merry x-mas

Julia asked me how long I’d been spend­ing Christmas at their house. We fig­ured out this was the sev­enth year, cause I have pic­tures of Ginger from 2005, before she died. I can’t say I remem­ber each Christmas dis­tinct­ly, aside from a few extra faces and occa­sion­al make­outs that cause some to stand out more than oth­ers. It’s strange to think that I’ve known Braiden for more than half his life. I per­pet­u­al­ly think of him as being sev­en.

The Rogers'

The kids are get­ting old­er, no longer up at 5am and anx­ious­ly wait­ing by the presents until they’re allowed to wake up the par­ents. The idea of Santa has long been dis­pelled. Braiden’s giv­en up being a cen­tre for goalie, lost his post-sea­son scruff cut, and at 13 is only an inch short­er than me. Nicole’s done most of her grow­ing and will be legal in four months, but at the age where she’s still some­one’s daugh­ter instead of her own woman. Julia’s sport­ing a new voice and pierc­ing, but has kept all the sass that comes with being the mid­dle child.

It’s a hec­tic house­hold with­out airs or for­mal­i­ties. You’ll see some­one draped on a sofa in every room, or hear some­thing hap­pen­ing on every floor. One per­son is often done eat­ing before every­one has fin­ished serv­ing them­selves, yet you’ll nev­er feel the need to do more than find an appro­pri­ate blan­ket. With such an uncon­cerned atmos­phere, I always feel right at home.

Lucky Pearl necklace

A “Lucky Pearl” neck­lace, that comes with an actu­al oys­ter in a tin that must be shucked to get the pearl. I have no idea what to think of this.

This is the only day of the year that I fol­low any kind of tra­di­tion. Here it’s nev­er for the sake of tra­di­tion itself, but rather because so many things take more time than can be afford­ed until the hol­i­days. Every year these tra­di­tions include:

  • Seafood chow­der for din­ner on Christmas Eve.
  • The mak­ing of gum­drop cake, blue­ber­ry pie, and a gin­ger­bread house.
  • One big gift (usu­al­ly elec­tron­ics or sports equip­ment) and lots of small gifts (usu­al­ly clothes) for each per­son.
  • Me cook­ing break­fast on Christmas morn­ing, which con­sists of 2 pounds of bacon and sev­en eggs over-medi­um.
  • The annu­al game of Monopoly.
  • Shirley ask­ing each child if they’re hap­py, indi­vid­u­al­ly and in the spare moments they find togeth­er through the day.
  • Watching real­i­ty TV marathons and pro­vid­ing plen­ty of cat­ty com­ments about any­one unfor­tu­nate enough to be on screen. This year it was Storage Wars and Duck Dynasty and the con­fir­ma­tion that I don’t miss TV at all.
  • Spending time with kids who are always out­word­ly thank­ful and appre­cia­tive and make me believe in the idea of a fam­i­ly of my own.
  • Shirley tak­ing the whole day to cook her mas­sive turkey din­ner.
  • Me tak­ing home all the dark meat, cause it’d oth­er­wise be thrown away by a fam­i­ly who only eats white (fol­lowed by a week of turkey meals for me and the kit­ties before I get sick of it and have to freeze the rest)

Even Snoopy gets a dol­lop of cream cheese and occa­sion­al slice of bacon, but now he’s so spoiled that he turns his nose up at the turkey.

girl and cat

Nicole usu­al­ly wears her favourite new clothes through­out the day, and Snoopy begs for the back door to be open so he can take in the win­ter air.

Shirley went all out and bought me $60 worth of assort­ed green and herbal teas, which is insan­i­ty from a per­son I see only once a year. One of these is a lime gela­to blend that includes apple pieces, pineap­ple, lemon­grass, lime yogurt, and sen­cha green tea, and with a lit­tle hon­ey it’s like a delight­ful hol­i­day stereo­type in a mug.

She’s the only per­son I see at Christmas, and so the only per­son with whom I do any sort of gift exchange. Every year she asks me what I want, which means admit­ting that she does­n’t know me well enough to know what to get me, but is also say­ing that she’d nev­er let some­thing like that stop her from being kind.

couch potatoes

Our usu­al spots on the couch. Obviously, Julia is the spit.

It only takes us a few min­utes to catch up on a whole year. Lots of things have hap­pened, but lit­tle has changed. It’s the same old con­flict, the same old love sto­ry, the same old dra­ma, the same old lives. We are who we are already, and we don’t need to go any deep­er than that to enjoy each oth­er’s com­pa­ny when we only get to see each oth­er once a year.


  1. Beautiful fam­i­ly. I can almost feel the warm atmos­phere from here. It seems like they’re your Christmas fam­i­ly in Ottawa, such kind peo­ple dis­play­ing the true spir­it of Chrismas.

  2. Merry belat­ed Christmas, Jeff!

  3. It’s been so long since I could be with my sur­ro­gate fam­i­ly-friends at hol­i­days. I miss it.

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