By R.J. Harlick
Do you have seasonal re-reads or re-watches?
Like Meredith, Christmas for me is all about tradition and I love it. It’s a constant in the fickle cycle of life. But unlike Meredith, this tradition doesn’t include the reading of Christmas themed books nor the watching of movies. But it does include plenty of other traditions.
For my husband and me, it starts with the tree, a real one of course. With our log cabin surrounded by a forest of Christmas trees, we haven’t bought one in years. About a month before the big day, when the snow is still walkable, we search for the perfect spruce tree and mark it with red tape. The weekend before Christmas we trek out in snowshoes to retrieve that lucky tree usually buried under successive snow storms, which makes chopping it down a challenge. But my husband, now an expert in Christmas tree chopping, has it down to an art. The next challenge is to half-drag, half-carry the awkward and heavy tree back to our cabin through the deep snow with our two dogs stepping on our snowshoes.
I remember one particularly memorable year, when we were doing this during a blizzard. We arrived home ready to collapse only to discover the power had gone out. And so it remained for several days, putting our Christmas celebrations in jeopardy. For that is another tradition. Our cabin has been host to our family Christmases since before my sisters’ kids were born. All have reached their twenties, with one or two entering their third decade. On this particular Christmas, with our cabin filled with their laughter and mirth, we were trying to figure out how to cook the twenty pound turkey on the barbeque, when miraculously the power came back on and saved dinner…and our backsides. A useless electric water pump had us trekking out into the cold and snow to use the outdoor facilities.
We never put the tree up until everyone has arrived, usually the 23rd, and after it has dripped its
Even though all the kids are now adults, we still get up early on Christmas Day, turn on all the Christmas lights, inside and out, play Christmas music loudly to ensure everyone is awake, make pots of tea and coffee and begin the great Christmas unwrapping. Needless to say the piles of gifts are flowing out from under the tree.
Christmas day meals are also special. Growing up, the main treat, apart from the turkey, was the escargots dripping in garlic butter that my father used to make for lunch. Now we have an enormous breakfast of eggs, bacon, smoked salmon and pancakes dripping in maple syrup, cooked by one of the nephews.
And of course the turkey dinner. I don’t think the menu has varied since I was growing up, though over the years there have been variations on the stuffing and the dessert. Lots of turkey with crispy
Although the number has gone up and down over the years, we are usually about twelve sitting around the festive table, snapping our Christmas crackers, laughing at the wimpy jokes, and sporting the colourful paper hats, at least some of us do. Others refuse to wear them, insisting they are silly. My husband carves the turkey and I dish out the veggies. Because we are such a crowd, by the time the last people are served, the first are anxious for seconds.
After dinner, various libations appear, from very old single malts and cognacs to vintage ports. Often cigars are enjoyed in the freezing cold of the porch. While most of the time we are flaked out on the
But as with anything, traditions evolve with time and life’s passages. This year with above normal temperatures bringing in rain instead of snow, it promises to be a very green Christmas…unless by some miracle we get an unforeseen snow storm. The nieces and nephews have all grown up with some bringing significant others into their lives. There is even a baby on the way. So I expect the make up of our future family gatherings will change as some of us head off to other destinations to start their own Christmas traditions. This year, we will be fewer in number as one of my sisters and her family will be spending it in the Canadian Rockies with their daughter who is working out there. We’re going to miss them.
I imagine like us you have your Christmas and other holiday traditions that have evolved over the years. It’s what helps make this time of year so special, that and families, for this is a time of year for families.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday. Take care until we meet again in the new year.