There are lots of people who will have suckier Christmases than I will, but that won’t make mine any less sucky. It is the first Christmas I will have to work. Every year since I graduated high school, I have been home to the farm by at least the 23rd. The 23rd is what we call “bar night” back home. If you head down to the local hotel or maybe the one the next town over, you can be sure to run into old friends, classmates, and acquaintances that you only get to see maybe once every year or two. Or even longer in some cases. I won’t be around for it this year. I work 12 hour days, 7-7, on the 24th and the 25th. To make it worse, I will have to spend those 24 hours with a certain coworker with a large melon and she is just the worst. Seriously, the worst woman I’ve ever known. We’ve given her nicknames like Big Head, Philly (think Tom Hanks), and K-unt. Thank goodness for my other coworker, Jim. He will make the days bearable.
Normally when I get home to the farm, depending on the day, Mom and Dad may or may not have a Christmas tree yet. Mom has been fighting for a fake tree for years and Dad and I have been resisting. Last year she finally got her way and we had a fake tree. But up until last year, we would cut one down ourselves. Sometimes Dad would go out by himself and come back with some mess of a tree that took him hours to find. One year he and Inga, our german exchange student, went out and it took them 4 or 5 attempts at cutting trees down before they found the “perfect” one. One tree was huge so Dad climbed halfway up to cut just the top off because it was so nice. Unfortunately, it hit every other tree on its way down and by the time they stood it up to evaluate their great find, it had lost half its branches. Some years we hitch the horses up and take the sleigh into the bush to find our tree. Some years we call the neighbour and cut one down growing along his fence line. One year Mom, Dad, and myself trekked through the bush for an hour to find a tree and the perfect spot for me to take a picture of Mom and Dad that they could send as their email Christmas card to their friends. This was also the year I biffed it into a snowbank and my concerned father grabbed the camera out of my hand and ignored my cries for help.
Speaking of my lovely parents, the next year they once again waited for me to get home so that I could take another picture of them to email out. This time, they took it with one of the horses. Anyone else noticing this pattern of child exclusion?! Anyways, back to the trees. Some years the tree is already waiting for me when I get home and my job is to decorate it. I love decorating the tree. My grandmother passed away a year ago on Halloween. The year before that, we brought her out from the nursing home for a couple of nights and she and I decorated it together. She always found beauty in the smallest things and to see her smile while she looked at the tree all lit up was pure magic.
Christmas eve has been pretty quiet for us in recent years. Mom and Dad go to the Christmas eve church service every year. I used to go with them, but I now I choose to stay home and enjoy the house to myself for an hour or so. The Christmas eve service is always lovely though. Christmas carols, friendly faces, and Christmas stories. Whatever your or my beliefs are, a good story is a good story. Up until about 5 or so years ago, my Dad’s oldest sister and her family would come out from Lloydminster every year for Christmas. They’d arrive on Christmas eve and stay anywhere from 3 to 5 days. When I was young, they’d stay at my grandparents house. We all lived in the same yard. And when my grandparents moved to a smaller place, the family would stay with us or my Dad’s other sister. 10 people sharing space for that long got a little crowded, especially when the rest of the family (sometimes both Mom’s side and Dad’s) descended for a meal or a sleigh ride. But it felt like Christmas. Now it’s usually just the 3 of us. My brother may or may not show up, depending on where he is and who he’s dating at the time. We usually see him at some point during the holidays, but we never can be certain when that will be. Last year we spent the day at my Mom’s youngest sister’s cabin at a nearby lake. My Mom has 2 brothers and 3 sisters and it’s hard to get everyone together. It was a nice crowd last year though…just my Mom and 2 of her sisters and their families. We had turkey, did a Chinese gift exchange, went sledding, and took a skidoo ride. The boys went first and then my cousin Megan took myself and my other cousin Kristin out. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but at some point I went over a bump, went flying off the sled, and when I stood up, my shoulder hurt like a motherfucke, the visor had popped off my helmet, and my face was stuffed with snow. It was one of my finer moments.
A couple of years ago, we had 3 turkey meals in rather quick succession. I can’t even remember what the first one was, but I know we had one. I think Mom had cooked a turkey for some reason. We probably had company over. That was on Christmas eve. On Christmas day, we stopped at my aunt’s cabin. We had supper plans at my Dad’s sister’s house so we had just planned on stopping for a bit to visit and say Merry Christmas. When we got there, my aunt had a full Christmas meal ready for us. It was sooo delicious! We tried not to eat it, but it was impossible. By the time lunch was over, it was time to make our way over to my other aunt’s. For another full turkey dinner. And we couldn’t be rude so we had to attempt eating again. These two meals happened in the span of about 4 hours. I was ready to die. 3 turkey dinners in 24 hours is admirable, but not recommended.
This year, I am going to miss all of these things 😦 I will still get to be at the farm from Boxing Day until the 30th, but it’s just not the same. I have to spend Christmas eve and day in the city. Working. And then by myself. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to wallow in this and feel sorry for myself and my 1st world problems all week.
I’ll be home for Christmas….eventually.