Friday, 23 December 2016

It's Almost Christmas.... Yay?

The missus does do up a lovely tree.
For some reason, getting hepped up for Christmas this year has been a bit of a struggle. I'm not sure why exactly. It's been a rough old year for the world, but that's part of life, I think. Is it worse than any other year? It's definitely scary and quite often depressing. Heck, the Blue Jays didn't make it to the World Series again!! Mind you, on the positive side, they made the playoffs again. So ups and downs.

I think part of my gloomier than normal outlook is because I spent so much more time than I normally do watching the News, especially that US election that just took place. I think the results, yes, the election of @%*#! Trump, has taken the wind out of my sails a bit. I mean, I don't normally want to go and punch somebody in the face. It's not my nature. But I sure wouldn't mind taking a shot at his smug, fat, arrogant, lying, cheating face!! Well, I think I've figured it out a bit, eh? Maybe that's what's getting me down a bit. OK, OK, deep healing breaths...

Family times
Christmas has always meant a lot to me. As a very small boy, it meant heaps of presents! My parents always made sure we had a lovely tree and lots and lots of presents under it. My first memories of Christmas (and they may be coloured by the fact that I was very young) are two things.

Me with my drum playing elephant
I was only 5 years old when we left Bagotville, Quebec, and the fact that I remember these things from there might be somewhat distorted by age. Anyway, with that qualification behind me, my first memory is from Bagotville. My older brother, Rick, and I shared a bedroom. He had the double bed in the middle and I had the single against the wall. At the head of my bed one Christmas was a small chair with my stocking hanging from it. I remember my Mom coming to tuck me in and singing You Are My Sunshine (I was a cute kid) and then leaving. The next time I rolled over and looked at my stocking, it was full!!! I knew it! Santa had been there while she distracted me! Yes, yes, yes! Of course, I didn't check it out until I woke up in the morning.. Well, maybe I did.

The second memory is very vague. I'm sure we went to midnight mass in Bagotville. I can remember the smell of incense in the church. When we got home, we were all hungry all of a sudden. (I link that with the smell of incense). My Mom and Dad made us toast and melted butter and hot chocolate before we went to bed. Yummy. I don't remember much else about Christmas time there but those do stand out.

The latest addition to the family enjoying Christmas cheer
By the time we moved down East to Chatham, New Brunswick, my thoughts of Christmas are more complete. We now lived in a bigger house, although Rick and I still shared a room for the longest time. We had bunk beds. When John came along, Rick was gone to university, so I had the bunk bed to myself and John still slept in the crib.

Back to Bagotville (I don't have as many pictures as I thought. lol)
I tended to be the first person awake Christmas morning. (I did say I liked getting presents!). To bide the time until everybody woke up and we could go downstairs to see what was under the tree, I would go through my stocking. There were always comic books inside, sometimes just one, sometimes too. There was usually a mandarin orange, candy canes, a small toy and other sundry gifts and chocolates that would fit inside. I'd read my comic(s) then lie their impatiently waiting for everyone to get up.

With the arrival of John, I hoped that he, being just a baby, would wake up early and get everybody else up. But, nope, John was a bit of a slug and liked to sleep in. *sigh* So there you go, I would have to lie their waiting for somebody else to get up and then we'd troop downstairs to see what great gifts we got! Anticipation!!!

Our current Christmas wreath on the front door.
Well, I have to admit now, after all these years, that I did snoop to see what my parents got us for Xmas. They tended to hide lots of the prezzies under their bed. So any time I got to myself, I'd sneak into their room and check under the bed. You might think that would ruin any anticipation. But, not really, because they were just teasers and there were always surprises under the tree come Christmas day. When it comes to presents, I do fondly remember John and I getting GI Joes (yes we played with dolls) and there were always new games to play and especially there were books. That's partly where my love of reading comes from. We were always encouraged to read. I got Tom Sawyer and Black Beauty for Christmas plus so many other books.

Christmas visitors - Jim Nabeta in Germany
It seems we often had company over for Christmas. In Chatham, Mr. MacMillan, a single guy and a friend of my Dad's, used to come over in the afternoon and spend Christmas day with us. He and Dad would have a couple of whiskeys, Tom would stay and share dinner and we'd play games and watch the TV. In Germany, their friend and our alternate Dad (sort of, in a jokey way), Jim Nabeta would always come over for the day and maybe even the night before and share our Christmas with us. It made the day a bit more special.

Once everything was opened and we'd played with our toys for awhile, the day was a restful one. I don't remember going to my friends' houses to play as they were all sharing their day with their families. That was more of a Boxing Day and Christmas holiday thing. We also lived quite far from any relatives; they were in Ontario and we were either in Quebec, New Brunswick and Germany so we weren't going to spend the day with them. Once I was married, then we'd gather the kids up and either spend Christmas with my folks or my ex-wife's folks and then trek to the other family for New Years.

After dinner, it was a lazy relaxing time. I have a memory of me and Christine (my older sister) in the kitchen tearing apart the turkey and eating a bit more as part of our post-dinner clean up. TV wasn't really great down in the Maritimes and, unlike now, when Jo and I like to relax and find the Christmas Day specials on BBC TV while we laze around in our pyjamas, I don't have any special memories as a kid of spending the day watching TV. It was more about playing games and with our toys and reading. Still lots of fun, mind you.

