Algonquin in Winter

This past long weekend, I finally made it out skiing.  Not just any old skiing, but a trip to Algonquin.  I love Algonquin – not even just the park… the whole area.  Anywhere from Algonquin to Northern Ontario (anyone who’s been to Sioux Lookout knows Algonquin Park isn’t in ‘Northern Ontario’… not really), give me wilderness.  The woods, the trails, the lakes the rivers, the rustling of the leaves.  If I could live in the woods and commute a reasonable distance to my work (or just not work at all), I wouldn’t even hesitate.  If I could live up there, but couldn’t take technology with me, you all might just be lucky enough to get a brief final note from me.  “Gone forever to woods, bye”, maybe.  

My hermit-type habits are a discussion for another day, though, because I wasn’t solo on this trip.  I didn’t even sleep in a tent!

My friend S (my friend who does cross-country skiing too), Gwynn, and I stayed at the Motel 6 in Huntsville.  If you’re looking for a dog-friendly place to stay in that area, I cannot recommend them enough.  They don’t charge extra for (or make a fuss about) dogs, they actually welcome them!  They might have really weird motel-6 sheets, but just look at what they gave Gwynn when we got there!

20140216_193630
poop bags (gentle reminder, I’ll take it), a ball, and an assortment of cookies. The last place I’d stayed at with Gwynn before this tried to claim that they had no ‘pet friendly’ rooms available, and that their records didn’t show that we’d called and booked and said we were bringing the dog. it’s a nice change

We drove up Saturday morning at some unholy hour, stopping on our way up at Henrietta’s – this amazing bakery between Huntsville and Algonquin.  Try their Muskoka Clouds, or their bread… or anything, really.

We spent our morning attempting to ski one of the ungroomed trails.  It was a learning experience, and what I learned was simple:  A trail I remember as being flat-ish in summer is not necessarily a good trail for skiing!  It was lovely, though.

When we stopped by the front gate to get a day-permit to the park, we were told of three spots where the trails were groomed.  And no-dogs-allowed.  Well that’s just no fun, though I could understand it.  It put a bit of a cramp in our plan until I remembered the Rail Trail.  For those of you not often in Algonquin, it’s a bicycle trail (in summer) that runs along where there used to be a lumber train through the park.  Even ungroomed, that trail would be guaranteed to be flat!

My suspicion about why this trail isn’t advertised as groomed is that, having an access right in Mew Lake Campground (one of the few that remains open in the winter), they expected the trail to get at least partly ruined by all the people walking on it.  I feel no guilt about bringing the dog out on that trail, especially not after witnessing the number of walking groups that came out and almost on purpose walked directly on the ski lines.  For those of you who don’t cross-country ski – if you see those perfectly spaced ski-trail lines?  Don’t walk on them!

I also had a chance to take out a coworker’s snowshoes.  Gwynn was unimpressed at my ability to completely block the trail when he was trying to get through, but I definitely appreciated them on the steep parts of the trail – they had a lot more grip than my boots would have, and I didn’t need to slide down on my bum or clamber up hoisting myself from tree to tree.

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We also had pie and deep fried foods and were asleep before 10pm, so you just know it was a good time.

Halloween

My favourite thing about Halloween is pumpkin carving.  And costumes.  And candy.  And the movie ‘the nightmare before christmas’, and hocus pocus too.  But mostly the pumpkin carving.  In our family, it’s kind of the thing.

My office changed from having an office costume contest this year, to having an office pumpkin decorating contest.  My initial response was, yes, finally, I shall triumph over all! with maybe a bit of evil laughter.  I don’t often meet people who meet my level of pumpkin carvery.

my pumpkin from this year - tonight, he'll have a glowy tiny pumpkin hanging over his slightly baffled angler-fish face
my pumpkin from this year – tonight, he’ll have a glowy tiny pumpkin hanging over his slightly baffled angler-fish face

However, my office then clarified that, for insurance purposes, inviting us to come to the cafeteria and handing out knives and gourds would be a no-go.  But you’re welcome to come join us in the cafeteria for some pumpkin decorating!  We’ve got pompoms and furry wire things and glitter and paint!  Yay!

