December 27, 2006

Third of Twelve

Sounds like a Borg name, doesn't it? It's the third of the twelve days of Christmas and, in true McPhee style this family is ripping through them with verve, enthusiasm and noise. Christmas Eve was with Joe's family, where I only missed finishing two knitted gifts. (I blame the flu. I totally would have finished everything if I didn't need to waste all that time sneezing, sleeping and coughing. ) I'm making good time now though, and Chris' Irish hiking scarf with random stripes. (Totally inspired by Sandy) is finished now.


Pattern: Irish Hiking Scarf, Yarn: about 3.5 balls of Knit Picks "Wool of the Andes." in fern, pumpkin and cloud. (If I had it to do again, I might use 4.5)

The socks for Joe's mother are not done either, though this is the stuff that so many of you asked about in the last post.


It's Socks that Rock - mediumweight in "Pink Granite" (love this colourway) and the pattern is also from Blue Moon "Rock and Weave". I'm especially fond of how very different the yarn looks worked back and forth in linen stitch, and how it looks worked in the round for the foot.


Charming...non? (It is only this simple amusement that has led me to knit this not only twice, but twice without changing a thing. A rare honour.)
Christmas day we whipped through a wonderful morning, a delightful afternoon and a festive evening, gathered with just the immediate McPhees. Erin got her Kitri socks...


Although I did finish them right there in front of her, and it almost broke me to give them to her. I love these socks. Love them. I was so nervous about all the beading, but it turns out that it's totally easy and beautiful. I'm thinking about beading everything from socks to the family pet.


There were oysters. There was merriment, there were wonderful, thoughtful gifts exchanged and savoured, and a good time was had by all. On the second day of Christmas (which is really the one I want to tell you about) we went to see my Great Aunt Helen, and My Great Uncle Don.


This is a Boxing Day tradition. I have been to Helen and Don's on December 26th every single year of my life. My kids have gone every single Boxing Day of their life. Going to Helen and Don's on Boxing day is what our family refers to as a "Command Performance". (Does your family have any of those? Days or functions which you cannot miss?) The only excuse for not attending a Command Performance is that you are dead, you are on fire....or now, as Helen and Don become more fragile, that you have a cold or something that you may pass on to them...see, Helen and Don are old. (They are also the owners of Cricket, the perpetual dog, but that's a story for another day.)


Every year someone wonders out loud on the way to their house, how old Helen and Don really are. We don't know for sure, anyone that would know for sure is dead, and if you ask Helen how old she is then she tells you it's a State Secret. We've been trying to piece it together for years.


Helen and Don were married at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto in 1951. (For Torontonians, this would be before the Eatons Centre sprang up around it.) Helen has always maintained that the reason they have no children was that she married too late and was too old to have children. Couldn't do it. For the purposes of argument, let's call that...what? Forty? Forty years of age when she married, fifty-five years of a minimum, that puts Helen at ninety years of age. Don's a little younger than she, but not by much. They still live alone, still cook and care for each other, still walk the dog several times a day and still know the exact nature and whereabouts of every neighbour on the street where they still live in the house my Great-great grandfather built in Lawrence Park North.
Helen doesn't see too well anymore. (Although I peeked in the knitting basket by the chair and saw that it looks like she's still turning out mittens by feel and memory) and Don doesn't hear too well at all....but together they get by alright, and they still care for each other in the most lovely way. (About five years ago Don took the time during our visit to show us all pictures of Helen in the bath...just to make sure we all understood that she was still a woman of profound beauty.) Helen still kisses you so hard it hurts, Don gets Cricket the perpetual dog to do the same tricks for my little nephew Hank that he did for me when I was little. The food they put out for us to eat should have the same "approach with caution" sign on it that it had when I was four, and Don still urges us all to eat it. (We still put it in our purses when they aren't looking.)


In the thirty-eight boxing days that I have visited my Great Aunt Helen and My Uncle Don, only three things have changed.

1. At the end of the visit, my children receive $10 instead of the $1 that I got when I was little.

2. Five years ago they got a new chesterfield.

3. Finally, after being the legal drinking age for nineteen years... and in a stunning departure from way things usually work....
Yesterday? My Uncle Don offered me a beer instead of pop.
I took it.

(My sister Erin, the legal drinking age for 14 years, still got to choose between Ginger Ale and Sprite. She's hoping that next year she may be old enough for tea. Cross your fingers for her. )

I love Don and Helen.

Posted by Stephanie at December 27, 2006 3:20 PM