A little Christmasy
When I was a baby, my mom would sit with me in front of the tree, whispering "pretty" as she pointed at the tree.
My first word was a whispered "pwitty" (trying to say pretty) as I stared up at the beautiful tree.
I'm writing this post in my darkened flat in London, listening to Sade (never realized how talented she is) and watching the candles flicker. In the bedroom is a string of Christmas lights: a warm glow of colours that takes me back to being a little kid beside the tree in our living room, full of hot chocolate or some yummy cookies, and probably reading Archie Comics. The snowbanks out the window would glisten (only at Christmas does "glisten" not sound cheesy) with the reflection of the coloured lights in everybody's windows. I loved having snow on Christmas - so much that when I was 11 years old and in Florida, I prayed for it, even though it hadn't snowed there in 111 years. Turns out God has a sense of humour, and the entire state of Florida shut down that holiday season on the day that the temperatures dropped and teeny snowflakes coated the palm-tree studded streets. People went crazy, there were brown-outs and car accidents, and people cursed the frigid -2 degree temperatures. To a little girl from Canada though - it was a miracle. That little girl keeps telling me to pray for it again this year if I want to see it so bad. London would look amazing with a white blanket of snow covering the busy streets and gorgeous parks...
I absolutely love the Christmas season. It has such warm memories (as does much of my childhood) of snowy days, skidoing, hot chocolate, Christmas cookies and carols playing over the stereo. I remember coming home from school to the smell of baking and my mother humming along with Bing Crosby as she pulled things out of the oven.
The first Christmas I spent away from home was 3 months after I moved out. I was living in London, Ontario and had just started a job with the Call Center, which was open every day of the year with no exceptions. There were so many people who had been there longer than me that i had no chance of getting enough time off to go North for Christmas. I had friends in town, but they were all going home, so I was alone on December 25th.
I was pretty homesick during that time, but tried my best to make up for it. Dinner was crab legs and a nice bottle of wine, followed by rasperry cheesecake. mmmm
When I finally did travel home that Christmas, it was a little strange not going to Christmas Eve Mass, but all of those warm feelings were still there. That was when I realized that as long as you're with your loved ones that it doesn't matter if you have to celebrate a few days later.
Unfortunately, I'll be off by a lot more than a few days this year. Getting through being alone that first Christmas means that I can anticipate the bittersweet feeling that this year's holiday season will bring.
The last few Christmases have beeen a flurry of driving and visits with both my family and Jeremy's family. The schedule is always the same: we drive to his aunt and uncle's place in Port Colborne, Ontario for Christmas Eve, eating an incredible Christmas dinner, having a few drinks, and lots of great conversation with music playing in the background. Once all of the vistors had left, some of us would jump into the hot tub for some champagne and nice soak.
The first year I spent with his family on Christmas Eve, they mad me open the champagne. The cork flew up into the starry sky and landed somewhere in the snow. We sipped the champagne and talked about how much fun the night was and how excited the kids would be the next morning. I was missing our family's traditions a lot that night, but couldn't help but enjoy the time with his family. They make me feel so welcome and cared-for (even that first year we were together) that it's impossible not to have a wonderful time with them. That and the fact that they're all friendly, funny, wonderful people who know how to have a good time.
Christmas morning is a flurry of opening stockings and presents, laughing and hugging over the things that people get each other, then a delicious breakfast before Jeremy and I get into the car for the long drive to Sudbury.
That first year, I was surprised to find out how much I enjoyed driving on Christmas Day. There is very little traffic on the highways (though more than I'd expected), so it's a pretty easy drive. Since I love Christmas music, it doesn't bother me that every station is playing it from Toronto all the way to Sudbury.
We usually get home around 4pm on Christmas Day, carrying overstuffed bags and presents into my parent's house, taking a deep breath of yet another incredible turkey dinner. (Since our families make such different turkey dinners, we have no problem at all having it two days in a row. Even if they were exactly the same, I don't think it would bother me...)
Then it's a movie or games of Euchre with my parents as Crosby and Sinatra and Elvis and all sorts of others sing about being home for the holidays, silent nights, and white christmases. All of those old songs will remind me forever of being home for Christmas with my family.
In bed at the end of the night (after sneaking a teeny piece of still-warm stuffing from the fridge), I lie there thinking about the last few days and feel thankful for the fact that we have two amazing families who care about us and will always be there.
Yep, this year will be different.
We'll be missing home and our families and all of those wonderful memories will be a little painful for (hopefully) the only time in our lives. I'll go to Christmas Eve mass at the church nearby and listen to the choir sing songs that I've heard all of my life. And I'll be sad because I'm alone.
But we'll see the tree lit in Trafalgar Square, listen to carol-singers as they move through the streets of London, see the lights on Oxford street and other places around the city, buy ourselves some Ferrero Roche chocolates (our favourite) and have a nice dinner in one of the pubs in the City (if there are any open - I've heard that all of England shuts down for at least a week). There will be lots of phone calls overseas, and I'm sure a few tears because we're all missing each other. I'll try my best to make the best of things and make sure that Jeremy and I have a Merry Christmas in our little flat in London.
and I'll be praying for snow...