Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Whoa Now!

Long time, no post.

Sorry, gentle readers. It's the old excuse: been too busy.

Anyway, we're all through the rush of holidays now, so I'm back to writing, at least for the moment.

It's been crazy. The entire Christmas season has become an insane parody of what it was. The day was supposed to be a religious celebration of the birth of Christ, and all that represents. What exactly is it now?

When I was a child, we did put up lights on our house, decorate a tree and gifts magically appeared under said tree, via Santa Klaus, Dasher, Dancer, etc.

But on the Eve, we also went to Midnight Mass, after making the night before as hallowed as the big day itself, by consuming a meatless dinner (usually perogies, sometimes with fish) with family gathered near, inviting a stranger to share the meal (part of the Polish tradition of Christmas Eve), always topped off by slogging to Mass through the bitter Winnipeg winter night, where we held candles aloft, sang religious carols and nodded and stifled yawns side-by-side with our neighbors.

I remember clearly the delicious feeling of finally falling into my warm bed, and drifting quickly to sleep with the anticipation of more to come. I'd wake with the sense that something momentous had happened. And by that, I don't mean the arrival of the gifts.

Christmas day meant more eating, glorious piles of homemade delicacies, and spending time with family. We never went shopping on Boxing Day, but often gathered at the homes of families and friends for Open House, a tradition I've noticed that's also gone the way of the Dodo bird. Open Houses now occur Pre-Christmas, sometimes weeks in advance, because the holidays have somehow become a month-long orgy of eating, celebrating, consuming and drinking.

Nowadays, Boxing Day is relegated to the status of just another day to buy crap, to the chore of lining up in the pre-dawn freezing cold in front of Best Buy, hoping to nab some fricking electronic device on sale, the likes of which will inevitably break down within a year or so. You take your kids to this activity, of course. They have to learn all about tradition, after all.

How empty and shallow it seems, so pale in comparison to the rich, meaningful memories I carry.

I have tried to keep the traditions going with my children. In the month preceding Christmas, I bake and bake and bake, a necessary activity. The baking must age, you know. I hide it in nooks and crannies, away from thieving fingers, so that by Christmas, the shortbread is perfect in its lightness and flaky, buttery taste, the flavour of the Nanaimo Squares is blended to the maximum potential, and the lemon raisin slice is...gone. I can never hide that one well enough :)

We keep meatless Christmas Eve, with some family or friends present at the table. I haven't attended Midnight Mass in years, but did raise my kids in the church, attending the Children's Mass at 5pm on Christmas Eve for many years, until my son started asserting his Atheism (so he calls it).

Christmas morning is a gift-unwrapping debacle, growing in volume with every year it seems, as I continue to prosper and increase my (er...I mean Santa's) gift-giving capacity.

I've never stood in a Boxing Day lineup.

Well, the best I can hope, I suppose, is that my children will think of their childhood Christmases with the same fondness as I do of mine. Will their memories seem as rich as mine do?

Maybe I'll hold an Open House on Boxing Day next year. Just to screw up my friends' shopping plans.


  1. What a nice post! I hate to admit it, but I have stood in a Boxing Day line-up. Did it for a couple of years, gave my head a shake, and now deliberately try to avoid the malls. Ugh.

  2. Jen this is excellent! It means you can come to Open House next year! :)

  3. Ok. We have a date then, for next Boxing Day. I can't wait!