their presents Jack's mom suggested I go ahead and try on the stuff she bought me. I tried to politely get out of it. But she wouldn't take "no" for an answer. Jack smiled and asked "Does it feel like a Parenta Christmas yet?"

"What do you mean?"
"You know, clothes you don't like you're forced to try on."

Oh my god! It was the sweetest thing ever. Jack and his mom had conspired to recreate every Christmas morning I've ever experienced in my life. Every year I open presents from my mom. I tear open the wrapping to find clothes I never want to wear that my mom thinks I should wear. Then she forces me to try it on and show her how they look. I begrudgingly acquiesce to her wish. I wind up hating almost everything. My mom gets mad and she and I have fight. Mom says, "Fine, I'll return it all. Good I can get my money back." Then my Dad makes eggs and we eat breakfast.

When I realized what Mrs. Kundera was doing. I jumped to my feet and excitedly tried on the clothes. I've never been so happy to put a pair of knickers on. Mrs. Kundera and I didn't actually fight but she did pretend to get huffy. She agressively threw out tissue-paper. When she thought I wasn't looking she took the tissue-paper out of the garbage and placed it in the recycle bin.

No, it wasn't the same as spending Christmas with my own parents, but I did feel loved. I felt almost as loved as if I had actually fought with my own mother Christmas morning.

God bless us everyone.