And I was just like, “no carving?  What does that even mean?  Why won’t you give me a knife?”

you don't trust me with a knife?  what about my carving tools?  I have many tiny pointy things
you don’t trust me with a knife? what about my carving tools? I have many tiny pointy things

FYI, painted on eyebrows are fun.  Trust me, it doesn’t matter what face you make to go with them, it really works.

Dinosaurs - Friday Nights at the ROM, in full costume only happens once a year, and it is MAGICAL
Dinosaurs – Friday Nights at the ROM, in full costume only happens once a year, and it is MAGICAL

I’m an ARTISTE, I don’t decorate pumpkins.  Look at my face!  Look at it!  And costumes aren’t even the most important part of Halloween for me.  PUMPKINS are!

FACE!  BOVERED!
FACE! BOVERED!
FACE!
FACE!

I considered just carving my competition pumpkin at home (I will stand by my convictions!), but decided I’d play by their rules.  It might have been a decision impacted by the fact that the ‘decorating’ party included a couple cauldrons of candy.  I might be an addict.

So I made a non-carved pumpkin, in exchange for sweet sweet tiny chocolate bars
So I made a non-carved pumpkin, in exchange for sweet sweet tiny chocolate bars

And on the morning of halloween, I woke up inspired not to paint my face, but to go for something easier and somewhat more work appropriate.

I've even got a beard.  But no axe... because if the insurance people were worried about pumpkin carving, I can only imagine what they'd have to say about an axe.
I’ve even got a beard. But no axe… because if the insurance people were worried about pumpkin carving, I can only imagine what they’d have to say about an axe.

Happy Halloween, I hope it’s full of spooks and ghouls and frightful things!  And candy.

Christmas Cookies

There’s nothing quite like this time of year.  It’s dark, dreary and cold.  If you’re lucky, you get snow, which, of course, leads to shoveling, scraping off frozen windshields, loss of traction, and traffic, because no-one was expecting actual snow to fall again this year.  Frolicking and snowmen and tobogganing and that wonderful silence caused by a thick blanket of cold also come, but sometimes it’s hard to remember them whilst hauling heavy loaded shovels of slush-snow to the enormous pile on your yard.

It’s definitely a time of year for hibernating.  The neighbours you had conversations with all summer long will be like ghosts, flitting between car and house with a scarf garbled shout of “Holidays!  Stress!  how about those hockey guys?! So dark out!” in your general direction.

You may have noticed a certain dearth of bears, and me, in the past few weeks. Hibernation.  With a dash of “go inspect culverts in the middle of nowhere” and “SO. MANY. FESTIVE EVENTS.”  It’s only the start of winter, after all – the start of winter is when everyone tries to fight the cold, fight the urge to just cocoon oneself in flannel and down and wait for spring.  And what better lure than food?

With that in mind, I figured I’d share with you some of my culinary adventures the past few weeks.  If you’re a longtime reader of my blog, you might remember me explaining some things about my Grandpa.  Including mention of the cow-shaped-cow-cutting-board he made for my parents, but with no picture.  What a travesty!  I’m remedying it now.

The pictures below are of cookies I tried out whose recipes I found in blogland.  Click the pic and it will take you to the recipe at the blog.

