Almost all my friends and I have reasons to dislike, or even dread the coming of Christmas. Oh, I go through the motions – I shop, I clean, I cook – because it’s expected (isn’t that what grandmas do?) I make piles of gingerbread men, squares of shortbreads, and sugar-cookie Christmas trees. And I decorate – just a little – a few lights, some synthetic pine boughs. This year, unless I really get more into the spirit, that horrible little bottlebrush artificial tree may go up again, just so no one thinks I’m sinking into some kind of depression. But really, now that my life partner is gone, the kids have grown up and even the grandchildren, the season and the day just isn’t the same.
And yet, and yet… I was thinking the other night about some sparkly little lights around my window, and maybe garlanding my archway with cedar and pine boughs, and I remembered the warm, spicy smell of those mincemeat cookies, and I thought it might be an interesting mix of people to invite some of my newer friends, the ones who might be feeling a little alone during the season, to join with the family I have near, and believe it or not, I began to look forward to “the season,” just a tiny bit.
I haven’t braved the crowds of shoppers in the malls yet. I may not, because as a retiree I should really have sense enough to shop during quieter hours, say, Monday morning. But there’s something about milling around during the final few days, the meeting friends unexpectedly and pausing for a hot chocolate and a quick visit that makes it a special event. There’s still, in spite of myself, a little anticipation of a cold, moonlit Christmas Eve when everything that’s going to get done has been done, and you arrive back from the traditional carolling service to the peaceful warmth of home.
You’re greeted with the faint fresh smell of evergreen, mixing nicely with the sage and onion of the turkey dressing ready for morning. The decorations sparkle in the reflection of the outdoor lights on the snow. The tree is a beauty after all, glittering with icicles, gleaming with the old ornaments stored from year to year and generating memories of their own when they’re unpacked.
There’s no way we’ll ever recover the thrill and excitement of the Christmases we experienced as children. The tree, the same one we had been sitting beside and admiring in anticipation for days before Christmas seemed to have a special glow when we approached it in the darkness of a Christmas morning. The thrill of opening parcels after guessing and wondering can never be duplicated. The discovery of the exact doll you had admired in Eaton’s Toyland a month before, now, under that tree was a feeling impossible to describe, as is, even now, waking up that Christmas morning wearing the most special of all gifts, my diamond engagement ring, presented on that Christmas Eve. But now, even though many Christmases have passed, each with their own special memories, it’s going to be all right. We’ll get through the season, no, we’llenjoythe season, the friends, family and a peaceful country in which we can celebrate and be thankful.
Merry Christmas, after all! – Edie Mowat writes from Brandon, Manitoba