My Traditions of Christmas

An ornament depicting a snowman, adorning a Ch...
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I woke up to the smell of burnt toast. Either I am having a stroke or someone left the bread in to long. I roll over to check the time… 8:30 AM. According to my standards, that is not sleeping in but that is all I can muster until the stresses leave my head. Two more days, maybe three. The stress of life, work, school, friends and family weigh heavy on me. It is like I am the mom of everything. I have to admit, it is easier this year. I have simplified, used honesty in a way that leaves nothing for assumptions to be misconstrued. I don’t have all my ducks in a row yet, but that is coming. Things are better than I had hoped for but not quite as fabulous as I wished for.

I finish reading Room by Emma Donoghue. It was compelling. All from the perspective of a 5 year old. As an educator of preschoolers, it made me think about them from an interesting perspective. But now it’s done and I need more books. I have a huge list for download, but I need to wait until after Christmas.

I roll out of bed because my tummy is rumbling. I ignore it to hop into the shower and indulge in the fancy soaps. It is Christmas Eve and the family festivities begin tonight.

As a kid I remember driving down from Yellowknife with dad trying to keep the Blizzard on our tail. We planned to sleep in Peace River, but Mom was worried we would be stuck there for Christmas Morning. So we kept moving. My brother (4) and I (6) were dressed in our jammies for the very long drive to Edmonton. We were armed with pillows, blankets and teddies. I remember the dark, but that is nothing new I lived in the Arctic. It was always dark, not really knowing the time by the light of the sun unless it was noon. Looking out the window as we drove, I saw swirling snow and dark. These were the days before electronics in the car. Mom couldn’t read to us because a flashlight would bother dad.  So we slept.

When we woke up it was still dark. But I remembered Granny’s house! It was just like I remembered from a 100 years ago or summertime, both were a long way away. Mom tried the side door, Grandpa left it open for us. We snuck in quietly, but not quietly enough I guess. In the living room we turned on the Christmas lights, placed gifts under the tree and waited. Granny came into the living room and there we were under the tree for her Christmas present. Her face was happy and so was mom’s. Somehow we went back to sleep to wait for Christmas Eve to come.

I reflect on traditions of my past and tried to incorporate the ones I loved into my Christmas present. Christmas Eve dinner use to be Chinese food out, but now it is at my brother’s house. I like that better. Opening one gift on Christmas Eve use to mean lunch with my dad’s parents and my beloved Gram, but that changed too. Now my kids get to open their gift from their brother who lives in Australia. They like that better. Opening stockings first, while dad had breakfast. We still open stockings first, while mom (me) makes her coffee. I like that better. Then opening gifts, one at a time to stretch out Christmas and share in what each other received. I liked that best and so does my son. The same tradition continues. Dinner no longer is at my Granny’s, it moved to my mom’s and now my sister and I take turns. I like it better at her house and she likes it better at mine.

The feeling is the same. Warm and comfortable, wishing others could join us but knowing they are far away and can’t. Memories of them will have to do.

As I look out my kitchen window to the small snow piles and warm air outside, I am thankful the weather is nicer than last year. I think about Christmas at Walt Disney World and loved swimming outside on New Years Eve. I love the dark at Christmas. It makes the lights shine and the ice sparkle. For the first time in years I found the Christmas Spirit. I realize I am not the old me, but the new and improved me. The Edmonton Tourist Tradition continues…

Merry Christmas to all my friends and family who celebrate, and best wishes for all of you who don’t.

Love The Edmonton Tourist aka Robyn

I Live on the Island of Misfit Toys

Do you remember watching Rudolf as a kid and being enchanted with the Island of Misfit Toys?  I do and have been thinking about that time a lot lately.

