1. Presents were an homage to the golden four.
If there wasn’t some Bruins jerseys, a Red Sox baseball hat, Celtics tank or New England Patriots Starter jacket under the tree somewhere, your family was doing Christmas totally wrong. When I was a kid, I got a bright green Johnny Most t-shirt for Christmas that was wicked big on me. From them on, we called all sleepwear “Johnnies” throughout my childhood.
2. You knew which eggnog was the good stuff.
Hood. Hands down. If the Hood brand eggnog wasn’t in Stop ‘n’ Shop, you went without until it was stocked again. Or you’d scour the shelves of each packie within a mile of your house for Ma until you found some.
3. You inexplicably indulged in a sugary holiday Dunkin’ iced coffee.
Medium hazelnut with a bit of milk and sugar (double double in high school though… ugh). Almost always year-round. But during the holidays I lose my mind and grab a gingerbread or eggnog flavored one. Then I immediately regret it.
4. Going to Quincy Market was acceptable for a very short period of time.
During the year you might avoid the touristy spots like the plague, but it always looked so much prettier during the holidays. Especially Quincy Market, with all those twinkling lights strung up in every tree along the cobblestone pathways. Your family would only last an hour or two though before grabbing some spaghetti in the North End and taking a break.
5. You laced up your skates and hit the bogs.
Both north and south of the city, many towns are covered in cranberry bogs. After they’ve been harvested for the season, the bogs are flooded to help protect the plants from frost and snow. When the water freezes, it makes for prime skating conditions if you avoided a few leaves sticking out form the surface. I’d put on my second hand hockey skates from Play It Again Sports and stay out on the bogs for hours playing pickup games.
If you lived more Boston central, Frog Pond was just as good, especially on snow days during the week when the tourists scrammed and your buddies had the rink to yourselves.
6. You had a very strong opinion on the best sledding hills.
Jamaica Plain seems to have some of the most perfect hills around, especially at the Bowl where you didn’t have to worry about slamming into a parked car. If JP was packed, we’d head to Millennium Hill or Thomas Park for optimum conditions.
7. The whole house smelled like a Yankee Candle.
I’m not sure if my mother had stock tied up in this Massachusetts-based company, but well after we threw the tree out the entire house still reeked of pine and peppermint. Every year she got new ones as gifts too, which seemed to magically never run out. We were doomed when she became a teacher — the candle supply didn’t run out until St. Patrick’s Day.
8. Your parents made you dress up for the Nutcracker.
I wanted to be a ballerina for about five minutes and begged my parents to go to the Nutcracker. They took out a second mortgage, got tickets for us and we had a super fancy night out. I had to leave my Sox pom-pom hat at home have my hair in braids instead. The dancers and set design were magic and how they got it to snow inside the theater always baffled me. Having the show inside the Boston Opera house made me feel like a princess too.
9. Same for the Holiday Pops. At least once.
It was a crazy year braving the city swell of tourists and frantic shoppers to go see the Pops live. I like the singing carol part at the end, but squirmed through most of the classic stuff that seemed to go on for hours when I was young. Until they busted out Sweet Caroline — so good, so good! Doesn’t matter that it has nothing to do with the season. While fun, I’m glad we just caught them on TV the following Christmas.
10. You always had a White Christmas.
I never understood how people could slap lights on a palm tree and call it festive. No thanks. Although last year Boston has the biggest amount of snowfall in history, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The holidays mean having plenty of that white stuff, covering everything is a beautiful blanket of snow. Well, at least until me and my friends went out to destroy it in snowball fights, fort-building and snowman-making. Those days outdoors in the winter are some of the best memories I have from childhood during the holidays in Boston.