Christmas draws closer, but I know I don’t need to tell you that. Who among us is not scrambling to get the last gifts bought, the Christmas dinner menu sorted out, perhaps the last cards written, all the while carrying on with our day jobs? It is a busy time of year, and if you’re anything like me, you find it stressful. Each year I say I won’t let it get to me, and each year I do let it get to me.
But anyway, this Christmas will be distinctly different for Raymond and me in one way: we will be celebrating it at the Manse, a totally new experience. In other ways, though, it will be familiar: we have transported all our Christmas ornaments and gewgaws and whatnots from Montreal to the Manse.
(One item of whatnot was the Christmas-tree stand, which I bought several years ago because it was identical to the one my family used in Queensborough all those years ago when I was growing up at the Manse. It is obnoxiously difficult to work with, and Raymond hates it. But being the very nice person that he is, he [somewhat grudgingly] agreed to use it for one more [and only one more] Christmas, in honour of its Manse-relatedness. I think that my mum and siblings will give a smile of recognition when they see it on Christmas Day.)
Something we both treasure about our Christmas ornaments and gewgaws and whatnots is that each one has a story. We’ve never gone to Zellers or Canadian Tire and bought a box of ornaments; all of ours are individual, and almost all have been picked up on our travels. There are ornaments that are mementos of France, of Maine, of Vermont, of Port Hope, of Massachusetts, of New Hampshire, of Texas (!), and of course of Montreal. And there are Boston Red Sox-themed ornaments, because one of us is Raymond, who is a diehard fan. As, actually, am I.
And there’s the one that’s probably my very favourite, a piece of baler twine from the Sedgwick family farm in Haliburton County, twisted into a circle and adorned with red and green ribbon. A great reminder of my father, long ago the minister at St. Andrew’s United Church in Queensborough (which is why he and his family – us – lived at the church Manse) and also throughout his life the person who worked the Sedgwick farm.
Finally, there is the tree of books! A few days ago I posted a photo that Raymond had seen on Facebook, a Christmas tree made out of books and strung with lights. It was a great idea for us, owners of many thousands of books, and Raymond was true to his word and built one at the Manse last weekend. And here it is:
So yes, the Manse is pretty much decked out and ready for Christmas. But are we? Poor Raymond in the past 36 hours has acquired a horrific cold, complete with brutal cough. And on top of that, there is just so much to do before we welcome my family to the Manse for Christmas! Good lord, will we ever get it all done?