When I was little, my mom would go through the TV Guide and highlight all the Christmas specials during the month of December. Every night after dinner my brother and I would have a bath, hop into our flannel jammies, snuggle under a blanket on the floor and watch every possible Christmas special available. Mom often made hot chocolate with marshmellows and the Christmas baking was started so cookies were also a treat for bed time snack. Sometimes dad would light a fire and we always watched the show in the dark with only the tree lights on. It was magical for me. Fridays, mom would let us sleep under the tree. Imagine how magical it was for a little kid sleeping under the Christmas tree with the lights on! I would wake up in the middle of the night with the lights off and be disappointed. But was too lazy to turn the lights on, and too fearful of burning the tree burning down. Granny always had a good scare story about how some poor family left their lights on and their house burn to the ground. That was not an option for me. I liked my house, especially my room.

My room had two closets. One for clothes and one permanently set up as a doll house. I was living the dream…except for one thing. I never quite felt like I fit in. I could have easily lived on the Island of Misfit Toys.

Don’t misunderstand, I had lots of friends but I never felt part of the group. I’m sure lots of people feel that way. The older I get the more I realize it is true. People who think and over think and analyze things to death, often feel disconnect from the group. I still do in many ways. I have a ton of friends for a gal who hates people…not true, I like people just not every waking minute. I love solitude but I also love socializing. If I had to choose between the two…solitude would win. Strange to some, but normal to others.

I have lived through a lot of teenage drama this week. From boyfriends and dates, to misfit solitude. The balance is hard. The worst of it is, mommy can’t fix the pain. She can talk, sympathize, advise, support, but the decision must be made by the teens themselves. It’s nights like this one where I wish for the simplicity of being 8 and sleeping under the Christmas Tree. I wish I could make it that easy for my Offspring. As a mom, it may in fact be more painful for me than it is for them. I’ve walked in their shoes, now I have heels and walk bedside them. Being a mom is harder than being a teenager. Wish someone had told me. I remember just wanting a baby, I didn’t think about them growing up.

I want to go to the magical attic, the place where everything is stored. (It is the equivalent to your dog moving to the country. I think it is called the Sally Ann, or the Dump.) And dig out my 1975 turquoise aluminium tree. Cover it in blue lights and white decorations and leave the lights on while I sleep. A little bit of Christmas fairy dust would be good about now. Maybe Santa will leave a giant bandaid in the stocking to fix the sore hearts in our house OR maybe we just need to settle down for a long winters nap.

Happy Birthday Granny!

Happy Birthday Gran!

I came downstairs for breakfast this morning and the noise and bustle of my home was a bit much for me. I am the sort of gal who loves peace and solitude. I think I am alone in this, well as far as my personal home is concerned. Growing up I knew I needed it too. Those were the days I would pick fights and arguments with my family and declare I was running away…to Granny’s.

I knew even as a child I needed a quiet place to calm my mind. I escaped a lot to the sanctity of my room. When it became too much, off to Gran’s I would run/ride my bike too/take the bus/beg mom for a ride.

I would phone up my Grandma and say “Granny, can I sleep over…PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE” I would ALWAYS get the the answer of “OH ALRIGHT…but I’m NOT changing the sheets!” Hahaha that was fine with me, I was the last one who slept in that bed anyways!

Away i would go, just in time for the Carol Burnette Show. my Aunt and I would lay on the floor in front of the huge TV encased in wood, eating Old Dutch Chips out of the Green Bowl (fyi- I WANT that bowl). I remember the Dentist Skit, I’m ready for my close up skit, and every single Kraft Foods commercial. Then it was bed time. I loved the way the sheets smelled of crisp linen. The room was in total darkness and the house was silent except for the bear cave sound of snoring that came from my Grandpa’s room. I loved sleeping over at Granny’s.

In the morning I would awake to the smell of Grandpa’s coffee. He claimed it was a secret  blend of bear grease, turpentine and coffee – just the way he learned to make it in the Airforce. When I was older, I tried and I was a believer. Nothing that vile could be anything BUT bear grease and turpentine. After a breakfast of porridge – GACK, off we would go tot the shops downtown with my mom and her little sister. I loved Saturdays at Edmonton Centre. Chips and gravy with hard jello cubes for lunch, Orange Julius for a mid afternoon snack and clothes shopping until dinner = heaven.

Happy Birthday Dear Granny! I hope it is a good one!! I am running away to Granny’s if anyone needs to find me. See you soon Gran!

Love your FAVORITE grandchild,