Monthly Archives: December 2012

Dad’s Christmas.

It began with the fresh spruce or pine tree that Dad would cruise through several tree lots beforehand to suss out who had “straight” trees.

 

Right.  A straight tree.

 

Then, he’d haul me around to different ones and pull a few out.  He’d get me to back up to see how straight it looked then give it a shake.  If a lot of needles fell out he’d put it back saying it was too dry to bring home.

 

We’d find a tree.  He’d throw it in the back of his red F150 half ton truck and we’d head home.

 

He’d pull out the tree stand and put the tree in the breezeway between the garage with a special cocktail of water, bleach and corn syrup he got from the New York Times one year to keep the tree healthy.

Then, we’d prep the living room.

 

This involved setting town clear plastic tarp in the entryway and the designated spot for the tree.  This spot was close to the door to eliminate as many needle droppings as possible.  It wasn’t about light or positioning or outlets for the Christmas lights… it was about needles.  He hated them!  He hated cleaning them up.  Even if I cleaned it up he hated knowing they were there on the blue/green tile floor.  And both he and I would miss one or two.  So when the tree came down after the Old Christmas date he’d walk by the door to get to the kitchen and he’d eventually pick a few off of his white socked feet muttering about needles.

 

This tree ritual lives on in my memory every year.  With love.  Because I miss it.  Because it made me smile.  Everyone has traditions they like to do or keep… Dad’s eccentricities were mine to keep.

 

I took over decorating the tree after Mom left and ended up donating all her ornaments to the Salvation Army so I could start a new tradition with my Dad.  Instead of an angry decorating tree ritual where my Mom would re-decorate after you we created memories to make Christmas a happy, joyful, spiritual place in our lives.

 

I miss him.  And this Christmas I’m creating my own tradition now that, after five years of grieving, I can start another fresh chapter in my life.

 

Oh, Christmas tree… Oh, and my tree?  Bought it online – fake, set up by a pole and pre-decorated so it’s definitely straight.

Dad carving the turkey!

Dad carving the turkey!

 

Pat Woods

My Aunt, before she passed, was quite sick with breast cancer.  She had it, we suspect, for over a year.  She did not have a family doctor.  She did not tell anyone she was sick.

I was in the hospital room when the doctor asked her why she had not gotten help earlier.  Her answer was “carelessness.”

I’m not sure what that meant. I do know that now without her around I miss her a lot.  I re-engaged her when I was out there to visit in Alberta and called when I was back in Nova Scotia.

We weren’t given the chance to rally around her and show her any family support.  Perhaps that’s how she wanted it.

I know that her suffering is over.  This Christmas I will light a candle for her and my deceased father but I will not follow her example.  I have a family doctor who I see even if I get the sniffles.  And I know that if I’m given the opportunity to fight a terminal disease I will take it.

She was my Mom’s best friend and sister to her ten siblings.  As we struggle to come to grips with her passing I simply want to let everyone know that time will heal this.

I completed Nanowrimo and wrote a book in a month.  I will edit it in January and submit it to outside editors for their work.  And, if it ever gets published it will be dedicated to the Aunt Pat I knew as a child – a skier, a bird watcher, a worker, a friend and gardener.