Christmas has finally come to our house. After several years of being absent, or briefly stopping by for the perfunctory day visit, it’s come for an extended stay. This is quite possibly due to us enticing it with the alluring scent of a Grand Fir standing proudly in our kitchen. We’ve gotten creative this year. Instead of multicolored indoor lights, we bedecked this tree with icicle lights and all of the designer ornaments our grandmother has bought us the past few years. We’ve diligently watered it four times a day to ensure that the needles stay fresh and quite attached to the boughs. The Christmas Spirit even kissed Josie, our new kitten, and she’s restrained from batting any ornaments down off of either tree – the Grand Fir and the fake one that shall not be named in our living room.

Christmas was coy with us during this visit, possibly because the past few years have been so strained and harried. No presents appeared under these trees until the 23rd, and then the boxes and bags multiplied with a vivacity matched only by the rate at which drool spews from my little one year old cousin’s mouth. Sales in my father’s gallery were mediocre until the last minute – when everyone seemed to snap out of the haze of Christmas preparation and realize that there were presents to be purchased. Then the flood began, the mall was stuffed as a stocking. Wrapping paper flew, the shelves grew emptier, and my father began to stress a little less.
Christmas was thorough with us this year. Our house was encapsulated in it’s own little snowglobe of goodwill. There was no fighting, except the usual bickering about who got to clean up little Josie’s “presents.” For once, we were all satisfied with the gifts we’d purchased, although every year one of us barely scrapes by in the realm of gift giving. This year it was K. She had to ask for a rather large advance on her paycheck to finish her shopping. And she did finish, but at 6 o clock on the dot (the time the mall closed) on Christmas Eve. All four of us children shared in the usual blizzard of comparing the items we’d procured for Mum and Dad, critiquing and complimenting. Even my grandmother and my Aunt K endured each other’s company for a few hours to celebrate the holiday together.  Christmas smiled at us. There were enough presents to make everyone happy, including my father. My sister still needs to choose her biggest present – a puppy – which will in theory take place tomorrow. And as is tradition, one person completely cleaned up gift wise. This year, it was my Mum in terms of sheer amount of presents. She received more presents than my sister and I combined. A got the most quality gifts – a tv and an xbox, plus several very “hip” decorative items for his room centered around The Simpsons. But I still claim the coolest gift in the shape of a Lean Mean Grilling Machine from Mr. George Foreman. I’m anticipating making buffalo burgers on it. This requires persuading my Mum to let me have some buffalo meat, but I’m sure that won’t be extremely difficult.

And Christmas was strict with us. Though a laughing and joyful holiday, she has her limits. This morning didn’t start with presents. Christmas offered us tasks to complete before unfurling her ribbons. There was food to be prepared, rooms to vacuum and bathrooms to clean. And after opening gifts, all wrapping paper was bagged up, tissue paper and ribbons were carefully smoothed out, and boxes were flattened for future use. By the time dinner rolled around, Mum had reached her limit and left to have her own holiday meal. Our own Christmas ham was consumed in solemn silence, as a reminder not to misbehave again.

Though the day is over, Christmas is still lingering a bit in the household. Holiday cookies are scattered on the counter. Carols still play softly on the Bose. Stockings still hang stuffed by the chimney – though they’ve already spilled their guts to the world. And Christmas dances a slow waltz around my family room in the dying glow of the fire.