As I got older, while I still enjoyed receiving gifts, I started to enjoy buying gifts for my family even more. I'm a bit of a boring gift giver, especially now. I do like to force people to enjoy the books I like and if I'm at all unsure what to get someone, chances are it'll be a book. Jo is always thrilled (I say that sarcastically) to see that most of her gifts are books; design books, biographies, colouring books, classics. Yup, she loves it. :0)

At university, when I lived in residence, one of the fun parts of the holiday was our Christmas party. The Don would dress up as Santa, everybody would get together in our big family room. We'd have music, get to sit on Santa's lap, and there was always so much food that the Entertainment committee would put together for our brunch. Then we'd gather around the piano and sing Christmas songs.

Ah, Christmas songs. I don't have particularly strong memories of many Christmas songs. When we opened our presents, there was usually Christmas music playing. I think the first or my favourite Christmas song as a child was The Royal Guardsman's Snoopy's Christmas. It was such a good song. Always gives me chills. When I was a cynical university student and DJ, I played songs like Jethro Tull's A Christmas Song.

I don't have a lot of favourite Christmas songs but I do enjoy Greg Lake's I Believe in Father Christmas, which is a lovely simple song. (Thanks Jo for introducing me to it). For a nice upbeat song, you've got The Waitresses and Christmas Wrapping.

I think my favourite Christmas show as a child was Charlie Brown's Christmas. *sigh* The poor little Christmas tree that turned into a beautiful tree with the help of Linus' blanket and love... For all my griping, Jo and I have our favourite shows to get into the Christmas mood; The Family Stone, It's a Wonderful Life, Holiday Inn and White Christmas, amongst others.

I always wanted to make sure my children had as good Christmases as I did growing up, especially after my divorce. I didn't want them to suffer because of a marriage break-up. They spent Christmas at both places until I moved out West. But even then, Jennifer has made it out here with one of her boyfriends. Oh, funny Christmas story. If I don't tell, Jennifer will. I told both her and Caitlin to list any CD's they might want for Christmas so that I wouldn't buy ones that they didn't want, of course. Caitlin was usually much more conservative, you know, just listing two or three. Jennifer liked to hedge her bets, I think, so she gave me a list with 10 or 12 CD's on it. So I bought number 10, just to surprise her. Of course, it only had one song on it that she liked; The Way by Fastball. Ah well, don't put it on a list if you really don't want it. ;0). I'll let her tell you about the 'poop' jacket if you ever see her.

Jo and Susan making Christmas dinner
Since I met and married Jo, we've had lovely Christmases. Jo's sister Susan came out for our first few Christmases in Comox and it was always a lovely, relaxing time. It was also especially nice in 2005 when I was away on a deployment to the Middle East over Christmas as that meant Jo had company at least for the Christmas holidays. It was a strange sort of Christmas for me, waking up in a barracks Christmas morning, listening to the mullah's calling the people for morning prayers. But, our unit tried to make it feel like Christmas. We had gift bags hanging from our doors to our rooms, there was a nice morning church service (it had been a very long time since I'd attended one of those and it was very nice) and then a fantastic Christmas dinner. I also managed to call home to Jo and got to hear her voice so that was especially nice.

Nikki took up present snooping from me
Our puppies have also always liked to share our Christmases with us. Nikki always like to sniff the presents to see if there might be something for her. Clyde likes nothing more than to tear up a bit of Christmas wrapping paper. And they do like a bit of turkey.

Ely, UK and the tree in the Cathedral. Just lovely
Jo and I have travelled a bit for Christmas in the past few years. We spent one lovely Christmas with Rob and Sue, Jo's sister and her husband, and visited the Cathedral in Ely while were there. It was lovely. (We also went to a very nice bookstore in Ely. Jo had tea and biscuits while I wandered around looking at books. What a perfect way to spend Christmas.) And we also went to Calgary to spend Christmas with Jenn, her then-boyfriend, Eric and his parent's) It was definitely a white Christmas there.

But, generally, we just like to spend Christmas with each other and our dogs, relax in our pyjamas and share our company. We usually start the morning opening our presents and having croissants as a morning snack. Then later on, Jo cooks us a fantastic turkey for our Christmas feast and, if we are at all peckish in the evening, we'll have toast and homemade pate. A perfect day. We manage to have a chat with my Dad, Jo's sister and Jennifer during the day. We also find the BBC on our laptop and enjoy the Christmas specials from England.

As I said at the start, Jo can decorate a tree.
So anyway, I started  this post with a bit of a rant and wondering if I have the Christmas spirit this year. Well, considering how poorly many people in the world are, I'm pretty lucky. I have a lovely wife and loving family. Jo and I are very happy together and we live nicely on my pension. Our puppies keep us busy and happy. All in all, I've got so much to be thankful for. I really don't have any right or reason to complain.

I wish you all the happiest holidays and a very Merry Christmas. Let's hope 2017 is a good year.


  1. I love you very much xxx
    and every Christmas with you is a happy one x


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