observe the solemnity of the cow.  Even big green pinweels decorating her flank cannot shake that bovine calm
observe the solemnity of the cow. Even big green pinweels decorating her flank cannot shake that bovine calm.  The cookies were a lot easier than I thought they’d be, and they were a huge hit at my friend’s “Come for a holiday dinner, surprise, it’s actually an engagement party!” Party.  Though of course the ring (and maybe the happy couple) did take center stage
These are going to become a yearly tradition for me - Czech Linz cookies.  I made them with homemade spiced pear jam filling, and some with tasty IKEA lingonberry jam.
These are going to become a yearly tradition for me – Czech Linz cookies. I made them with homemade spiced pear jam filling, and some with tasty IKEA lingonberry jam.
Alright.  I know it doesn't look good.  Doodle looked at this picture and commented that it looked like I'd taken cuts out of our Cowting board, to reveal the beef underneath.  They are, however, delicious cookies.  They're white chocolate and cherry shortbread, and they taste delicious.  They do, however, look like salami, even with white chocolate drizzled over them.  My suggestion is that they might be improved by NOT adding the food colouring.  White chocolate chunks just don't dye red, and that didn't improve things at all.  Taste, though, was divine!
Alright. I know it doesn’t look good. Doodle looked at this picture and commented that it looked like I’d taken cuts out of our Cowting board, to reveal the beef underneath. They are, however, delicious cookies. They’re white chocolate and cherry shortbread, and they taste delicious. They do, however, look like salami, even with white chocolate drizzled over them. My suggestion is that they might be improved by NOT adding the food colouring. White chocolate chunks just don’t dye red, and that didn’t improve things at all. Taste, though, was divine!
These are my favourite cookies of all time.  They make me think of Santa, and snow falling, and lights flickering on a christmas tree and all things good.  The family recipe Ginger Snap, chewy and delicious on the inside, with a snap around the edges.  And I'm letting you all see the recipe.  Tis the season of giving, after all.
These are my favourite cookies of all time. They make me think of Santa, and snow falling, and lights flickering on a christmas tree and all things good. The family recipe Ginger Snap, chewy and delicious on the inside, with a snap around the edges. And I’m letting you all see the recipe. Tis the season of giving, after all.

          Our Family Ginger Snaps

Ingredients:

– 3/4 cup Shortening

– 1 cup Sugar

– 1/4 cup Molasses

– 1 egg

– 1/2 tsp Salt

– 2 cups Flour

– 2 tsp Baking Soda

– 1 tsp Cinnamon

– 1 tsp Cloves

– 1 tsp Ginger

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit.

Cream the shortening with a mixer.  Add sugar gradually, then add molasses.  Cream well.

Add egg.

Sift flour, salt and spices together, then add to the mixture.

roll into walnut sized balls.  Roll the balls in sugar

lay out on the baking sheet and press down with the bottom of a glass.

Bake approximately 10 minutes, or top is barely showing golden colour.

The Cat who ate the Canary?… more like “The Dog who ate the Turkey”

It’s a bit late, I know, but I have a Christmas tale to tell.  I failed completely to take a full picture of the tree this year, though I did take some pictures of my favourite ornaments.

I love these birds... they just snuggle into their pretty white nests and get tucked into the branches 🙂

I didn’t really feel the urge to take a picture of the tree because it didn’t take long for it to look a bit… sparse, shall we say.

like this, buuut... the other way around...

Going backwards a bit, I recently started playing a game with Gwynn.  It’s called “The box game” since I’m unoriginal and unimaginative in naming things.  Basically, I put all his toys in a box that is in our living room (half tidying, half game), and when I’m trying to get him to play with me a bit, I’ll get all excited and point at the box and say something along the lines of “oooh, what’s in the box?!”.  He’ll pick up on the excitement and rummage through the box, and pull something out… and we’ll play.  I’ll admit, this isn’t exactly groundbreaking.  It does make him immensely excited about whatever toy he chooses (sometimes he pulls some out before picking one to actually start playing with), and the box has become a solo game for him as well.  It’s like Christmas – the excitement of rummaging through a box.

You hear on a regular basis that dogs don’t generalize well.  This explains why Gwynn is so good at the play dead command when we’re in the living room, and sometimes just stares at me when we’re visiting my grandma.

Well, Gwynn generalized right out of his toy box and into the Christmas spirit.  With the same forced nonchalance as a toddler trying to walk out of the kitchen with the entire bag of cookies, Gwynn would walk up to the tree to inspect it.  He would oh-so-gently pluck an ornament off a branch, and ever so casually walk away from the tree.  If he could whistle, he would.

pleased with himself is an understatement of his facial expression upon leaving the tree.

Party pooper that I am, I would calmly take the ‘toy’ (aka tiny Santa, frosty plushie, little twig reindeer, or childhood Christmas art) and hang it back on the tree… higher.

