My Mom was the biggest kid of all at Christmas. She started her shopping in summer and began her crafts right after the Christmas of last. She would plan her baking lists in August and was the first to decorate her home. The tree came out of storage faithfully in mid-November and was always the first up in the neighbourhood. Her newest crocheted ornaments would adorn the tree each year, heavy of sugar starch and a story to share of all who visited during the holidays. Mom was the first up on Christmas and some mornings even lingered hours before we were waken for 6:00 a.m.!
Mom’s Christmas traditions included many, the Quality Street chocolates among my favourite, (these originated from Halifax). The moment we saw the first of many purple octagonal chocolate tins, the excitement flowed. My mom was quite famous for re-taping the so-called “unopened” tins and putting them under the sofa, hidden from all. She selected the shiny purple chocolates which held a hazelnut and caramel centre. My sister would pout when she found they were gone.
Mom’s beloved scotch shortbread was a treasured family recipe for their melt-in-your-mouth buttery, creaminess. Whipped butter and sugar, beaten by hand and pressed with a crinkle-cookie cutter bejeweled with a shiny sugar ball, unmistakably signaled Christmas.
Dad bought her two favourite perfumes and Mom would giggle in surprise when she pulled them from her stocking. Our clothes would linger from her new perfume scent after her tickles, hugs and kisses shortly thereafter.
Christmas signaled family and times spent visiting friends. Food was abundant, hand in hand with storytelling and laughs. Many Christmases our parents struggled to put Christmas in front of us, but that was never evident to us from the joy, happiness and laughter they instilled in every Christmas.
As the grandchildren came along Mom got even more excited about Christmas; – her babies having babies. She even got to see Christmases that included her grandbabies having babies!
I had hoped this Christmas without her would never come and many days this year felt like cancelling Christmas. My Muslim husband pulled Christmas together this year. He did it for me, he did it for her. Mom would be proud of his efforts and she would not want us to cancel Christmas. She would want us each to celebrate Christmas in the ways she had taught us. (I eventually managed a few Christmas surprises she would be proud of that I’ll share after Santa delivers his presents!)
My Dad divided up the crocheted ornaments Mom had for her tree between his five daughters and himself. The detail and work Mom put into these ornaments is unparalleled. I had so many memories of Christmas past with my sisters, with her, with Dad as I placed them on the tree. My husband told me I was smiling as I placed them on the tree.
I did not buy the Quality Street chocolates as my husband won’t eat them and there’s too many for me. I was pleasantly surprised to find them in bulk at The Bulk Barn today and I bought only the ones I like. As I unwrapped each of them, I had so many memories flood back and nothing had changed from when I was 8 years old. I heard my sister complain of the purple ones being absent and Mom’s perfumed hug as she laughed and rocked me on her lap.
Merry Christmas to you Mom, I love you and miss you. Thank you for the Christmas memories.