Memories of Holidays Past: Googly Eyes & Stollen Dough

Stollen Cake (Photo by Alina Levon,

Sasha Parmasad’s college composition class pooled their holiday memories to create this essay in the style of Joe Brainard’s 1970 experimental memoir, I Remember. With contributions from Crystal Waters, Nicholas Tucco, Samantha Young, Joshua Vojtisek, Abigail Neal, Monica Moscovici, Kaitlin Fitzgerald, William Clark, Aditi Gentsch, Mengyuan Wang, Michael Barrett, and Dusty.

I remember sitting on my grandfather’s lap unwrapping presents while he smoked his pipe. I remember my grandfather reading the newspaper in his favorite blue chair, the scent of pipe tobacco hanging low over a crackling fire, my grandmother in the steamy kitchen forming dough into traditional loaves of stollen. I remember I sat down in my grandmother’s yard and began to write a letter to my parents. I remember my grandfather peeling invisible corn.

I remember ignoring my parents coming into the house with bags of toys because I wanted to believe in Santa. I remember not liking when gifts weren’t wrapped. I remember the only Christmas my dad was home because of a picture in front of our Christmas tree with the most presents I’ve ever seen.

I remember drinking loads of caffeine on Christmas eve, then taking my sister’s Barbie doll. I remember my teeth meeting Barbie’s plastic flesh. I remember stringing the dismembered pieces of Barbie and hanging them on the Christmas tree, unable to stop laughing.

I remember throwing maple seeds off of the bridge and watching them spin all the way down. I remember eating candy out of my pillowcase. I remember how much I wanted to be a dinosaur.

I remember dipping a candy cane into my hot chocolate and feeling fancy. I remember stealing a small pine tree off the side of the highway under the cover of night so we could have a Christmas tree. I remember my cat hiding in the tree with the ornaments. I remember spending my birthday, three days after Christmas, by myself in a cold basement.

I remember making holiday cards with googly eyes. I remember giving my brother a box of potatoes for Christmas. I remember wrapping my brother’s gift in kitchen towels and then searching for the towels one week later.

I remember the mall dog that stole my heart.

I remember eating ham. I remember the apples became expensive because of Christmas. I remember getting lost in Walmart looking at the Star Wars action figures, and my mom hugging me in front of the customer service desk. I remember the nightly lullabies.

I remember wrapping my old toys and putting them under the tree for my mom and dad. I remember feeling guilty for craving more after I was done unwrapping presents. I remember never wanting to grow up. I remember feeling jealous of my future kids for all the presents they would receive. I remember wanting to do pretty much everything we did. I remember trying to remember.