T’was the night before Christmas


I love Christmas. I have always loved Christmas. When I was a kid growing up in the North West Territories we had only our immediate family and we became very close. We treasured our traditions. Christmas Eve always started with a bath, followed by new pjs. Then came an extra special family evening with a program, singing from our homemade song books, and fancy snacks. And of course the hanging of the stockings before bed. For us, Christmas Eve was every bit as anticipated as Christmas morning when gifts were opened, one by one, but only after our beds were made, our rooms cleaned, and breakfast was eaten together. We didn’t get many presents, but with five kids, there was always the ‘wow’ factor under the tree. I carried on those traditions with my kids and they added a few of their own. They made a pact that the first one up Christmas morning woke the other two kids, and then the three of them would scamper downstairs together. I was always awake in my bed and listened with pleasure for their excited squeals of delight and their ooohs and ahhhhs when they saw the gifts under the tree. They opened their stockings together before ‘waking’ the parental’s.

For me, Christmas represents heartwarming and cozy family time and I steadfastly refused to believe it would ever change. But my kids have grown up on me and are now living their own lives. Alberta first nabbed Sabrina and Ben, and recently she has also snatched away Colin (damn Alberta with her high wages and great job opportunities).

In truth, our traditions have been slowly evolving over the past couple of years, but I have not allowed them to transition gently. I have railed against the mutiny and clung to our rituals with the same childish ferocity with which a toddler clings to her favourite blankie. But this isn’t Neverland and even Peter Pan couldn’t fight the tides of change forever.

My family are all well this holiday season. Colin is working hard in Peace River, Alberta where, in October, he was hired as a truck and coach diesel mechanic. I recently had a wonderful visit from Sabrina and Ben. They are happy and loving the mountain life in Hinton and Jasper. Max, is in his fourth year at Bishops University, and is the only one with me this Christmas eve/day. It’s just the two of us. It seems I must finally allow our traditions to sail into the realm of cherished memories.

In a preemptive strike against sliding into melancholy this Christmas, I booked a last minute trip for Max and me to Cuba. So here we are. I am writing this post as I stare out on a turquoise sea. Sink or swim right! So we swim! We rest, we eat, we read, we eat some more. And think about how incredibly fortunate we are for wonderful memories, loving family and dear friends.

Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night.

23 responses »

  1. Hi dearest Arlene and Max – you found a way to correspond, lovely e-mail. Safe home on Dec. 25 – it looks so gorgeous there. Can’t wait to see you. Lots of hugs, Di xoxoxo

  2. Merry Christmas Arlene and Max.

    Love the Carroll’s….We too are not among family, but in our rented oasis of…SARNIA…which is only a paradise because the four of us are together.

  3. Merry Christmas Arlene with the sense of Adventure.! Wonderful that you and Max are on a trip to Cuba. Have a great time and presume it’s your first trip there. Will write later.xo

    Sent from my iPad

  4. Merry Christmas Arlene and Max! We’re looking forward to spending time with you guys when you are back. Enjoy the sun and surf!! xoxo Leah & Rob

  5. Merry Christmas my dear friend Arlene and oh so handsome Max! Have a wonderful time away. Nothing like a warm sun and sand between the toes to scare away winter blues. I will be thinking of you Sat when we arrive in Mexico! Love you,
    Sherri and Pierre

  6. Merry Christmas to you.in Cuba from us in Canada…🎄❄☃️

    Sent from my Bell Samsung device over Canada’s largest network.

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