Preparation is now in full swing here in south-west British Columbia. It’s bitingly cold out of doors (sadly no snow yet), children are losing their minds in local shopping malls, and everyone seems to be in one of two distinct moods: Happy or Anxious. The latter mood, probably stemming from too many commitments in too little time. December creeped up on these sorrowful few, and slapped them straight across the face, it seems.
I fall firmly in the “Happy” camp. I love Christmas, I love winter, and I like the overall feeling of people attempting to be generous towards each other for a few weeks a year. Yes, I suppose I am a romantic at heart, lord help us, the jig is up.
The festivities started in earnest this week, with my first ever Christmas tree-chopping excursion! (Thanks, RDK!) I went in blind, so-to-speak. A Christmas tree farm novice, we hunted, and scoured for the most perfect tree in Richmond at H&M Christmas Tree Farm, settling upon a “Noble Fir” after a mere two hours in pursuit. I now know more about finding the perfect tree than I ever dreamed possible. From needle type, to shape, to fullness, and overall lasting ability. I bet next year, we’ll wrap this up in twenty minutes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the seeking out the perfect tree. I just feel that the act of doing so is really beckoning the sense of nostalgia attached to it, particularly for my brother-in-law and his childhood. I can imagine what sort of family adventure this would have been for him as a tyke, waist-deep in snow in the depths of the US mid-west. Now, that’s a family holiday memory to cherish, and I can only hope the same for my (eventual) family, and now my sister’s family with him.
My parents are not normally the Christmas celebrating type. Sure, growing up we’d have a nice meal with family friends, but no gift exchange, no holiday traditions or “must-have-menu-items”. I think having that fresh influence in the family is a good thing moving forward, family’s all we’ve got these days as a constant in our lives, why not spend more time enjoying them? We’ll be getting together for a Swedish-infused meal on Christmas Eve this year with friends, which I am absolutely looking forward to. Until then, there is a lot to be done. Christmas decorating, parties, baking, and gifting, all of which are items on my to-do list.
Decorating was in to full swing at my sister’s after our tree adventure, and I got a first-hand taste of how intense, and awesome it can be. There’s something to be said about walking into a house with a real tree, and the smell that engulfs you. That woodsy, comfortable, homey smell. It smells like holidays, and I love it. It’s like narcotics for your olfactory system, just legal. This should go without saying, but I’ll be spending quite a bit of time there this season. Couple this fragrance with the little surprises sprinkled throughout the house, and I’m in heaven. We’re talking about chocolate just materializing on tables, little centrepieces here and there, garland on the mantles, a fire going. Everything completely and utterly cliche, and perfect. We set to work decorating both trees rather quickly. Yes, two trees, the aforementioned tree, and an artificial “family tree” on the lower floor- one that would be a hodgepodge of ornaments and popcorn string; the bigger one on the main floor being colour coordinated to a certain extent. Technically, three trees, if you count the pint sized little fella in the office. Christmas went and threw up all over this house.
This certainly sounds picturesque, a family around their tree, hanging ornaments, humming along to carols, and it was. At least until my parents called, asking about puck drop time on the Canucks game. That was when my older sister, now referred to as that misguided “Toronto Maple Leaf Fan”, decided to add some two bit commentary about my beloveds. “Doesn’t matter what time the game’s on at guys, you know the Canucks are gonna lose anyway”. Oh. No. You. Didn’t. You see, eventually everything can come back to hockey in this family, even Christmas. I should mention at this point that the Maple Leafs fell to the Boston Bruins the night previous, in a stinker of a game. Oh, additionally, I should point out that the Canucks beat the Calgary Flames 5-1 down a defenceman and forward. See how she’s misguided? Now, when I say everything comes down to hockey, I mean it. In our little family, we have 3 main camps: the right, the misguided, and legacy. My mom, middle sister and her husband are on “team right” – the Canucks. The sister mentioned throughout this blog, well, she’s the misguided Maple Leaf fan. This brings us to the legacy, the brother-in-law from the US. A black sheep, if you would. He cheers for Team USA, and the Detroit Red Wings (as does his entire family- no joke). You can imagine dinner conversations, and you’d probably be right in whatever it is you’re assuming. Now, come playoff time, take your assumption and multiply by about 10. That’s when things get real, and hostile. Makes for interesting family get togethers, doesn’t it? To top it off, the culprits of most debates are our mothers. Oh, family.
So, how does hockey come back to Christmas, holidays and great memories? The fact that both trees in my sister’s house are littered with ornaments of varying hockey importance, (and the slideshow below) should speak to this. It is a bit more involved than simple decor for me: I spent the last two years of my high school life playing road hockey with my closest friends throughout the winter holidays. As a result, I have a hard time disassociating the two now. I remember drawing the short stick for goalie, taking a slap shot to the thigh, or scoring my first goal in three outings. Most of all, I remember that feeling: not having to get up for school, laughing so hard my stomach hurt, running in to the house for tea or hot chocolate and something delicious out of the oven; smiling so much my cheeks couldn’t settle, and every one of us on the floor of my friend’s living room around his tree.. Being outdoors with your best friends, having a great time causing a ruckus, and tying those moments to a time of year is what the holiday spirit is meant to be. Something to illicit nostalgia, years down the road, and setting a precedent you would want your own to emulate. When I stated in my first post that hockey was a religion for me, I was half-joking, of course. However, if religion is defined as “a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance“, (Oxford English Dictionary), something you believe in, and accept in your day to day life, in my case, I guess I wasn’t too far off, was I?
Just something to think on, friends.