- A perfect summer Saturday,
- Sunlight on water,
- Enough of a breeze,
- Few mosquitoes,
- Home early enough to recharge before bed,
- And to chase the cat around the house;
- She thinks I’m a toy!
- An Introvert’s perfect getaway,
- Love me and let me be me!
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A few years ago, without purpose or intent, my nephew bought my grandparent’s homestead. The only structure, of theirs, left standing was the old red barn which got destroyed in a windstorm this past summer!
I’m not sure if this was my grandparent’s original home quarter, that is, the first place that they lived when they came to Canada. I’m pretty sure that this is where my father was raised. He was always very nostalgic about the farm and the surrounding country schools and rural towns nearby.
My nephew was not at first aware of the personal history when he went to look at the place. My father’s parents were both dead by the time he was born.
There is a synchronicity here. A place that once was important to the family comes back full circle.
I spent many happy Christmases here as a child and am now returning to make new memories for a new generation.
Tradition. Traditions are important. Growing up, it was customary to spend Christmas at the farm and Easter with my mother’s parents. This was partly because my mother didn’t drive and partly because her father did not want to drive cross-country in the winter. Plus, mom is basically an only child (her bachelor brother was 13 years older) so Christmas at the farm was a lot more fun!
All the aunts and uncles would come and altogether there was twenty or so grand-children ranging through the ages from baby boomers to generation X ers (1956 – 1973), from babies to young teenagers. We were a diverse group.
Mom would take us four kids to Christmas eve service, we’d get to open one gift that night and then in the morning we would open the rest of our gifts and Grandpa would come pick us up for the short drive (15 minutes) to the farm. I couldn’t sit next to grandpa because I was a wiggler and was always bumping the gear shift.
Once at the farm we would all sit down to a big meal, after which the women would wash dishes, the men would talk and the children (no exceptions) would be sent outside to play because once the dishes were done the grown-ups would get down to some serious card playing.
We didn’t mind. We’d make forts in the hay stack (this was when hay was stored in smallest rectangle bundles), play in the snow and generally run around going crazy until we got cold.
Once back inside, we would squeeze by the grown-up card players and settle into the smallish living room to watch the Christmas movie on CBC. This movie almost always seemed to star Hayley Mills. I remember parts of Tiger Bay and The Family Way; my favourite was The Trouble With Angels!
We would lay on the floor staring intently at the black and white TV. The youngest children slowly nodding off. Grandma’s Christmas cactus, which eldest sister still nourishes parts of, was a bright pink and green splotch in the corner.
There would be leftovers for supper after dark and slowly us kids would be bundled up and taken home where, no doubt, we slept soundly long through the night. No doubt, sweet dreams abounded.
My grandparent’s home was such a small house yet it still held all of us (20 kids, 9 parents, 2 grandparents and an occasional neighbour or two). I don’t remember feeling crowded. My nephew’s house is probably three times as big with half the amount of people coming for Christmas Eve and it can still feel too crowded to me!
I’m not saying that I never felt crowded out at my grandparents. Too much party, too many people and I need to escape to somewhere quiet. I’ve always been this way. Neither me or my cat are extroverts.
Too much and I need a place to hide close enough that I still feel like I’m part of the party. At my grandparents that was the spare bedroom right beside the quiet living room which was right beside the crowded dining room full of grown-ups. When I got overwhelmed, I would grab a book (the older I got the more likely it would be that I would have a book with me) and disappear into the bedroom to read all by myself.
All my life, I’ve curled up in a corner reading as life and chatter swirled around me. This is where I feel most at home. This is when I feel most warm, secure and safe. If anyone needed to find me, they instinctively knew where I was! I was somewhere quiet reading!
I loved getting together with my cousins. I loved the sociability. With them I learned on my feet, to get along with people and what love is.
Yes, even though, I was the one hiding in the corner with a book.
This is one of my traditions.
As a family of one (and a cat), I mostly get to enjoy the holiday as I want to and I definitely get to create my own traditions.
My traditions are:
- Garlands of Stars,
- Celebrating the Winter Solstice,
- Chicken Bones (see above – I once tried explaining this candy to my Montreal boyfriend and he pictured actual glazed chicken bones),
- Watching the 1966 Grinch Who Stole Christmas,
- Watching a darker Christmas movie (like Die Hard or Gremlins),
- Watching The Nightmare Before Christmas (at both Halloween and Christmastime),
- Spending time alone reading.
Enjoy your particular traditions.
It is snowing right now. It is a soft, drifting snow. It covers all the bleakness of my lawn and makes it look soft and warm and white.
Happy Holidays to all and to all a good night!