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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Memories

This column is written for those who are spending Christmas with their memories.
Of course, we all spend Christmas with our memories to some extent. But those of us who are still in the throes of celebrating the holidays with young children have too much on the go to sit and think about time passing.
Christmas is for children. So when they are young, our focus is to: 1. Get the Christmas list from the child; 2. Attempt to streamline Christmas list to a more reasonable size; 3. Locate and purchase all items remaining on the list; 4. Find successful hiding spots for purchased items; 5. Find uninterrupted time to wrap said gifts (usually with kids banging on the door, wondering what you are doing in there, or late at night, after they have gone to sleep); 6. Learn how to recreate all of the Christmas traditions of your childhood for your own young, including Christmas decorating, legends, activities and baking; 7. Find time to carry out all aforementioned Christmas traditions; 8. Take part in school Christmas pageants, staff parties, neighbourhood and family gatherings; and 9. Record all events on camera in case you are too frazzled to “live in the moment” and truly enjoy the festivities.
If that is an accurate description of your Christmas, congratulations! Your life is full. You will appreciate this busy phase after it has passed; trust me.
But what about those people who are alone at Christmas?
Time marches on. Children grow up and move out, relationships end and partners leave, family members age and pass on. Christmas can be a pretty depressing time for those who have no family members to celebrate with.
This is my first Christmas without my father. His absence will be felt, to be sure. Dad loved Christmas. He insisted on shopping alone for the perfect gift for my sister and me (I say “gift” singular because he often bought us the same thing while we were growing up). His gifts were always very original, but the one I remember most clearly was the walkie-talkie. I thought that was the coolest gift ever.
Last year Dad got Mom, Cathy and me tickets to see “Mamma Mia” at the NAC. I was raised on ABBA. Another perfect gift.
We continue to mention Dad at every family gathering – and at every opportunity – so that he will live on in our memories. But we are lucky because we have each other. We are a close-knit family; we live near each other and we do things together every week.
If you are alone over the holidays, I urge you to get out and surround yourself with positive people. Get together with old friends and neighbours, or take part in an open community event. Christmas is no time to be alone. Force yourself to get out.
Whenever there is a big event in your life, and your family dynamics or circle of friends changes, it’s time to think of forming some new traditions. Keep moving forward, while still paying homage to Christmas past. I’m no expert, but my life has been through so many dramatic changes, I have learned this is the only way to go.
As this column goes to print, I will be up to my eyeballs in sheep. We are expecting a new crop of lambs to arrive sometime between Christmas and New Year’s, so I have to get ready.
First, I will take a broom to the lovely artistic display of cobwebs in the lambing area. Then I will make sure there is enough hay in each of the lambing pens in our Maaaaaaa-ternity ward. Next, I will help the Farmer to test all of the water hoses. Finally, I will strap a couple of water buckets into each pen and then we will be ready. Let the games begin.
I was thinking it might be helpful to have a baby monitor set up in the barn, as most of the births start in the wee hours of the morning. However, I don’t even know if sheep make noise to signal the onset of a birth. It’s like a tree falling in the woods and making a sound. Do they make noise when we aren’t there? If there is no new food arriving on the scene, I’m not sure the sheep have much to talk about. I don’t imagine a birth would get them too excited.
Of course, the drama of difficult births always makes one want to do everything possible to make things run smoothly in the future. Now I understand why some farmers choose to have a spare bed in the barn. Usually you can tell if a ewe is going to go into labour in the next few hours. There are signs.
If I see these signs this time, I will make a note to go out to the barn every few hours throughout the night. The Farmer and I take turns doing the night checks.
I wish we had a video surveillance camera trained on the sheep with a monitor in our room. That would make my sleep easier.
Every year we have something new to celebrate, and something or someone else to remember from the past.
Good luck with your merry-making; may you form some wonderful memories to last your whole life long.

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