Tag Archives: Christmas tree

Only Child Christmases Past and Present

Many of us have rituals on Christmas Day and I am no exception. Except my rituals have changed. When I was a child, after Mom woke me up, she, Dad and I had breakfast. Then I was allowed to look in and empty my stockings. Presents under the tree had to wait a bit. Mom, Dad and I headed to church first, often suffering through the pastor’s long, long sermon. Afterwards we  walked home.

And then we “attacked” the presents. Previously a few days before, Mom and I had wrapped each other’s presents and Dad’s – with her in the kitchen and me in the dining room and the door between firmly shut. Until she needed more paper or scotch tape. She would give fair warning though so I could cover up the unwrapped presents. But on Christmas Day it was usually me who crawled over to and under the tree for the presents and handed them out. Of course I was doing this to try and figure out what was in the wrapped gifts and looking for that doll or other toy I had asked Santa for. My mother had a habit of hiding any unwrapped toy and bringing it in while we were opening the presents. So I got my doll.

Afterwards we relaxed  – sort of. I played with my doll or any other new toy and mother went to prepare the bird for dinner. I say “bird” because it often was not a turkey. Sometimes it was chicken, or a duck, or a goose, but no matter it all tasted good.

Fast forward many, many, many years to now (and also a few years ago). Like my parents before me, I have one child (got to repeat history here, you know), Martin, who is well beyond being a child. So, yesterday he and his girlfriend, Juni, came bearing presents, a bottle of white wine and a container of juice (the latter for Martin as he was driving). I had snacks out on the coffee table and so we dug in to presents and food. At some point I had to get into the kitchen to prepare the bird and put it into the oven. Not a turkey – I’m allergic to turkey  – so chicken, along with baked potatoes, yams, and  a salad.

We stuffed ourselves so much none of us had room for the apple raspberry crisp I had baked the day before, so I sent some home with Martin and Juni.  After they left, I called a friend to wish her a Merry Christmas and thank her for her present, watched a Christmas movie on TV and during the commercials did the dishes.

But I forgot one more present and I didn’t discover it until after midnight. It was hiding under the Christmas tree, or rather under the end table where my tiny fake tree sits. I blame missing it on the cloth bag it is in  –  burgundy – same colour as the velvet cloth right under that tree. The present is for Juni (note: she had others from me). So this week I will have to restart my Santa Claus sleigh and deliver the present to Juni. Translation: I will take public transit and deliver the present to Juni. And hope no wandering reindeer are running around en route, although obviously Christmas Day we could have used Rudolph and his glowing red nose to find the present. Or maybe not – red is close to burgundy in colour and that mini-tree has all red lights and they didn’t help.

So  on this note, I will stop this rambling and wish everybody a happy and peaceful holiday season.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Christmas tree, Family and Friends, Mom and Dad, Only child

Only Child’s meaning of Christmas

The Christmas tree decorated brings Christmas joy to Only Child

The Christmas tree decorated brings Christmas joy to Only Child

Christmas means different things to different people. To show what Christmas means to me, I’m going to take you back to last December 2013. Close your eyes and remember.

Early morning December 22, 2013, the lights, the furnace, the fridge, the freezer, the heat suddenly went off. Ice pelted down on southern Ontario and Toronto was badly hit including many fallen trees on power lines. Toronto lost about one-third of its tree canopy. It was like the wrath of God was unleashed full force and we were being punished.

The boarder and her cat (still living with me then) and I were stuck. We had water, including hot water because that is a separate utility here and the hot water heat is gas-run. So is the furnace but years ago turning on the gas furnace switched to an electric-turn on.

Mid-day Sunday, my son Martin phoned. He still had power; so did downtown Toronto. He wanted to put us up at a downtown hotel. We resisted at first – partly because of the boarder waffling and partly because I was worried about leaving the house. He gave me advice about removing the ice from the veranda and driveway (put down salt and a couple of hours later go out with a shovel and hack away/shovel it). I did that.

Next day, the Monday, the phone woke me up (a land line, my life line then). Martin again insisting we had to go into a hotel downtown because the temperature was plummeting later in the day. The room included the boarder and her cat. So, after talking to some of my friends on the block and elsewhere, I got the house situation straightened out (except for no power and no heat, so I left a tap in the laundry room on dripping).

We took a taxi to the hotel and Martin met us there. He got us checked in and helped me set up my laptop with the hotel’s Internet while the boarder fed her cat. Then Martin took us out for dinner at Fran’s Restaurant and left me with a Starbucks gift certificate for hot chocolate for the boarder and me. Much later after Martin returned home, he phoned me at the hotel. Tanya, my friend next door had just texted him that the power had just gone back on. I called Tanya.

We stayed in the hotel for the two days booked. Christmas around noon, Martin in a leased car arrived, paid for our stay,  and drove us back home. That wasn’t all – he brought Christmas dinner – ham, potatoes, cream cheese, rosemary and cooked it. I supplied green beans and the dishes.

