This week passed in a haze of cold medication, tea and bad television as I battled a virus that is 'going around' as they say. But I'm on the mend, back at work yesterday and ready for a day baking and preparing for a big family dinner tomorrow night. Christmas season is back on my radar.
I was thinking this morning about Christmases when I was a kid. I have an older sister Donna who used to organize me and my younger brother Steven into staging a yearly production of a play for our parents and the town mill manager and his wife every Christmas Eve. The year I remember most vividly was when the three of us acted out 'A Christmas Carol', adapted, directed and produced by my sister. I recall that my brother and I would get the odd lecture from my mother about cooperating (we had weeks of practices leading up to the day and we were siblings after all) but in the end, we put on quite the show. We might have been Broadway bound if we weren't living in a small northern Ontario town in the middle of nowhere.
We also made gifts for each other. The teachers at school always had crafts that involved making presents, often involving glitter and sparkles. Handmade candles, clay angels...but Donna, Steven and I would make more gifts at home. One time, we made a giant candy cane out of cardboard and filled it with gum because my dad had just quit smoking. The gift-making took hours of working in secret for that moment of hopeful delight when the offering was unwrapped. My parents always insisted it was the perfect gift. We knew it was.
Which leads me back to what I was thinking about when I woke up. The magic of this season, to me, is the little, unexpected moments of offerings from the heart. The sweetness of these moments stays with me years later. My youngest Julia wanted me to have more gifts under the tree one year - she must have been about four years old - so she wrapped up several pieces of paper so that I'd have lots of presents to unwrap. My daughter Lisa spends hours finding us the perfect gift and always succeeding. Ted spent a good part of the day yesterday putting up lights on our front verandah and driving me home up our street after work to surprise me.
Yesterday, I asked the fellow ringing through my produce at Herb and Spice how to tell if a pineapple was ripe. I'd picked one with no idea but wanted it for our family Christmas dinner. The young produce guy then felt every pineapple they had to get me the best one and explained the best way to cut it. A simple, unexpected act of kindness.
So, not much writing in this week although I will make 20,000 words in this manuscript by the New Year - 1/4 or the way through. Grass Roots Press has posted A Model Death - you can read the first chapter to get the flavour of these books.