One year since my last visit and I am back on Vancouver Island. Like millions of other families in the world, my family is big on Christmas. Generally speaking holidays including birthdays are a big deal, but there is nothing quite as celebrated as Christmas. In fact in all the years that I have lived away from home, first in Vancouver and then later in Europe and other parts of Canada, I can count the number of times that I did not make it home for Christmas on one hand. Even growing up it was always the tradition that I would spend Christmas in Victoria with my mom, Aunt and Uncle, and my younger cousin who is like a sister to me. This meant that even visiting my dad and his side of the family had to happen post December 25th.
In reality this has never been a problem and I don’t see that it ever will be. I love our customs and our traditions. I can’t say that I am particularly fond of the traditional Turkey dinner, but no one does baking like my Aunty Donna. Her pumpkin pie is a classic and topped with whip cream it is absolutely delicious.
A more recent tradition that she’s started is to serve a warm gingerbread cake on Christmas Eve. My cousin made a rich Southern egg nog to accompany it and we added Appleton spiced Rum to cut the fat, yet somehow I’m not quite sure how 8 eggs and 250 ml of whipped cream could be good for anyone’s waste line or cholesterol, but whose counting calories on Christmas.
Breaking with tradition we also opted to exchange gifts between our families on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. My aunt likes this as it allows her more time to enjoy the experience rather than having to run between the living room and kitchen as she prepares the big bird.
As much as I love the hand made gifts, the wool socks and slippers, the Pandora charm, the books and on and on and on again. I start to get over whelmed. I feel guilty for all the pleasures and the extravagance for the generosity. It’s hard not to feel unworthy and insecure. I ask myself if the person I gifted to liked what I bought them or if they realized how much the gift cost and how much effort went into choosing it.
At the same time I love that I come from a family of givers, who get great pleasure out of making others happy, and out of sharing their talents. Can I honestly feel bad about that? Instead I can be thankful and truly grateful to be a part of this family and to share their love. Although one Christmas it might be a nice idea to forget gifts all together and spend a week in Mexico lying in the sun. Merry Christmas to all!