My daughter-in-law is a big fan of Christmas. No, that’s putting it mildly. In fact, it’s such an understatement that it’s very nearly a lie; she loves Christmas and all things Christmasy. And so do I. The only reason Christmas lights weren’t twinkling in the cedar hedge along the driveway in late October is that I’d rather not have the neighbours wondering about my sanity.
Obviously there have to be limits. I find it more than a little irritating to come upon Christmas decorations displayed one aisle over from Halloween costumes and loudly moaning animated Grim Reapers, especially in late September. (I love Christmas, not the commercialism that has attached itself to the holiday over the past century; I sometimes suspect the people who hope to make buckets of money selling all things Christmasy would love to kick things off around Labour Day. Or Canada Day.) And of course, you can’t really start thinking about putting up Christmas lights until after Remembrance Day. On the other hand, you can’t leave it too late—I get grumpy trying to string lights in the cedar hedge with frozen fingers—but the mere fact that the lights are there doesn’t mean they must be illuminated so that they can cast their warm glow over the property on a dark evening, to greet and welcome me as I drive up the street towards home after a long day. So the lights had to wait—until the night I came home to find that someone else on my street couldn’t wait any longer.
As for the interior of the house, the tree—always a real one—can’t be put up and decorated until about a third of the way through December if it’s to last until January 6 (Epiphany), which, of course, it must. If not a few days longer. But if we chose to put up the indoor lights a bit early, the ones on the mantle and the stairs, well, the neighbours weren’t going to notice, were they? So I told my daughter-in-law that as soon as Remembrance Day had come and gone, she was free to go Christmas crazy.
Last year, I told you about having—foolishly—commented to someone that Christmas should never change; it should be the same every year. I was dreading the first Christmas without Mum. But as I worked on this letter last year, I realized that as long as we were all together as a family, Christmas really couldn’t help but be Christmas. And I was right. We missed Mum and Dad, but as I had hoped, I could feel them there. Christmas Eve, on the other hand, was very different from any that preceded it: I spent it with my sons and their families at the older son’s house, and anyone who knows me will tell you that spending Christmas anywhere but at home is a thing I simply don’t do. But I did, and it was wonderful.
This year will be a bit different, too. Some people who should be there won’t be able to be there, and in fact, the whole question of who will be where when is a bit up in the air. But on Christmas Day, all those who can will be together, and we’ll be thinking of those who couldn’t make it.
Wherever you celebrate it and however you spend it, may your Christmas be blessed and the holiday season a happy one.