I think I’ve mentioned before that our family has perfected Christmas. We are all very, very good at it. I’m sure you’ve got it just right for your family too, but around here how lovely it all is has so much to do with the way that our family is big on tradition. We can all count on all the important things happening in all the same ways, every year, and that ritual holds the season together for us all.
Christmas eve we eat, we sing carols – we gather with Joe’s family and Joe’s mum makes egg nog so thick that it’s more of a pudding than a drink.
We walk home in the dark and the cold, looking at the lights everywhere – then put our stockings out. They go exactly in order on the couch, and nobody ever, ever tries to put them another way. The next morning the kids (adults now) wake the parents, and Joe and I go downstairs and wake Ken (he always spends the night on the chesterfield.) We make coffee, and put on the kettle, and the girls sit on the top step, waiting to hear the music that means it’s time to come rushing down. (It cracks me up that these mostly grown up ladies still do that. It’s like they don’t want it to change.)
(The ladies all got feather boas this year.)
After presents, The ladies make us breakfast. They’re really good cooks, the lot of them, and they churn out a wicked Eggs Benedict. After that, it’s bath time- and then off we all go to Christmas Dinner.
There is always a fire, friends and food. Hank dressed as Michael Jackson is new.
There are Christmas Crackers.
We play games.
We roast chestnuts. (That was last night at home. It’s just in the stove and not over an open fire, but still very delicious.)
This Christmas we did all that, and some new things. Thing the first, we turned off our internet for two days. (This was regarded with skepticism by all… but turned out to be brilliant. Do you know what happens if you can’t google what year Bing Crosby died -right the second you want to know? NOTHING.) Thing the second, we accidentally somehow turned off the furnace Christmas Eve. It is believed that the culprit was Meg, who was actually trying to turn it up and something went wrong. We do not recommend this, although it does make a hot cup of coffee the best thing ever.
Thing the third: my brother Ian and I make the gravy every year. It is a complex process of alchemy, and it takes us a long time. Nobody else ever makes the gravy. It’s something that Ian and I do and that’s the way it is. Until this year, when Hank asked if he could help.
Ian taught him the ways of the whisk, and we told him that he was now an apprentice, and could expect to make gravy alone in about ten years, when he is a master. Hank took it all very, very seriously, and I don’t know why but it was one of my favourite things about this year. It is the traditions and the rituals that anchor the season for our family, and to see Hank starting to care and to want the same things… On Christmas Eve, Joe’s dad has always hunted his five granddaughters and convinced them to sing carols with him. I know that there have been years when we’ve pushed them a little, asked them to take part. Reminded them that their grampa likes it. This year, they wanted to sing- even initiated the singing, and it was like Hank wanting to make the gravy. It’s not about the singing or the gravy. It’s about watching them come to value the whole thing, and like watching them agree that their families are important, and if you’ve raised a bunch of teenagers (or a ten year old dressed like Michael Jackson, for that matter) watching them want to do things the way they’ve always done things, even if they could do anything they want now? Pretty nice, and a very Merry Christmas.
Tomorrow, lots of knitting stuff. Was your holiday wonderful?