Christmas is about magic. I truly believe that the magic that is Christmas comes from the memories. Whether it be the memories you have from your childhood, from just last year, or the memories you’ll have next year because you’re making them right now. Good memories or bad memories can change how you look at Christmas. If you grew up having horrible Christmases, where your family fought every year, or for whatever reason your Christmases were crappy, that will often shape how you look at Christmas in general.
I was very fortunate to have wonderful memories of Christmas growing up. My Pepere (my maternal grandfather) was the most wonderful man ever to walk the earth. He was kind, gentle, loveable, and he loved his family so very much. I learned lessons from him like: “always think before you speak. You may just stop yourself from hurting someone else’s feelings.” He was a wonderful person and though we lost him way too early 19 years ago, I think about him every day. I especially think about him around this time of year, because of all things – Christmas was his favourite time of year. He loved having his family around him, loved having the tree decorated, watching everyone opening their gifts, eating Memere’s beans on Christmas Eve (which I still make every year) and making breakfast on Christmas morning. Eating so much through the day on Christmas Day that by the time Memere set the turkey down on the table at suppertime, we all faked it because no one was hungry. He made every Christmas magic. He passed his love of the holiday on to my Mom, and on to me.
My favourite Christmas memory while growing up was of him. The first 17 Christmases of my life were celebrated at “The Bush.” Sounds interesting I’m sure. For those that don’t know, many years ago, Pepere bought a 10 acre piece of land out in the country. He put on it a small cabin, meant for snowmobiling on the weekends. We went up there every weekend when I was a child. Memere and Pepere and I would go up early on Friday, and Mom and Dad came up later that evening. We would spend the weekend there. When I was about 5, Pepere winterized it and made it suitable for living all year round. They moved there. It was my second home growing up and I loved it there. They eventually started the business there, which grew, and grew, and about a year before Pepere passed away they moved from there to another place. But “The Bush” to me was always a symbol of my childhood.
Anyhow, I digress. Back to Christmas.
We would spend every Christmas at “The Bush.” Mom and Dad would usually sleep on the pullout couch in the main living room/open area in the shack. The wood burning stove was in that room so it was usually toasty. The Christmas tree was set up in there too. As a child, of course I was up before the sun on Christmas Day, waiting for everyone else to wake up. I would get up, come out from the bedrooms and sit in Pepere’s chair about 2 feet from my sleeping parents watching the clock in the kitchen waiting for everyone to wake up, eying my loot under the tree.
Pepere was an early riser. Usually up between 5 and 5:30 every morning. Christmas morning was no exception. He would come out from the bedrooms, and walk past me sitting in the chair and pat me on the head. He didn’t even look down, he knew I’d be sitting there, waiting expectantly. He’d chuckle a little as he patted my head, and keep on going, heading for the bathroom.
To anyone else, they might think “that’s your favourite Christmas memory??” Yes, it is. That pat on the head showed me he got it. He understood how excited I was, he understood the magic of Christmas. That pat on the head was like him saying “don’t worry Sweetheart, just hang in there another hour or so. It’ll be worth it.” What I wouldn’t give to have him pat me on the head again. I miss him just as much today as I always have. But I’m so thankful to him, he helped make Christmas so special to me.
Do you have any favourite Christmas memories? Maybe you do, maybe you’re planning on making some new ones this year. Either way, cherish them, use them to make new memories, and cherish those too.
Until next time.