It’s Christmas Day and we sit reminiscing about Christmas Past.
Once upon a time we used to drive up to the farm to cut down a tree for Christmas. As a teenager I would pile batches of friends into our station wagon and drive 3hrs north to Burks Falls. This idea of a real tree was novel to some of the friends, particularly those from southern climes.
Somehow, your perception of how big of a tree you need is different in the wilderness. One time, we had a tree that was so heavy we couldn’t get it to stand up straight without anchoring it to three corners of the room. Another year we didn’t have the means to get up to the farm, so we cut the tree from the front yard at Glenlake. You can’t really blame the neighbours if they thought we were Herdmans.
That tree too was somehow so much bigger once we got it inside and in my Christmas enthusiasm, I cut off the top instead of the bottom. Exhausted from the struggle when we discovered it was still too big we just wedged it between the floor and the ceiling. It didn’t need any container or anchoring and appeared to be growing into the second floor of the house.
And then there was the Christmas (or several) when we didn’t even have a tree and used a wooden ladder, somewhat bejeweled with decorations and stacked with presents. How do people recall this stuff? It is all so conveniently blocked out of my mind in favour of some kind of Rockwellian past.
On the 23rd I woke up four hours and two appointments late. As I dashed out the door, Mike tried to waylay me with lists of menus and plans and chores and I burst into tears cause the tree was up and the house was decorated and the tables were set and everything was underway and I hadn’t even been home in two months let alone helped out with Christmas.
Christmas is my holiday. I own it. It starts on November 1st and happens when, how and with whom I say. Santa knows this. Everyone knows this. So it was a bit of a surprise to see that it marched right on without me this year, too busy even to think of presents or over-the-top fru-fru.
On the 24th at noon we closed up the cafe and I wrapped the presents Mike had bought for the kids. Then I realized I didn’t even have a present for Mike. I ran down to Kool Stuff on King and met – aw, shoot, I asked him his name twice – a very nice guy who owns the place, full of stuff that Mike would love. I knew from recent “What would you do with a million dollars” conversations that Mike was coveting some sort of video game, possibly that requires a new system that he doesn’t have, but I could not recall the details and buddy at the store was more of a comic collector. Wouldn’t it be great if I listened better? Remembered things? Paid more attention? Planned ahead?
I gave up and got a $20 gift certificate for Kool Stuff.
They say that in a person’s life we can only manage four (4) priorities. That after that, we can’t keep to our commitments. I ticked them off on Christmas eve, shortly before the family arrived for happy hour at the cafe. In no particular order: Community-building; Teaching (Bestseller Bootcamp); Writing (aka ‘Learning things the hard way’); Heart of the Hammer Cafe; Family. Give you one guess which one has fallen off lately.
And now it’s Christmas Day and the kerfluffus is over. I’ve been in pj’s all day and finally went hunting for games in the hall dresser when what should I discover? The gifts I bought for Mike all those months ago and stashed in a drawer so he wouldn’t find them.
The Kool Stuff gift certificate is still pegged to the bulletin board at the Cafe and Mike still hasn’t seen it. The certificate itself is so cool that I suspect it will never get spent.