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Finally, a night with nothing to do.

It’s been a hell of a year. And not in a good way. My annus horribilis. The year is closing with a frantically busy, stressful fall barrelling full steam into the holiday season. I won’t be sorry to see 2013 end. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. I have no merry, no comfort and cheer, no tidings of great joy.

This is very unlike me. I love Christmas. I have a ridiculously large collection of Christmas albums. I always pick the biggest, bushiest tree I can find. I bake like a mad woman and then give it all away to co-workers and my peeps at the YMCA.

The first few years I had my own Christmas tree, I also crafted like a mad woman. Almost everything on my tree was homemade. My friend Nat and I would go to Christmas at the Forum every year to scout out ideas for homemade ornaments…and to buy a pound of fudge to split between us.

IMG_00000099Inspired by the crafts and fuelled by the sugar, we set about making a veritable army of snowmen one year. The assembly line in her living room moved efficiently to a soundtrack of the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s Charlie Brown Christmas and other favourites. Did we make those stocking ornaments together, too, Nat? I think we did. And also little bells made of upside down mini terra cot pots and a whole slew of tiny grapevine wreaths simply adorned with a couple of red berries and raffia bow.

IMG_00000101In my own living room rose a regiment of toy soldiers made of old fashioned clothespins and a platoon of paintbrush Santas. I IMG_00000113could wield a glue gun like nobody’s business. One year, I drilled holes through walnuts and chestnuts with the aim to make garland of them. After quickly ruining a drill bit, I settled for a dozen nut ornaments instead.

IMG_00000100The smells of Christmas are just as wonderful to me as the sights. Row upon row of clovey gingerbread men marched out of my kitchen and onto the tree. Sadly, many met their demise when Moe and Joe came on the scene. Who’d have thought cats would like baked goods? I’d walk by the tree each morning to find yet another head dangling without a body, and a pile of crumbs on the floor.

Over the years, I’ve also collected an assortment of non-homemade ornaments. There are some like my Grinch and shiny Lee Valley tin stars that I purchased, and many given to me by kind friends and co-workers. Together, they make a collection that perfectly reflects me and my usual Christmas spirit.

I‘ve hung them all on a smaller tree than usual this year. Not small on purpose, although it’s true that I am largely just going through the motions in my less than festive IMG_00000112state. No, it’s because it was so cold when I went tree shopping that the poor firs were frozen stiff, making it hard to tell the size and shape.

So the ornaments are hung, the less voluminous baking is done and distributed, the cards with brief greetings are mailed, the uninspired gift shopping is almost finished. And I finally have a night with nothing to do.

Cup of tea, a bit of leftover biscotti, some Downton Abbey…and a little blog post where I have to say to Nat and to all those who’ve gathered around my Christmas tree over the years, thank you for the merry memories. They are helping keep me afloat right now while my heart is heavy. And I know we will create new ones in the future.

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