Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All the Bells and Mistletoes

Another sign of getting older is the rapid movement of time. It seems like Christmas just happened, and here it is again. I haven't really gotten over my ba-humbugness - A simple trip to the mall two days before Christmas would knock the wind out of Saint Nick himself - but I'm kind of excited. We're doing it our way.

Natasha is making dinner this year. (Now we're talking.) We decided that we'd stop trying to cram 15 visits into one day, so we're hunkering down at home this December 25th. We'll sleep in and then spend the day with our DIY family: Nick and Natasha. Outside of our own kin, these two are our chosen family. And our bond, really, comes down to such animalistic qualities: we laugh, we love, we fart. It's so easy and beautiful to share a week or a day or a dinner with our Flubs and Tubs. I can't wait. (Expect detailed bloggery on her meal: it includes scalloped potatoes and reverse black forest cake. Whaa?!) Then we'll travel about the province, enjoying our time with all the ones we love. No pressure, no rush, just quality time spent.

But the one thing that can always forcibly extract my Christmas Spirit is gift-wrapping. This year's base materials are from Ikea. Adorable little gnome-elves stamped on standard-issue brown craft paper and an orangey-red solid. I always, always, wrap presents in brown craft paper, so this was right up my alley. So sweet and classic. And adaptable.

I like the simplicity of craft paper, because adorning my wrapped parcels in all sorts of little baubles is easy and it makes my heart swell.

I have no idea where it originates, but shiny red apples have always been a part of my Christmases. Ornaments (or bowls full of them) were always scattered about my Grandma's house in December. As a child, they felt autumnal, but also downright holiday. Inexplicably, my heart began to flutter when those lacquered red apples showed up in her seemingly-sprawling Victorian. Her house was magical year-round (Where else could you eat Jell-O for dinner?) but the weeks leading up to Christmas were something else altogether.

My Grandma is a lady who likes a tradition. December 1st means she can finally string garland across doorways, silver and sparkling. She can, unashamed, erect a small white tree in her dining room and a full-size green spruce in the living room. Suddenly, filling bowls with green and red M&M's seems appropriate and After Eight mints replace daily vitamins. Bowls of pine-scented potpourri spring up in every bathroom and her oven is at-the-ready, pre-heated and awaiting pie. Unabashedly she'll strap on a pair of reindeer earrings and trot off to the mall. She just seems so blissful this time of year.

My cynicism recedes when I think of back to my Grandma and her adorable little cardinals, pinecones and jingling bells: they went as far as the eye could see. Layers of bows and twine made her gifts difficult to open, but worth it, her eyes glimmering and proud as she watched you anticipate the treasures inside.


  1. I love your grand-ma-ma, and I don't even know her. Cheers to fond Christmas memories and to doing it your own way.

    That wrapping paper is perfection.

  2. A) I love the term "DIY Family" B) I love the attention to all the details (tradition, really) you outlined. Brings back sights and smells even of visits to the home my great aunts shared.