Gwynn was baffled as to why I wasn’t playing the game properly.  I was really determined that I wouldn’t be dealing with Gwynn having to poop out a small very pointy-hatted Santa.

As the days until we removed the ornaments, packed up the boxes of not-toys, and unceremoniously kicked our conifer to the kerb went by, the tree looked more and more off-balance.

Gwynn was baffled further, when, upon receiving a plush camel for Christmas, I didn’t hand it over.  What did I mean, ‘it’s not for you’?  It’s a stuffie!  Stuffies are for dogs!

Who says dogs can’t generalize?

Happy Holidays!

What’s more festive than a dog in a hat?  Nothing.

Happy Holidays from me to you.  Be safe, be happy, and, if you have the opportunity, be with the people you love!

Since I know not all of you are participators in Christmas, here’s an alternate shot, too!  Whatever you celebrate this season, I hope it’s fantastic.

Also, “You’re a Wizard, Harry!”

The Nightmare Before Christmas

My absolute worst Christmas memory is of finding myself in the mall – the BIG mall – within about two days of Christmas.  I bet I tainted that Christmas for everyone in the family, too.  Considering the drugs I was on, it’s amazing that I even remember this, but that just proves how terrible it was.

... but less happy

Drugs, you ask?  Rewind a bit.  A few days before the start of the Christmas holidays that year, I got my wisdom teeth removed.  Rewind a few weeks from that day, and I was sitting in a surgical dentists’ office downtown listening to the man describe in excruciating detail just what he’d be doing in my mouth (I also had a cyst in the front of my mouth to remove.  Let’s just say getting that out would require… peeling…).  I spent the rest of the day trying not to vomit.  I have far too vivid an imagination.  The dental surgeon, in his explanation of the procedure, told me that I would be awake and just numbed throughout the process.  The process that involved… peeling

I decided that one of us would be unconscious before the procedure started, and he could choose which, but if he chose wrong, then I wouldn’t be getting my wisdom teeth out that day… and he might have a concussion.

Part of the problem with the drugs necessary to knock you out is that they do mean that you take longer to recover.  I don’t handle drugs well.  As an example, the last time I took the full ‘adult dosage’ of cough syrup, I told my university roommates that I couldn’t feel my feet.  They considered taking me to the doctor.

Surgery:  “Ten…nine… … … … … …ech…se’en… oh… woo dong?” (translation: “you’re done?”) the rest of the day, I was pretty out of it.  It required both my parents to manoeuvre me down three flights of stairs to the car.

Then they gave me Tylenol 3 – with codeine!  I was strung out the entire time I was taking them.  The other pill they gave me was an anti-infection pill that was required to be taken with food.  That caused my stomach to empty every time, and left me unable to eat again for another 6 hours or so, at which time (you guessed it!) I needed to take the anti-infection pill again.

Most of the week leading up to Christmas, I was a vegetable.  I watched “Bend it Like Beckham” on repeat for about two days, according to my family.  They just kept coming in and restarting it when the credits rolled.  A few months later, I saw the movie for what I thought was the ‘first time’.

When I was finally holding food down, and capable of dressing myself, I found myself at the mall with my mom and sisters.  I have no idea why – this would not be something my mom would ever choose to do, if she had a choice – but we were at the mall.  Less than two days before Christmas.

I yam what I yam... and I YAM HUNGRY

By this point, my stomach had shrunk to the point that, while I could eat, it would be something like ‘a piece of bread’, and then I was full.  But not for long, and when I wasn’t full, I was empty.  Gut-wrenchingly cramping, clawing, ravenously HUNGRY.  So I found myself in the hell that is ‘Malls at Christmas’, kind of high (not high enough), highly emotional (yes, my stomach does control my mood), Popeye-faced from swelling and easily exhausted.

The mall was packed with people reeking of desperation and sweat.  The lights were too strong, the heat overwhelming, the sales clerks too aggressively seeking sales, the tinny peppy Christmas music was loud and discordant in my ears.
oooh, this! Grandma will Love it!

I might have cried.  I don’t remember.  I wish the memory were just a nightmare.

