(Editor’s note: With the holiday season more needed than ever after a year that has been challenging to say the least, The Westfield News asked several members of the WhipCity Wordsmiths to share a thoughtful recollection of years past. We hope this series of cherished holiday memories by local writers will enlighten you and perhaps even remind you of a time from your past that you also treasure.)
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Sisters Susan Buffum and Lynnmarie May both treasured the time they worked at Conner’s Office Products, Cards & Gifts – especially during the holiday season.
Buffum is an author/artist living in Westfield who has written 23 novels, 17 anthologies, and seven novellas. Her books can be found at Blue Umbrella Books at 2 Main St., Westfield, and online on booksellers’ sites and on Amazon and Kindle. She and daughter Kelly Buffum are co-founders of the WhipCity Wordsmiths, Westfield’s writer/author social, support, and networking group which was established in June of 2017. Buffum is also a board member of Artworks of Westfield where she is the literary liaison.
May lives in Westfield and has had work published in literary journals and local papers as well as in many children’s magazines including Cricket, Clubhouse, Ladybug, Babybug, On the Line, and Story Friends. She is currently working on new magazine pieces, picture book texts, and a YA novel. She also writes 10-minute plays. May is a member of many writer’s organizations as well as the WhipCity Wordsmiths.
Buffum and May have written this story for our readers titled “Christmas 1995 – The Year of the Red Pants.”
“It’s all about family at the holidays, planning and implementing a surprise for a Mom who was losing her vision due to illness and would not be able to see her family,” said Buffum. “We wanted to give her a memorable holiday, one that would create a vivid image in her mind when she was no longer able to see us when we got together.”
May shared a similar sentiment.
“Every family has at least one memorable Christmas, so we hope our story will spark memories for many people of memorable Christmases in their past,” said May.
Christmas 1995 – The Year of the Red Pants
Family. Gathering together for Sunday dinners and holidays. Celebrating Christmas together.
Mom and Dad moved the family to Westfield in June of 1973 from nearby Easthampton and we’ve called this city home ever since. However, no matter where we lived, their house was the gathering place for family for Sunday dinners, holidays, and special occasions. That never changed throughout the years. It was Mom’s greatest joy to be able to host these gatherings.
When her health began to decline, she and Dad moved from the north side of the city to downtown Westfield. The three of us kids had grown up and established lives of our own, yet Sundays and holidays were still a time to gather and enjoy one another’s stories, some of them quite outrageous. Get togethers were always boisterous with all of us talking over one another, adding comical asides and comments, and plenty of laughter. The food was always plentiful and amazing as Mom was a fantastic cook and Dad the best kitchen helper there ever could be.
Dad, for as long as he’d been a father, always dressed as Santa’s elf on Christmas morning in his sweatpants with his Santa Claus print boxer shorts worn over them, a sweatshirt, elf shoes, and a Santa Claus hat perched at a tilt on his head. That was his tradition.
In 1995, Lynnmarie wanted to surprise Mom, who was losing her vision due to advancing diabetic retinopathy, with a special, memorable, and bright Christmas that she wouldn’t soon forget. Susan and Jeffrey were then called on and the sly and the hush-hush plans were laid for all the kids and then 4-year old Kelly –Susan and John’s daughter – to show up at Mom and Dad’s on Christmas morning decked out in bright red sweatpants and a holiday themed sweatshirt. We each stormed Walmart in a frantic search for red sweatpants in the correct sizes. Then, early on Christmas morning, calls were made to coordinate arrival times so we’d all appear together as a group for Christmas breakfast, gift exchanging, opening stockings, and a spectacular Christmas dinner.
Spirits were high, mirth was running like a river beneath the surface of our smiles ready to spill into laughter as we trooped into the living room where Mom was sitting in her usual chair awaiting the arrival of her family. “Merry Christmas!” rang loudly in multiple voices throughout the large room where the eight foot tree stood decorated with heirloom ornaments and all aglow with white lights. The smile on Mom’s face and her peals of laughter and delight at the red pants Christmas morning surprise filled the room with joy and love. Dad, of course, was dressed in his traditional Christmas elf outfit, but that year his sweatpants were bright red not gold, and the other seven of us were hard to miss in our equally bright red sweatpants and holiday sweatshirts!
That, to our family, is what Christmas is all about – celebrating together, laughter, family, love, and the making of memories. Some of us have outgrown our red sweatpants, but none of us will ever outgrow the memory of that special Christmas morning of the red pants.