#NO MORE SLEEPS
Like Julie Andrews, at Christmas time I like to think of a few of my favourite things. For me, these things include FROOT LOOPS and macaroni shells. In fact, it would be very hard for me to imagine a holiday without them.
Reading this, there are probably a lot of people channeling their inner Martha Stewart right now who are absolutely horrified with my selections. After all, how could one possibly choose FROOT LOOPS and macaroni shells over turkey, stuffing, and grandma's cookies? We can come back to that later though. Right now, I'd like to tell you about another one of my favourite holiday things; "no more sleeps."
Like most children who celebrate Christmas, I found it very hard to wait. It always seemed like I was waiting to do something, especially during the holidays.
First, there was waiting for the December TV Guide to arrive with the Saturday paper so I could see when all the best Christmas specials were coming on. Then, after carefully reading it cover to cover, waiting for my Mom to get home from her night shift at the hospital to negotiate staying up late to watch all the best shows.
Second, there was waiting for my Dad to come home with the car so we could visit the church parking lot and pick out the very best Christmas tree. Later, there was more waiting while my Dad set up the tree, put the lights on, and secured it to the wall with fishing line so the tree wouldn’t fall over when our cat Mitten climbed it. Afterward, I waited with my brother on the couch to see how long it would take for said cat to climb the said tree.
Next, there was waiting to bake my favourite shortbread cookies with my mom to take to the Taylor’s annual holiday party. Also, waiting to be old enough to stay at the party until the very end so I wouldn’t miss a thing.
A big one was waiting to get dressed up to go see Santa at the mall to tell him I wanted an Easy-Bake Oven. Which, by the way, Santa never brought. My mom explained that teary Christmas morning that Santa most likely thought they were a fire hazard and that my gift, a Barbie doll and tea set, were probably, in Santa’s opinion, a more “sensible choice.”
I wasn’t buying what she was selling though. So, I waited to go back to school after the Christmas holidays to find out if any of my classmates got one. When I did, I kindly offered to come to their house and pretend to be the Fire Chief so we could safely bake a Betty Crocker Cherry Chip Vanilla cake together.
Finally, there was the granddaddy of all Christmas waits, which was of course, waiting for Santa to come so you can open your presents.
As you can imagine, with all this anticipation, I was pretty wound up from December 1st to December 25th. In order to save my sanity, and hers, my mother started telling me early on the number of sleeps before everything so I wouldn’t lose my mind. When I became a parent, I used this same strategy with my sons and it worked beautifully.
In 2018 both my sons left home to see the world. To start, they landed lucrative jobs at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. This meant that last year they could not come home for the holidays. When I asked them what they wanted for Christmas, both said without missing a beat, “time with you mom and your turkey dinner.”
To say I was touched by their request would be the understatement of the year, but what they wanted seemed virtually impossible. To begin with, I was in Ontario and they were in Alberta - flights were not cheap. To make matters worse, the kitchen in their apartment was about the size of a matchbox and the stove wasn’t much bigger. In fact, their stove was about the size of an Easy-Bake Oven.
For days I wracked my brain about how I could make this Christmas wish happen. In my head I heard my mother saying “wouldn’t dinner together at the beautiful Banff Springs dining room be a more sensible choice?” Of course it would, but it wouldn’t be the same.
While carefully unwrapping my other two favourite holiday things; my perfectly preserved 19-year-old FRUIT LOOP wreath, and 16-year-old Macaroni shell decoration the kids made me in Kindergarten, I found the answer I needed. It was all in the packaging: I would make dinner in my own kitchen, and then courier it - with WestJet!
Not to brag or anything, but my turkey dinner is legendary. Short of my Strawberry Rhubarb pie, it is the very best thing I can cook, and I didn’t hold back anything for this occasion. I prepared the turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberries, lasagna, meatballs, vegetables, sausage rolls, cookies, then I sealed and froze everything. On the day I left I packaged it all in a suitcase and presented it to the very nice flight attendant at check-in. When I explained the contents of my bag might attract a little attention from the sniffer dog team, she told me people do this all the time-who knew! She was also so touched that she did not even charge me for checking an extra bag.
Just like my FROOT LOOP wreath and macaroni shell decorations, dinner arrived perfectly preserved. Plus, I got to use my very own Easy-Bake Oven to serve it. What made this day even more special was that the boys invited a few of their friends from Australia and the UK to join us. I have never seen 6 guys so thankful for a home-cooked meal, especially the stuffing. Most importantly, we were all so grateful to be together far away from home and were reminded about the true meaning of Christmas.
Exactly one a year later, I am still waiting. I am waiting at the airport for my sons to return home from Australia. After 18 months, five countries, 65,165 kms, and a 22-hour flight, there are thankfully no more sleeps. In reality, I am fifty-two. In my head, I am still a super excited seven-year-old, trying hard not to lose my mind.
Warmest wishes to everyone and yours for a joyous, peaceful holiday season and bright new year!