I couldn’t even eat most Christmas foods– I dropped about 15 lbs (in the least healthy way possible) over the holidays that year.  And I still hate the mall, especially at Christmas time.  I do all of my shopping online or well in advance of November.  That way, it’s still thoughtful, but not blood- and tear-spattered.

Worst. Christmas. Ever.

Gone a Huntin’ Christmas Trees

This Saturday, we headed out to find ourselves the perfect Christmas tree.

What was it like?  Dog-filled.  There were an immense number of dogs of all sizes, helping their people find that perfect tree (not that any of those people found it, because we took the perfect tree home with us.).  This was great for Gwynn, though I felt bad about having to keep him on-leash for most of the time we were there.  A lot of people chose to ignore the ‘dogs must remain leashed’ rule, but I have a long list of reasons why that wouldn’t be the best idea.

  • There are people out there who are afraid of dogs.  But not afraid of Christmas tree hunting.  Let’s keep it that way, shall we?
  • Small children who are afraid of dogs.  But not afraid of Christmas Tree Hunting
  • Small children who aren’t afraid of dogs but lack pettiquette – they feel the urge to poke dogs in the eye, or smack them in the nose, or otherwise be mean to them.
  • Have I mentioned there were a TON of small children roaming free?
  • Axes and saws – people bring them, but don’t always have a protective cover for it.  Sometimes they even let their children carry it, but most of the time, the blade faces backwards, and is at about Gwynn-face level.
  • Other dogs.  Just because they brought their dog with them, doesn’t mean the dog is friendly.  Can you guarantee that your dog will absolutely not approach another dog without your go-ahead?  When you might not see that other dog (due to forest of tiny trees) until it’s right near you?
  • Horses.  The tree farm has them – they pull a wagon.  Gwynn went nuts every time he saw them.  We didn’t get close enough for him to try out his herding techniques on those massive not-sheep… or for him to get trampled by their giant steel-shod feet.
one of the wagons not pulled by horses... because being around the horse-drawn one produced this awful high-pitched wailing-Xena noise from Gwynn that threatened to rupture eardrums

Gwynn got to drag his leash when we found ourselves surrounded by emptiness, nothing but us and the conifers.  And he did get to meet a number of dogs, while he was on-leash, most of whom appeared, leashless, from between the trees, and whose owners were nowhere near to ask silly questions like, “is your dog friendly?”, or “Can Fido say hello?”.  It might not be thanksgiving anymore, but one thing I am thankful for is that my dog doesn’t get nervous in that type of situation.  We also met some nice on-leash dogs, and we did not meet some dogs that were on the not-friendly end of the spectrum.

Gwynn... in his new boots. More on that later.

My mom grew up with white spruceWHITE SPRUCE is, apparently, the only acceptable form of holiday tree.  WHITE SPRUCE.  Anything else is a sad, sorry excuse for a tree.  I hadn’t clued in until this year just how strongly my mom believes in this.

Could we find a single white spruce less than 10 feet tall?  No.  We’d have either had to cut the tree half-way up, or have the point curving down towards the floor in the house.  Entering the Blue Spruce area, you’d have thought we were turning traitor to my mom’s childhood and burning all the memories, soaked in kerosene.  But at least it wasn’t a … pine

Well, blue spruce at our Christmas tree farm was the right height, but kind of sad and sparse.  Clearly the spruce were all targeted by mother nature, regardless of the colour in their title.

It was a hard choice, but eventually the drastic inferiority of all the spruce wore her down.  She agreed, albeit unhappily, to choose a dreaded Scotch Pine.  It’s beautiful and full and christmas-tree shaped.  It’s still sitting on our back deck, waiting to be cut loose from the mesh wrapper they put it in for transportation.

Speaking of transporting your tree…

this is our tree... all bundled up (free with purchase of tree) in a mesh sack and strapped neatly (and safely) to the roof of the van. I swear, they relax back to normal tree shape quickly after you un-mesh them.
Or... you know... you could just... do this? The only reasonable explanation I could think of was that their tree was too big to go through the tree-wrapping machine. But it wasn't that big a tree...

