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Growing up, my brother and I always figured dad didn’t really care for Christmas.
When we were in my teens, he refused to put up Christmas lights on the trees outside. He always grumbled when my mom would excavate the umpteen boxes of wreaths, ribbons, bows and Santa cookie jars from the basement. And he always put up a fuss about mom chopping down a tree off the property at El Rancho (by herself!.. what a woman!) saying it was such a waste.
But now, thinking back on it all, I think he was just being clever.
After all, it got him out of stringing up all those lights in the freezing cold; it wasn’t cruel – I suppose my brother and I were old enough to do it. It gave him an excuse to excuse himself from climbing the ladder to wrap the banisters and later, the ledge high up in the living room, with wreaths and lights. And it got him out of dragging a tree a quarter of a mile through bumpy, snowy banks.
Ah yes, my father is a wise man. Mind you, we always noted that though he may have complained during the preparations, he always seemed to enjoy enormously sitting beside the lit Christmas tree and crackling fireplace with an amber-hued glass in his hand.
And then I got these photos from my sister-in-law a couple weeks ago.
And I’ve realized that my dad has finally embraced Christmas with all his might.
Or so I thought…
When Martin & Anna got married, my dad started shopping for a sleigh. Once he found the perfect one at some auction or other, he brought it home and spent the next two winters refinishing it. Then he bought a thoroughbred mare last year specifically to pull it (all his other horses are quarter horses).
So when Anna brought Ella to the Ranch for a visit this year, Dad was prepared. He pulled out the sleigh, donned this red and white santa suit, and took everyone for a ride.
My heart almost overflowed when I saw those pictures. Dad really is a softy after all..!
Then, when I went back home for the holidays, one night I couldn’t sleep and started digging dig through some old photo albums.
Lo and behold, I stumbled upon a picture which I never really paid attention to before, but with this recent picture of dad in his sleigh in my mind, it took on new meaning.
I recognized the Santa suit in the picture taken this December.
It was the same one he had worn almost thirty years ago when I was a little girl. The only difference now is that he has his own white beard.
I guess he loved Christmas all along. It just took his first grandchild to bring it out again.
Since Rob and I are going to Calgary tomorrow to spend some time with my family, we did our big Fink Family Christmas dinner last night. In addition to the usual Finks, we also had Bella (Kit’s mother from Ontario), Nadhla (Yaseen’s mom) and Peter and Sarah (Rob’s cousins) along with 4 year old Isaac.
Gabriel got it just right when, in the middle of all the hustle and bustle, he beamed and looked at us and burst out, “We’re having a grrrrrreat time!”. Indeed we were.
Of course, the big highlights of the night centered around the kids. It was hilarious to see Gabe’s face when he unveiled the awesome rocking horse from Bubby & Sporto – that alone was pretty amazing to him but when the horse started to neigh and wag its tail, he didn’t know what to think of it.
The other hit of the night was definitely the keyboard, which was Uncle Robbie’s idea. We knew Mr. G loved playing with his ‘big brown guitar’ just like Raffi and the Wiggles and figured a keyboard would be either a really big hit or a really big failure. Luckily, it was the former. And not only did it have all these funky pre-programmed songs, it had a microphone… and we discovered Gabe just might be a budding talk show host.
Here’s a video of the little man and his “pie-ano” (that’s what it’s called in Gabe-Land).
I’m a big kid at heart. So when Work-Rob (i.e. my boss… as opposed to My-Rob, the one at home) came back from what I think was the fastest Christmas shopping trip in the history of the universe with the most adorable plush Rudolph and Bumble (a.k.a Abominable Snow Monster of the North) that I had ever seen, I couldn’t resist – I ran out to get them too. Oh, and their friends. Well I couldn’t not get their friends! Merry Christmas to me.
They love hanging out with me and my cubicle-buddy Cisco at the office, and it’s a good thing – I’m putting off taking them home. I am going to get in soooo much trouble…!!!
I know it’s super sentimental and old-fashioned, but I still think nothing beats getting a Christmas card in the mail.
I got my first ones in the mail yesterday (tied for first place are Erin and Ruben… yay!) and I gotta tell ya, I felt a little flutter of excitement when I saw them.
Growing up, my mom always did cards though, funny enough, I can’t say I ever actually saw her writing them. I know she did because our own mailbox always revealed bunches of cards that were reciprocated. My mom would always display them by sticking them between the horizontal slats of the blinds in the kitchen. When we were bored, we’d try to decipher the chicken scratch Polish words we probably wouldn’t have been able to pronounce even if we could read them.