Looking back, I realize this is the true meaning of Christmas. Friends and family helping each other and celebrating Christmas together. To me, that includes taking time through the year to get small but useful presents for those close to me. I do it bit by bit when on holidays and afterwards. The only mall part was going to the Hudson Bay Company – but in a smaller mall and I focused on the department and the person I was buying for. To me Christmas is not about playing shopaholics at the mallChristmas is not about sitting in a church for Christmas services. You might say my take on Christmas is secular/spiritual, but definitely not religious. My Christmas spirit is (no, not in a bottle, although I like the occasional glass of wine) connected to family and friends, and helping others when and where I can. My Christmas spirit is listening to Christmas songs – secular and religious – it’s the music I like, watching Christmas movies – old and new – on TV, looking at decorated Christmas trees and decorating my two foot high artificial tree,  and walking around outside looking at the Christmas lights. May not be able to do that this year either as according to weather forecasts we are supposed to get very high winds with rain. Not happy about that and I’ve told God what I think about that and what is the right thing to do.

That’s my Christmas story and I’m sticking to it.

Happy holiday to all. And may it be safe, especially from bad and extreme weather.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Christmas, Christmas spirit, Extreme Weather, Hydro power outage, Sharon A. Crawford, Toronto

Only Child prepares for Christmas

Only Child's vision of the Christmas tree

Only Child’s vision of the Christmas tree

Ho Ho Ho or is it a little of Bah Humbug as I go round and round on the Christmas merry-go-round. Gee, it was so much simpler when I was a kid (back in the grey ages, of course). Probably because Mom and Dad had all the responsibility and I just had to enjoy it all while providing a little help. I posted the below excerpt from my memoir last year about the Christmas tree, but I think it is worth posting again – because it brings back the awe of Christmas, which we often forget in the mad Christmas rush.

When Dad drags the Christmas tree into the house, I inhale the pine fragrance. It fills me with anticipation made longer and harder to hold inside as Dad attempts to fit the tree trunk into the stand.

I can’t watch the agony, so after Mom and I haul up the boxes of lights and ornaments from the basement, I sit in the kitchen and listen to the wall clock tick away time. I hear “Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,” but it is only the green radio. I poke my head inside the living room.

“Is it ready yet?”

“Patience,” Mom says, handing Dad a screwdriver.

“It’s coming along.” He twists the red tree stand. “Okay, Julia, let’s push it up.”

And my parents heave the tree up to its majestic six feet, spreading dark green bristles in the corner by the archway and just brushing the mantle. Finally. I crouch down and dig into the box of ornaments.

“Wait a minute,” Mom says. “The lights come first.”

And she and Dad twine the lights throughout the tree and I hold my breath one-two-three until I think I’ll pop, as Dad plugs in the lights and . . .

Nothing. One light has burned out and the only way to find the culprit is to remove each light, one at a time, and try a light that you hope might work. It is worse than waiting for Santa Claus. But when the miracle occurs, when the lights shine red, blue, white, yellow and green, throughout the tree, Christmas leaps days closer. Mom and I tackle the ornaments. I’m like a dog given the “yes,” for a walk, prancing around, reaching my paws down and up, and placing big coloured balls, small bells, and white plastic icicles on the sharp branches. Mom and I wrap tinsel – thin wavy light and big gold, which almost hides the lights, but they sparkle through. Then, I suck in my breath and look way up while Mom stands on the stepladder and places the angel in the top spot. (Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2012 Sharon A. Crawford).

Today, I have a tiny (under two feet) fake tree that sits on an end table. It has LED red lights which I leave in their sockets year round when I pack it away plus a few miniature decorations. Putting up these and other Christmas decorations isn’t the big stressor.  Running all the errands, trying to get client work done, doing PR for my debut mystery short story collection  Beyond the Tripping Point, and rewriting my prequel mystery novel, sometimes make me feel like I’m on a runaway train. Of course there are all those Christmas parties and other socials (which I like) and wrapping Christmas presents and signing, addressing, etc  the few Christmas cards I still do (both of which I don’t like doing  – when my son was growing up he wrapped all the Christmas presents except for his. Not child labour. Martin just wrapped presents much better than my messy job of it). I prefer to buy the presents to fit the receiver and then opening my own presents.

Then there are all those unplanned added “happenings” to mess up your days – such as computer problems, transit delays, sometimes weather, and annoying sales people on the phone or at the door. A few minutes ago I just rudely sent one on her unmerry way – she deserved it after trying to get into my house to check my water heater…and she isn’t even from the utility company I rent my water heater from.

So, I gave the clients notice last week that I’m taking a three-week break from client work to do some rewriting of my novel, spend time with family and friends, and yes, to do some book PR. It’s either that or find my own rabbit hole or bum a lift on Santa’s sleigh back to the North Pole. Probably not the latter – I hate winter weather.

How do you deal with the Christmas rush?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Christmas holidays, Christmas spirit, Christmas stress, Christmas tree, Clients, Memoir content, Mom and Dad, Only child, Santa Claus, Sharon A. Crawford