I’m so excited for the christmas-ey smell that will fill our house once the tree is in place!  And last year, Gwynn didn’t once try to pee on the tree… I’m hoping it’ll be the same this year!  The trip was so much fun, though we missed having Doodle there (she’s off in exam-land in Ottawa).  That was one of the worst things about living away from home for school – I missed being home to go christmas tree hunting.

A Christmas Memory Too!

I was like James Bond, if 007 had one primary mission a year, and it was reconnaissance.  My dad was like a combination of Dr. No and Scrooge before he found the spirit of Christmas. Only, unfairly, in this particular Bond movie, Dr. No won.  He always won.

The mission?  View the wonder that was the Christmas tree on Christmas morning before breakfast.

Until that morning, the tree was brightly lit, hung to within an inch of its life with every single ornament we could fit on it, all dolled up and sparkly and beautiful.  And, until that morning, it had nothing under its boughs.

Between the time we went to bed (Christmas will come sooner the sooner you go to sleep – how hard is it to fall asleep after a statement like that?!) and the time we awoke in the morning, the magic happened.  Presents – set out Oh So carefully and beautifully, arranged around the Christmas tree, reflecting the twinkle of the lights out into the room off their brightly coloured paper.  Stockings that, the night before, had been merely cartoonish socks draped over a chair were stuffed with possibilities – chocolate, candy canes, coloured pencils, animal shaped erasers, and other small supplies(one time, I got a measuring tape!), and at least one Clementine.

The house rule was that no-one gets to go into the living room until after breakfast.  And, of course, the whole family had to be finished breakfast.

Soft boiled eggs, lots of bread for dipping in the eggs – we all loved Christmas breakfast (still do!), but that was the longest meal of my life!  First, waiting for my mum to finally emerge from upstairs hours and hours after the rest of the family had gotten up (or, looking back, around 8:30, unnaturally early for my mom), and then, waiting through an entire breakfast, knowing that the magic was just down the hall.

I tried everything to get an early glimpse of the living room.  No matter how early I woke up, or how quietly I crept down the stairs (sticking to the edges to avoid making them squeak), there he was.  Dr. No.  Sitting quietly in the dark kitchen, and refusing me entry to Christmas morning, coffee in hand.

My creeping skills and rising early skills were no match for his cheerful “Good morning!”

Diabolical, I tell you.

Switching from creeping to cunning, I would casually announce that I had to go pee.  Ever so innocently, I would stroll towards the hall – the hall leading to the washroom… and the holy grail of conifers!

Dr. No was too sharp, though, and just as cheerfully as he mocked me with good morning, he suggested I use the upstairs washroom.

I left my book in the living room?  Oh, I noticed that last night, and brought it out here for you!

I want to go see the tree?  Nope.

Can we eat breakfast now?  Not until your mother and sisters wake up.

I’ll go wake them up!  No.

I’m going to go get something upstairs… something that has nothing to do with waking mom up.  No.

Curses, foiled again!

When we finally emerged from the kitchen, stuffed and happy, and finally got to see the tree, glorious tree, it was as a family.  And, sitting comfortably around the tree, faces shining with reflected lights, we finally got to find out what Santa brought us.  In the other family tradition of passing out one present to each person and waiting as each person opened their card, then their gift, and admired it.

In the end, though, it wasn’t the flurry of paper as presents got ripped open, and it wasn’t finding out what we got.  It wasn’t even the fact that we were allowed candy canes or pieces of chocolate orange right after breakfast (along with a Clementine or two).  Christmas morning was seeing the tree all lit up and in its full glory, with the mystery of the newly arrived packages still intact.  And, for a long time, it was also the challenge of trying to be the first to do so.

Festive Intrusion

“The doorbell rang.”

“Are you sure?  I didn’t hear anything.  Maybe I should just…”

“No, Margie.  The doorbell rang.  Give them a minute to answer.”

Margaret frowned at her husband.  With the big red plaid coat and thick white beard – and even that goofy Santa hat – Bill was considerably better dressed for the weather.  She shivered and brushed her hands briskly up and down her burgundy coat.

The strains of ‘Deck the Halls’ drifted out from within the house.

