Chez WW in England

Chez WW in England

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The true meaning of Christmas

12 December 2010

The first snowfall happened last night. It is hard not to get into the Christmas spirit with the white stuff on the ground. This Christmas will be a little . . . ok a lot . . . different for my husband and me. The big day is 2 weeks away. Our big day is days away. We are moving from Ontario to England. Our Christmas will probably be spent in a hotel with no tree, no family or friends, and no smell of cookies baking. We will be doing the present thing -  gifts that will make our 18 ½ months living overseas and travelling extensively more comfortable. My husband got me an IPod Touch and I got him a Sony Touch E-reader. Despite our fab gifts we know that Christmas is about much more than the presents under the tree.  This Christmas more than any other illustrates the message that the Grinch has been teaching us every December.

I have so many fond memories of past Christmases.
  • Time spent with my grandmother who would come to our house for an evening in December to make shortbread cookies with her cookie press. She let us make our initials in cookie form.
  • My grandfather coming to our house on Christmas eve morning with a tree he had cut. After lunch on Christmas eve, we got to decorate the tree. My grandparents usually slept at our house that night.
  • Spending time with my cousins.
  • Being at my grandparent's house, curled up in front of the woodstove watching the original Miracle on 34th Street.
  • Munching on all the treats found in the flour bin at their house: chips, cheesies, pop, Purity syrup and nuts in the shell.
  • Snowball fights, sledding and making snowmen.
  • Presents from Aunt Claire were always wrapped in re-cycled paper. I don't remember the gifts, but I remember the paper knowing that each year her gifts were unwrapped with love and care so the paper could be used again.
Then came New Year's Eve. All of us grandkids were at Nan and Pop's house for the night. We went to bed at our regular time and we woken up at  around 11 PM. We were fed soup and bundled up. Within moments, we would be doing that special thing that we waited all year for: In outport Newfoundland, it is tradition to shoot off guns. My pop gave each of us kids a turn, standing behind us so we would not fall to the ground from the kickback.

I remember snowstorms.

I remember Nan pulling the table over to the stove so we could put our feet in the oven to warm them up after hours of playing outside.

There was the Christmas in university that Blagdon (my other mother) had all her kids home and we opened all the presents at her house at midnight on Christmas eve and then went to our house and opened all of ours. I got my Mom the video Home Alone that year and at 3 in the morning we curled up to watch it with the room lit by the Christmas tree lights.

There was our first Christmas on PEI and Mom had left the Christmas pop in the car over night. The next day, driving through Charlottetown, the pop that was in glass bottles had frozen and exploded. It sounded like we were in a war zone. That was our first experience with the glass bottles.
Our first Christmas together as husband and wife in our own house the tree fell over on Christmas eve and landed on the dining room table.

Last Christmas, we were stuck home due to a freezing rain storm. It was just the two of us and we spent time in our jammies watching an entire season of True Blood while eating lots of cookies.

This year, the things that mean Christmas to me will be missing. We will have our presents and each other but none of the other things that make Christmas so special. My heart aches to decorate the house, bake cookies, decorate a tree, and spend time with family and friends. It will be a challenge to hold onto all of the wonderful traditions that mean so much to me and to come up with new ones while moving to a new country. I am planning for walks holding hands with my husband, seeing plays and learning about new traditions.

Our stress level builds as Christmas gets closer. Too much focus is placed on the money spent and the gifts bought. Think back to your childhood. Do you remember the gifts you received each year? Or do you remember the fun things? The Grinch had it right when he told us that Christmas could not be bought in a store; that maybe Christmas means a little bit more.

This Christmas give the gift of happy memories, love, and laughter and discover the true meaning of Christmas.

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