Merry Merry?

I have had a bit of a tough few days pre-Christmas, but thankfully I am through.

My cold/flu/whatever I picked up at the doctor’s office while attending to the Wee Gal’s shoulder injury was horrific and caused me to miss two ladies’ lunches, one dinner party, a holiday open house (and a partridge in pear tree…) ‘Well, boo hoo,’ you might be saying, ‘not exactly Homs.’

This is true, but it was still a dark time. I’m not a huge Christmas fan to start. Christmas reminds me of things like life-altering car wrecks and being hospitalized with measles. It’s nothing as dire as the story of the lad whose father whacked his mother with a fully decorated Christmas tree, but still nothing that might inspire the Hallmark Channel to create fake snow in July and hire Jennie Garth. Not yet, at least: I’m still hoping for my happy ending, mad fool that I am.

Even when Christmas has not involved something resembling a Lifetime Movie-of-the-Week, it’s always a bit of a downer. I come from a very small family and I have to split my children’s Christmas with their dad. What is an overly boisterous occasion for many is very subdued for us. Although I’m not Jewish, I can well relate to Giles Coren’s piece in Tatler:

Christmas in my childhood home in Cricklewood, with four Jewish grandparents and a great-aunt who was always a bit miserable because of her time in Auschwitz, was never much like Mr Fezziwig’s in A Christmas Carol. And then, after the oldies died, it was just the four of us with paper hats on and spirally kazoo things in our mouths. 

I’ve tried to remedy the situation. Like Mr. Coren, I’ve made several past attempts to marry into a more jolly holiday but my judgement on that front used to be worse than that of Frozen‘s Princess Anna. Where Coren managed to go “from Cricklewood to Downton Abbey in a generation,” I went from Cricklewood to Deadwood in a year. Clever girl am I.

I’ve tried the friends-as-family approach with much more success. I’ve expended a lot of effort in building a larger circle, particularly in my new community. I was thrilled to find myself with pre-Christmas invites a-plenty and so I took this illness thing very personally because I was not able to partake. There was lots of fist-shaking at the sky. There was also a lot of self-doubt that bubbled up, stemming in part from the issues raised in therapy and in part from being housebound: trapped on the inside looking out at a street filled with happy party-goers.

It all culminated in a great big Bah Humbug. And more fist shaking at the sky, of course.

I do make the holidays fun for the kids. We bake and watch movies and I do elaborate advent calendars and we dress up the dog like Santa.

And she’s complaining about her Christmas? 

We make an annual pilgrimage to see The Nutcracker, which is one of my very favourite things of all. This Sunday, we were to take the train to Big Smoke to see the James Kudelka version as, to me, it’s The Nutcracker. But the ice storm that ate Toronto foiled our plans to go downtown and the dog makes a most inadequate Sugar Plum Fairy. Although I was thankful that none of the huge trees on the property knocked out our power or did any damage, I was unable to refrain from more fist shaking at the ether.

It’s not really His fault, I suppose. He tried. By all accounts, Jesus was born in September in a hot climate. We were the solstice-loving idiots who decided that it was best to cram all of this celebrating into a time of flu and foul weather.

Silly us.

Of course, it’s not been all bleak. Some huge positives have come out of all the soul searching:

My closets have never looked better. I purged an entire small closet worth of clothes so I’m closer to that adore-everything-I-own capsule wardrobe I crave (apologies to GSL and my dry cleaner.) Plus, I figured out a fairly easy reno that will give the Wee Gal the closet she lacks (darn you, century homes!) by knocking out a portion of wall and taking the now-empty space from my room.

Another positive is that I have spent a lot of time talking things over with my family and talking about how we can establish new traditions, particularly on the Christmas occasions when the kids are with their dad.

I am starting to get a very fuzzy picture of what a career might look like going forward.

I discovered I am with a very good man, both in a storm and out of it. So that’s a good thing.

I was able to relieve myself of all guilt associated with booking my upcoming trip to warmer climes. The need/want line shifted when I was sick as a dog with my world covered in ice.

And I learned that even the most destructive storm can result in beauty. And of course, that’s a message of Christmas too.

Stay warm, walk towards the light, and have a Merry Christmas. Even if you are a bit of a Scrooge like me.


  1. I'm an old pro at this Jen. Once word reaches Gucci and the other high-end boutiques that you've gone on a woe-is-me closet purge, they are just going to hire on more staff as you'll be buying with both hands by Groundhog's Day.Merry Christmas! and I love that pup of yours!


  2. Extending as warm an arm as I can to wrap around your virtual shoulders, Jen. I love having extras for Christmas, and would share ours with you if I could!So glad to hear about your silver linings. Happy festive season to all of you. xxx


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