It took a lot of wrapping, some last minute scrambling and a fair bit of traveling, but all the gifts finally got finished, wrapped and delivered to the appropriate drop-off porches before Christmas!
I even had time to finish the Christmas baking, decorate the house and send two last Christmas cards, all before Christmas Eve! This could be a new record for me, getting everything done on time so there was nothing left to do on Christmas day but cook dinner and take it easy.
It’s not the kind of Christmas we’ve had in recent years, and even before that, Christmas happened in various places – one year I traveled by Greyhound bus to Pullman, Washington a few days before Christmas to visit my sister and her family and flew back to Calgary on Christmas day, eating what passed for Christmas dinner in the Spokane airport after being delivered there by a bus driver wearing a Santa suit.
Many years saw us heading to Calgary for Christmas at my in-laws’ home, after my father-in-law could no longer travel up here to join us, and after he passed on, or else my mother-in-law would hop on the Greyhound to spend the holiday with us, as long as she could travel. Having Christmas at home seemed like a luxury in those days.
More recently, we’ve had a standing invitation to both daughters’ homes for Christmas, or Boxing Day, or New Year’s, depending on who was working when to determine when most people were available, including the year my mother-in-law spent at Parkview Extended Care, when we picked her up and took her along with us on Christmas day.
We have always had some kind of family celebration here, although often not on Christmas day, and with the family expanding considerably over the years, it grew from table to full length to bringing up the old table to add on, then adding a card table as well and finally to sending some of them down to eat on the quilting tables in the rumpus room. It was loud, crowded and festive to the max and the house was so very quiet after they went home, except for the dishwasher chugging through several loads of dishes, one after the other.
We not only outgrew tables, we outgrew sets of dishes – the pine bough set I gave my mother the first Christmas I had a job only set eight places, the blue-and-white set collected one plate at a time as a grocery store bonus set 12 and the snowman and snowflakes set is good for 14. By the time we were having the whole gang, we were using a set for 16 we got as a gift one year, and another set for the kids. One year, we had two settings, feeding the kids first while the adults enjoyed happy hour.
This year was very different. We could use the pine plates, which are 59 years old but have barely been out of the china cabinet for decades. We needed only one table, with no leaves and no looking for big enough tablecloths, and we weren’t hauling the folding chairs upstairs for extra seating. And after we ate, the dishwasher wasn’t anywhere near full, but the fridge was stuffed with enough leftovers for days to come.
We had ourselves a very quiet and restful Christmas, and while we missed being with the whole gang, at their homes or ours, we knew we were doing our part of what was necessary to keep ourselves and the rest of the family safe. Maybe next year, we can get back to the usual big gatherings that always make me want to quote Maurice Sendak in ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ and his decree, “Let the wild rumpus begin!”
As for New Year’s, that hasn’t usually been a big celebration since the days when we would go to the New Year’s Eve dances in Elk Point or Armistice, and the last time we had a New Year’s Eve party was in 1999, when we wondered if the world would end on the stroke of midnight. It didn’t, we’re all still here, and this too shall pass.
Happy New Year everyone!