Here’s a brand new edition of “Growing Up Fallon” – Jimmy’s sister, Gloria Fallon, shares memories and photos from their childhood during the holidays.
Christmas was easily our family’s favorite holiday. We always tried to do everything exactly like we did the year before, because the year before was always held in memory as “The Best Christmas EVER.”
Each year, we’d set up the same fake tree and we’d decorate it with the same ornaments and silver tinsel. Me and Jimmy would write letters to Santa asking him for a bunch of toys and our parents would take us to see Santa in person—sort of a second chance at getting what you want in case your letter wasn’t so great.
Easy with the hand there, guy-dressed-as-Santa.
Jimmy palling around with Santa.
On Christmas Eve, we’d leave out a plate of cookies and a glass of milk, and head to bed.
Falling to sleep on Christmas Eve is one of the hardest things to do when you’re little, and Santa’s visit is depending on it. When morning finally came, me and Jimmy would race to our parents’ room, begging to go downstairs. Dad would go before us and light up the tree, and then we’d run down and try to take it all in at once. We could do this because our parents never wrapped our Christmas presents. Mom says she just thought it looked prettier that way, which loosely translates to “Wrapping presents is a pain in the ass, so I left them unwrapped.”
Mom was always big on the same posed shots every year: us holding up our favorite gift in front of the tree. Here’s just a sampling:
The year of the trikes.
Yo-yos, Play-Doh and Magic 8 Balls…plus look at that massive TV that didn’t have a remote control just hulking there in the background.
Michael Jackson, Pacman, a telescope, Billy Joel and the family’s first-ever computer: the Commodore Vic-20! (The floppy drive was a cassette player, practically Flintstone material)
We’d play with our presents until we heard a fire engine’s siren in the distance. Then we’d put on our coats and boots and participate in a weird tradition I’ve only ever seen in Saugerties: On Christmas morning, Santa would drive around the neighborhood on the back of a fire truck, giving out boxes of hard suck-on candy. (Why would he do this after his triumphant trip around the world in a sleigh driven by reindeer? I’m just as puzzled as you are, and I don’t have the answers.)
That being our only engagement for the day, me and Jimmy had the whole day ahead of us to play with our new toys. And that made for another perfect Fallon Christmas, the best one we ever had. Until next year!
Growing Up Fallon: Thanksgiving (By Gloria Fallon)
Jimmy’s sister, Gloria Fallon, shares a collection of childhood photos and memories from their Thanksgivings past!
Even though Jimmy and I knew Thanksgiving was just the warm-up act for our favorite holiday, we’d buy into the pre-Thanksgiving hype every year (making turkey-themed art projects at school, listening to the Pilgrim story). Finally the big day would arrive, and it was all about…eating dinner.
While Mom, The Thanksgiving Martyr, cooked all day, me and Jimmy would pass the time by watching the Macy’s Parade, sticking black olives on our fingers, and eating cherries off the cheesecake. Despite her grueling cooking schedule, Mom still managed to take a couple of stock photos each year:
Here’s a typical “kids, pies and turkeys” shot, complete with olives and cheesecake:
Try to see past our high-waisted Sergio Valente jeans and our crooked haircuts, so you can focus on the true centerpiece of this Thanksgiving picture: Dad’s Beer-Can Bar, a work of art he lovingly made out of hundreds of empty beer cans. While most wives would insist this monstrosity remain in the basement, my mom allowed it pride of place in her dining room. She loves unconditionally.
Different year, same theme: kids, pies, turkey. Slightly enhanced with holiday spirit, via a fake toast from the kids.
Although Tom Petty would argue differently, it was the eating that was the hardest part of Thanksgiving when Jimmy and I were little. Food that wasn’t completely covered in sugar held no interest for us, so all this fuss for one meal seemed like a colossal waste of time. We sat next to each other every year, and usually laughed our way through the dinner until we were allowed to be excused from the table.
This picture is of the “everyone at the table” variety (that’s our Uncle Bill, our insanely awesome Grandma and Grandpa, and Jimmy and me at ages 14 and 15). I think this was the year I declared I was a vegetarian, cooked up a veggie burger and made Grandma cry. Some Thanksgivings were happier than others.
Then only thirty minutes after it began, this enormous feast was over. The pies were served, and then the massive clean-up began. In the old days, a standard Fallon party would follow, which involves lots of singing, harmonizing, and dancing around the house. When everyone was partied out, Mom would make Super-Dupers (turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and gravy on white bread) and we’d all sit down in front of the TV with them. Thanksgiving was over, and now we could start concentrating on a holiday worth anticipating…Christmas!