There is a beautiful ad in Ireland for An Post, the postal service: “The moment you send a card, it’s Christmas”.
Christmas is my favourite time of year. There is a slowing of pace and warming of spirit. Perhaps its the collective spirit of preparing for one big event, a feeling of togetherness. I love the mulled wine, the long days Christmas shopping to find the right gift, walking around toy shops just to see, to remember, to believe. I love the ads; the Coca-Cola ad, the Guinness ad, the Cornflakes ad, the Budweiser ad, the Penney’s ad, and the afore-mentioned, An Post ad, with the tune “Walking in the Air”. I was born, raised and still a practicing Catholic, and to me, it is the spirit of hope and love that shouts louder than the commercialism. Christmas Eve, just after Christmas Eve Mass, just before falling asleep, those moments are pure golden. In that small amount of time, magic is real, hope is strong and love cloaks a land. With the candles lit on our window sills, I fall asleep ever year, believing in more than just what we humans offer.
I am a strict Decemberist, or rather was, and ignore the trappings until December 1st. Christmas in Canada changes that. All our Christmas messages must be in the post by the 29th November. So, a week early, I sat yesterday morning, with my ski-aches, my pen and my Christmas cards. It looked like Christmas outside, the snow, the cold, the trees along Banff Avenue. A week early, I embraced the holiday spirit.
There is so much I wanted to put in there; I wanted to send a hug to my best friend and the Christmas Cake I always make her. I wanted to put my hand on my Mother’s shoulder as she read my card to her and whisper that it is ok, I am happy, I will be home soon. I wanted to pour a glass of Baileys for my aunt and enjoy our usual festive beverage in front of her open fire in her sitting room. I wanted to show my nieces and nephews the snowmen I built outside, and the carrot- noses the deer ate overnight. I wanted to build one with them, and I wondered if their Christmas would be white. I wanted to sit with my brother and my sisters and remember Christmas past, of sleepless Christmas Eves and the best gifts, of the love of our parents and how lucky we were. The BMX and the roller blades, the doll’s house our nieces now play with, the monster munch and the first walkman, remember washing our dolls and dressing them in their best so that Santa knew we cared for our toys.
So often Christmas cards are hastily written, another thing that has to be done. Yet, a Christmas card offers an opportunity. It gave me the chance to say thank you, to say I miss you, to renew old friendships and mark new ones. In writing a card, I was gifted the opportunity to look at who is in my life and how they have helped me, supported me, stood by me this year, this long, fantastic, scary, different year. Those absent are missed and I send a silent card to Heaven. I hope when they are opened, the receiver stops, remembers the memories shared and feels the spirit in which it was written. To you, with all my love. I’m glad you are here, with me.
The cards are sent; it is Christmas here in Canada.