Christmas in Canada. It seems that many people dream of that Currier & Ives view of the holiday.
But is it just like the postcard vision, or something completely different? Do we all cherish that ideal, or do some of us wish for the sunny climes of Mexico, Florida or a walkabout in the land of ‘roos?
As a child I didn’t give it much thought…do children ever? I assumed that Christmas was just the way we celebrated it. I even thought the very first Christmas had snow and occurred during the shortest days of the year. Going to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, then returning to a late dinner of tourtière and eggnog seemed the perfect way to relax and fall asleep. I would have dreamt of sugar-plums, had I any idea what they were.
Christmas morning began by looking in our stockings (clean socks really) where we found candy, nuts and an orange. Sometimes there was a small toy, such as a yo-yo, tucked in as well.
Then the opening of presents. My grandmother always sent mittens, handknitted and warm, and I always liked them. There was usually a new pair of pyjamas and sometimes slippers to match. Our list to Santa had been long, with everything we wanted listed (one year I wrote mine in alphabetical order to make it easier for Santa), and although we never got everything on it, there were always one or two wished-for things hidden under the tree.
The turkey was already in the oven (it seemed they took longer to cook way back then) and by the time we ate some breakfast, the smell of it roasting filled the small apartment we lived in.
The rest of the day was spent playing with our new toys while our parents rested. It seems they were up late for some reason.
Then the big dinner, usually around three in the afternoon. After the cleanup was done we were free to pick at the leftovers or eat the candy or chocolates left from the morning.
By the time bedtime rolled around we were tired and felt as though we had really had enough candy anyway. Until tomorrow.
Was it the picture-perfect Christmas? No, more a toned-down version of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but it was with family and people we cared deeply about. And isn’t that what the season is really all about anyway?
And now that I am the grandmother, we still do it almost the same way, although this year I made the grandchildren hats. And they seemed to like them, they really did.