Uncle Tupper

(As an aside…I can hear you all thinking “Tupper”? The Canadians might have a hint where the name comes from, for the rest of you here’s a hint, his full name is Charles Tupper McPhee.)

So my Uncle Tupper is my Mum’s brother and absolutely one of my favourite relatives. He’s a restoration/carpenter cool building guy now, but when I was a teenager he was an artist and a runabout. Back then, there were times when I didn’t know his address, only what province he was in. This sort of bad-boy “I’m so cool I don’t have to even tell you where I’m at” thing captivated me. Family Legend has it that he came to live in BC because he got loaded and his buddies tossed him on a plane. Woke up in BC with no cash to get home, so he lived there. One time he came to take me to his farmhouse (he wasn’t a farmer) and we stopped and rented a tv on the way there. He let me watch the Miss Universe Pagent, something that would have appalled my feminist/activist mother. See that? Flying in the face of authority. Can you believe it? My mother was the highest force in the universe and he didn’t care. I watched tv late at night AND it was degrading to women. We ate crap too. He did it and he lived to tell about it. At the time I thought that this was so brave that I can scarcely tell you of it. I thought my Mother would cut him out of our lives, maim him, write his name in the black book of doom…something horrible. Now that I’m a mother I know that she was just grateful that he took me away for the weekend. The morning after the TV we went walking in the fields. There was a thick fog over the farm and we were walking through it hearing cowbells – but seeing no cows, it was impossibly mystic and weird and I still remember it vividly.

If it weren’t for Tupp I wouldn’t have bothered to be a painter for as long as I was and I certainly wouldn’t have such a profound (and yet useless) education in Fine Arts. (What? I can’t be the only one who thought that Art History was going to pay off.)

Why is this all relevant? Why should any of you care who Tupper is? Today, The McPhee Clan celebrates Christmas (Again. We have real stamina.) There will be drink, there will be dancing…there will be a rare and awesome visit with Tupper….

And he will get one mitten.


I realized last night at 2:30 that I wasn’t going to make it. (No kidding? Really Steph? Seriously? You had one stinking mitten at 2:30 and that’s when you figured that even though the first one took you 10 hours, 2:30 was when you realized that you couldn’t knit another one before dawn?) Every year somebody gets the shaft. I knit and knit and warp the time space continuum and (last night marks the 15th night in a row that I have had no more that 5 hours of sleep) and totally lose my cool and pull what Tupper would call “A Kathleen”. Kathleen was my grandmother, famous for her berserk Christmas enthusiasm. She liked things to be “right” and despite never being particularly enamoured with housework or cooking was often found baking and polishing silver in the dead of night in the days preceding Christmas. (It is only because she did not knit that this was the focus of this energy) Tupp and Mum feel that I channel Kathleen every Christmas, and it does not endear me to them, but rather makes them sort of shudder a little as they flashback to 2am festive insanity from the Christmases of their childhoods. (Apparently the part where I scream “Are you trying to ruin Christmas!” when someone suggests that perhaps the happiness of the entire family does not hinge on my ability to flawlessly iron a tablecloth in the dead of night is particularly reminiscent of the Christmases of their salad days)

Despite my hysteria, sleep deprivation and screech (both of the alcoholic and vocal variety) Tupper is this years unfinished knitting victim. I tried to keep it from him, but now he knows. Not only did I pull a Kathleen….I didn’t even get it right.

On the upside…this last minute defeat means that I haven’t slipped at all. Tupp’s the only one getting a gift on the needles.

Party on.