So I try to carry the torch and keep the tradition of the cards going.
It’s not easy, let me tell you.
For one, it’s a pain trying to track down addresses all the time. My mom still has the same dilapidated old green address book from 25 years ago and sure, some of the addresses were scratched out and replaced with new ones (the page with my name on it definitely has no more room), but not very many. People didn’t used to move much.
And let’s be honest, writing cards takes time. A lot of people complain they don’t have time to write cards. That just tells me they don’t have time to care. Signing your name under the printed “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” greeting does NOT count. I was reading the other day about some company that you can outsource your Christmas cards to. How ridiculous. The whole point of sending cards is to show the person that even in this increasingly hectic world we live in, you took a few moments to think of them and about how much they mean to you.
Doing Christmas cards can also be expensive. I mean, $20.99 for a box of 8 cards? Don’t even get me started on the price of stamps. So for this reason I’ve recently softened and consider e-cards to be acceptable too, but only if they are personalised; sending a mass email with a dancing Santa or a comic with a reindeer in it is totally tacky. Best not send anything at all.
And of course, there’s always the feeling you have to defend yourself from the environmentalists. I really think there are some out there that use the ‘green’ excuse as a way of getting out of doing cards, i.e. waste of paper, emission of carbon by mail trucks and planes, poor little squid who have to supply the ink, blah blah blah. Sure, this is not without truth but just stop for a moment and consider the value of letting someone know you care about them. (Warning: Extreme Cheese Factor coming up…) At the end of the day, sending love out to the universe is what will save it. So personally, that I’d rather keep sending the cards and cut back, instead, on something else.
So yes, it’s hard, but that’s what makes it worthwhile. Nothing compares to getting a card in the mail.
~ ~ ~
Note to my friends and family:
If you find you have lost your appetite for life and are walking around in a cloud of confusion because you still haven’t received my annual Christmas card in the mail, don’t worry. It’s sitting on my kitchen table. I will do everything in my power to write my cards tonight, I swear.
Oops, not tonight… I’m meeting a friend for drinks. Tomorrow, though.
Er… maybe not tomorrow, either. I still have some Christmas shopping to do and need to plan an outfit for Thursday’s office Xmas party.
So, um, I guess that means Thursday night is out too. Hmmm. Friday?
But that’s already DECEMBER FIFTEENTH?!
Yikes, I’m in trouble.
Wow, hard to believe, but it’s true! The Christmas Countdown widget on my Google homepage tells me there are only 17 days left till the day, though the holidays have been well under way for a couple of weeks now in Kasia-Land.
I busted out the Xmas decorations at the office again this year (much to the dismay of some… a couple people banded together and created a “No Xmas Zone”!) and I have to say, cheesy as they are, they really cheer a person up. This picture doesn’t do it justice, really – we strung snowflakes from the ceiling, put tacky tinsel on the cubicle walls and strung garlands of mini snowmen in the halls. It turns every day into a mini-celebration.
I also serenade myself daily with a delightful medley of Burl Ives, Mel Torme and Bing Crosby remixes (“meli-kaliki-maka” all the way, baby) at the office and torment Rob at home. I’ve lost count of the number of Christmas CDs I own now; every year I add a least a couple more. This year it was the Starbucks one, ‘Stockings By the Fire’. I know… I know… and yes, I’m a tad embarrassed – I mean, it’s bad enough to go there and pay $5 for a latte (the eggnog one is soooo good though!), but even worse to be spoon-fed your musical tastes by a coffee chain. In my own defense, the CD is actually pretty good. Not the best, but not bad. The best award still goes to Boney M Christmas. My childhood holiday memories of perogies, presents and peppermint all replay in my head to the beat of Mary’s Boy Child. I still remember the aha! moment I had when I realized those French classes in junior high had finally amounted to something… it was listening to Boney M singing Petit Papa Noel and I could finally understand what they were saying (well, sort of… their pronunciation isn’t exactly bang-on).
The Festival of Lights at Van Dusen Gardens is starting tonight. Last year, I went with Karolina for the first time and just loved it… and since Rob categorically refuses (humbug), good thing Patti is in town for a few days (YAY!!).
Speaking of which, I have to go rescue her from Christmas shopping craziness on Robson.
What can I say? It’s the most wonderful time of the year.