Updated: May 21

After dinner on Christmas Eve, I shot-up from the table and scuttled to the garage.

I knew EXACTLY where I had seen it.

The little, red, spiral-bound book.

During the 2020 quarantine I did a massive garage clean-out.

The 'red book' had been located and set aside for safe keeping.

The front cover reads: Christmas Through The Years.

A gift my mom received in 1984 from her sister.

I would have been 2 years old at the time.

Emerging from the garage I proudly brought the book to the dining table.

For the rest of the evening, my mom and I went through every page.

There was a lot of laughter and some tears too.

Since 1984 this red book documented Christmas.

Each year, the annual Christmas letter was glued to a page.

This newsy letter was sent with a photo card.

Back then, women were writing/typing out 2-page family updates.

Other artifacts were included in the book, my letters to Santa.

The book had a spot to write the:

Weather, Menu and Guests on Christmas Day.

The 'Year In Review' provided a place for world events, earthquakes, trips.

Also, a record of Christmas gifts received and any other holiday memories.

My mom added to this book every-single-year.

From 1984-2003

19 years!

Quite an accomplishment.

I found myself profoundly impacted by the book and its contents.

After making my way through the entire 19 years I thought....

It's time to stop running, Sheila.

See, I've spent a lot of my life running from the past.

Why would I want to focus on a past that connects me to my dad's alcoholism?

No thanks. Avoid. Run. Remove that entire chapter from my life.

12 Step Recovery in both Alanon and ACA has helped shift my perspective.

I am better able to see the disease of alcoholism and also the good.

I understand duality.

I can hold the pain of alcoholism and also hold the good memories.

It's truly a miracle shift in mindset.

The mental 'ah-ha's' I had from this Christmas Memory Book pierced my psyche deeply.

  1. I have women ancestors, historians, and guides in my life.

  2. These women were/are deeply flawed but also powerful in their ability to create meaning in their lives despite setbacks.

  3. Traditions connect me to these women.

  4. Is documenting life important? How does it serve us?

4 Women Jumped Off The Pages of the

Little Red Christmas Memory Book.


Peggy was a dear family friend. I called her 'Mimi' and she became my honorary California Grandma. Peggy's personality was larger than life. Red looooooong finger nails, gold sparkly mumu's, large broaches, big hair, Elizabeth Taylor vibes and this...dare I say..... a gaudy penchant for Hollywood style extravagance. Peggy's partner was Bud, an alcoholic.


Every Christmas Eve we'd drive to Peggy's house about 15 min away.

It's all documented in the red book.

Peggy ALWAYS served Prime Rib with Potato Leak Soup for dinner.

She had these cloth napkins with felt, holly shaped, napkin holders.

The table was dressed to the nines.

Bud, her life partner, was a dud, an owner of a pipe shop.

He sat, watched tv, drank a-lot and was snarky.

Peggy dazzled.

She was the ultimate hostess.

THIS was her time of year to put on a SHOW!

She rolled out the Christmas Eve red carpet for her guests.

She slaved in the kitchen.

Her food was always high chef quality.

Peggy's mentions in the Christmas Book are what sparked the tears in me.

We lost contact with her in my late 20's.

We know she passed away but not many other details.

I miss her greatly.

She didn't mince words and she called me 'Sheila pooh.'

On Christmas Eve I will forever want Prime Rib to honor Peggy.

I must track down some felted, holly, napkin holders too!


I gave my Grandma, on my dad's side, the name Betsy.

I wanted to change my name as a little girl to Julie.