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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