The pitter patter of small feet came closer at high-speeds, and, with a squeal of maniacal laughter, one of their grandsons rammed full-tilt into the front door before running off.

Margaret rang the doorbell again.

Bill gave an impatient sigh, and tested the door knob.

With relief, they hurried inside.  Exhausted from the drive, they settled down beside the merrily crackling fireplace without announcing themselves, and soon fell fast asleep.

“MOOOOM! Santa and Missus Santa are DEAD!!!”

Margaret and Bill snapped awake and stared in surprise at the shrill little girl.

From the kitchen, a woman yelled, “Suze, remember what I told you about lying?  Santa doesn’t bring gifts to little girls who tell lies!”

“They’re ALIVE!” the little girl shrieked, delighted.  “They’re Alive, they’re alive!”

Margaret and Bill exchanged horrified looks.  They only had grandsons.

The woman who strode through the door was most certainly not their daughter.

Margaret asked, “1212 Partridge Street?”

“1212 Partridge TRAIL, actually,” the woman replied, pointing furiously towards the door, and Bill and Margaret beat a hasty retreat.

“Noooo!” the little girl wailed, “SANTA!”

“Santa has to go visit the other naughty children.  You’d better clean up your act if you want any presents.”

Margaret turned to her husband.  “The hat goes.”

As they drove away, snow began to fall.

***
Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

This is my first attempt at contributing to the Write on Edge’s Red Writing Hood writing prompt.  The prompt was to write a short piece beginning with The Doorbell Rang and ending with Snow began to fall that involves the holidays.

A Christmas Memory

We aren’t sure when she found out – I know that, after having had it ruined for me at a young age by my older cousin, I wasn’t the one to tell her.  It’s a kind of devastating truth, if it comes too soon.  I might not like my sisters all the time, but I love them enough to be unwilling to smash those rose (and green) coloured glasses.

I blame Sergei.  The number of times she came home upset about something that Sergei did, throughout the years, I can imagine that this little boy I never met was probably to blame.  I’m pretty sure he was in her classes around the time she lost the faith.  Or at least, around the time we figured out that she had lost it.

Regardless of when it happened, the more important part is what her reaction to it was.  It seemed like she genuinely believed she was saving Christmas for us by maintaining the charade.  Like, since she was the youngest child, and the last to still believe, that she was the only one standing between us and a desolate, tree-less, cookie-less, present-less December, hardly more exciting than any other soggy, slushy winter month.  I think she thought the rest of us only participated in the big day as a way of helping to maintain her childhood innocence, and that, once she had lost that, we’d move on to other things.  Less present-filled things.

ma-king christmas, ma-king christmas, Making CHRISSSSTMASSS

She became the defender of Christmas.  She was so over-the-top super-duper excited about it.  She talked about Santa like she was being sent secret messages on a nightly basis.  She squealed with excitement – the same squeal me-at-10(or 24…) would emit if I found a horse with a bow on it in our back yard – when she saw Santa from the Santa-picture-line.

She brought holiday spirit like a cheerleader strung out on tinsel and candy canes.  What do we love? CHRISTMAS!  When do we love it? ALWAYS and FOREVER!

She didn’t just like the season, she bowled through the festivities with enough intensely ferocious BELIEF that she could have single-handedly won the Leafs the cup.  Mall Santas everywhere were probably waking up a-la-Tim-Allen to find themselves with a full natural white beard and 30 extra pounds of jolly belly.

She decked the halls like Muhammad Ali decked… other boxers…

"Take that, disbelief!"

She rocked around the Christmas tree like a hurricane.

She was ensuring that Christmas, as we knew it, stayed right where it ought to be.  IN. OUR. HEARTS. DAMMIT!  She was really, really worried she wouldn’t get presents if mom and dad knew that she was no longer a believer in the man in a big red coat.

Much as we found cracked-out-on-Kringle Doodle to be entertaining, we found it alarming enough that we did our best to convinced her that Christmas wouldn’t end (and, more importantly, the presents would keep coming) just because she knew the big secret about Santa.  As long as, of course, she didn’t share this knowledge with ANYONE.