Round about

We’re in for some stormy weather overnight. The sky has changed to a soupy grey colour though the rain is not expected until closer to midnight after which the temperature will drop and the skies will clear. By Christmas Day things are predicted to be comfortable. It will just be pleasant to have rounded the corner of the Winter Solstice.

The activity on the island was moderately greater today than it has been lately. Those who intend to visit for Christmas will no doubt begin to arrive shortly. The real commotion will however not transpire until closer to the New Year by which time the familial ingredient of the holiday will have dissipated and instead the devout social element will overtake.

Until my father died in 2014 I believe there was only one year in my entire life that I had not spent Christmas with my immediate family. The occasion of the exception was in 1963, the first year my parents lived in Stockholm, Sweden and I had only recently departed from Europe to go back to boarding school in Canada. That Christmas I ended visiting my maternal grandparents and subsequently family friends. Though I never matched the vibrancy of my mother for Christmas there was at least one year I went mad to decorate my house. It was a short-lived passion. For one thing there weren’t many people with whom to share trappings. In addition it was a great deal of work and I subsequently found I could bear the deprivation. I transitioned the obsession by collecting material for my mother – who promptly shared half or more of it with my sister. Eventually I resorted to hanging one small plastic wreath on a rusted nail by the front door of my house. I recollect that I had found the wreath on my lawn after it had blown away from someone else’s house. It was so small and static as to be laughable but nonetheless enduring. I couldn’t bring myself to reject it. For years it succeeded to be my sole acknowledgement of Christmas decoration. Naturally it was highly convenient as it required nothing further than to collect it from atop the wood pile in the garage once a year and afterwards replace it for another year!

Because my sister had a family of her own which competed for her time (not to mention the reciprocity expected with her in-laws) I sometimes spent Christmas Eve alone with my parents. My mother always prepared a traditional dinner of homemade tourtière pie and exceptional cole slaw. My father – who was from New Brunswick – often arranged to have a shipment of fresh oysters sent to him. He gleefully shucked them in the garage and greedily consumed them afterwards with little more than a splash of lemon juice.

The Christmas Eve dinner was by design restrained. On Christmas morning things began with a bang – usually Champagne and fresh squeezed orange juice, followed by croissants, homemade peach jam, scrambled eggs and filet mignon. The evening meal on Christmas Day was a feast nonpareil – turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, at least three other veggies presented in a gourmet manner and naturally flaming plum pudding for dessert.