Christmas Crazy: Welcome Home

December 23, 2015 in Canada, North America, Travelogue


My house, at this moment, is a rodeo.

At five thirty, when I gingerly tiptoed to my kitchen to quietly make tea and then tiptoe to my seat at the end of the kitchen table to watch the sunrise and make use of the only uninterrupted brain space that I have to get real work done, the house was idyllic. Clean. Quiet. Filled with the sounds of children breathing heavily in the darkness. Hannah on the couch, boys in the loft. I could smell the evergreen scent of the balsam fir that looked smaller in the field that in does in our living room ghosting around in the darkness, whispering Merry Christmas.

Fast forward to 3 p.m.


This is my day: cookies, candle making, nerf guns, bandaids and, hallelujah, a glass of wine.

The Man has gone to the city to get snow tires put on my truck. This is a job months past due and I’m glad it’s happening today. I’ve been sliding about on the wet in uncomfortable ways of late, praying against an ice storm. He’s finishing the holiday shopping, merciful gift of a man that he is, and complaining far less about the holiday madness than I did yesterday when I had my marathon day off the island.

The work was good, while it lasted. 

I got through my three hours for Tortuga and my weekly tete a tete with my partner in crime, Sean. Then, there was a tiny knock at the door, and my little friend Adeline crawled into my lap for a visit. She is the sweetest of interruptions. I always enjoy her. It was down hill from there.

I’ve managed exactly 1 email since then. A big one. A serious one. One no one wants to have to write. But nonetheless, one email is not much.

The tree has presided over the craziness. 

  • Cookies have been baked
  • Candles have been made

Ezra finished sewing. Well, not exactly finished. Stitching too fast and running the needle through his finger twice, with the machine, subsequently jerking and screaming (breaking the needle, natch) ended the sewing for the day. Blood everywhere. A lament that, “Now Clove won’t have a present!!” He’s decided on hand stitching and is now on the couch working away, hand stitching, old school style.

  • Laundry has been done
  • Floors swept
  • Bathrooms cleaned
  • Rooms tidied

Not that you’d ever know it to see the house now.

Christmas2Hannah’s projects have exploded, like a piñata of wool scraps and thread bits, all over the space in front of the wood stove.

William is passed out on a pile of Guatemalan pillows. He drove in this afternoon, from the USA, after having had the adventure of having his engine rebuilt after putting diesel in the tank instead of gasoline. Whoops.

Five Australian boys are crammed into Elisha’s room making lego creations, pseudo quietly.

My bed is piled high with candy bar sleighs, that Ez hot glued this morning for his friends, and folded laundry. I have no idea where I’ll sleep tonight.

We got the happy news that one of our most dearly loved is coming home for Christmas, almost… Kari will bring the party the day after Christmas. Gayle and her little guy will fly in on the 29th, and I see my productivity dwindle before my very eyes, in all of the best ways.

At 3:00 on the dot I poured a glass of wine.

Christmas3Oh hush. I know. But if you’d just mopped blood, slipped on half a cup of rice poured, inexplicably, across the wood floor of your bedroom, had a long, drawn out explanation of why one must form a point at the end of the wrapping paper in order to achieve the desired effect once the paper is folded, found the toilet paper roll empty when you needed it, spent five minutes trying to find the nail clippers to remove the nasty flap of dead skin from the wounded, written a diatribe about the finer points of adult sexual responsibility to a kid you helped raise, and asked for the fifth time for the nerf gun to be removed from your kitchen bench so that there was a place to put the cookies, well, you might pour a glass too.

And also, thank the sweet baby Jesus for earphones.

Mine, of course are missing one ear bud, which is supremely annoying, as they are my only means of creating my own space in which to work. I’ve nicked a pair of The Man’s until I can come up for air long enough to replace mine. Which, by the look of the calendar, will be in, approximately, March.

Christmas4Things that make me merry:

  • Earphones
  • Cookies
  • The Santa hat I stitched for my Buddha
  • The Poinsettia Jenn brought me
  • Having our own ornaments on this giant tree
  • The gingerbread houses the boys made
  • Having all of the children, plus a few more, home
  • Guests, all of them, bring them on
  • Early morning quiet
  • The sledding hedgehog socks Wendy sent me
  • Square dancing in the living room (you shouldn’t have missed our Christmas Party)
  • Bedlam (except when it makes me Grinchy)

Christmas is almost always bedlam in our world.

It’s that “more kids than sense,” thing. And also, we pick up strays. The one year it wasn’t was very Charlie Brown indeed. We were in Borneo that year. Totally, utterly, alone. It was harder to be merry without our usual parade of loved ones and strangers. Without people to cook for, dance with, and lavish with little homemade surprises.

Christams6And, there’s always room for one more.

My Dad mused aloud at our party on Sunday that he missed Chris, our buddy who often winters with us in Guatemala. I missed him too.

I love that Kari is blowing in like this is home, because it is.

I love that Gayle and her boy know that, continental shifts not withstanding, they are always invited.

I love that the Australians emailed this time last year to ask if they could spend this winter with us here, in Canada (elsewise, I’d be somewhere warmer, I promise you!)

I love that William just comes home with Hannah and crashed out on the floor like he owns the place.

I love that Fitz’ best buddy hangs around and eats our food and then they both hang around and eat Stephanie’s food at their house.

If you have no where to call home, come here. We’ll hug you, stuff you with cookies and make you sing Christmas Carols and listen to Tony read Dickens.

And, truth be told, I love the bedlam too.

I love that my kids are making things instead of buying things. That’s something I like about them. I love that my sons sew, even when they bleed all over the machine.

I love that my daughter brings a giant felted mess home with her like it’s no big deal.

I love that all kids think my house is fun and just invade like they live here. I’ll take ‘em. Kids are important people.

I don’t care that much that it’s messy. I holler, “TEN SECOND TIDY!!” And everyone rushes around and sorts it out. This cottage is so small that it doesn’t take much, especially when there are ten pairs of hands within earshot.

I’d rather have a messy house, stuffed to the gills with kids, friends, memories and love than a magazine worthy empty shell. 

I’d rather get up at five in the morning to work and have to call it a day by noon because life is happening hard and fast, than show up at an office and miss all of the fun.

That said, I’m still plugging in my earphones, pouring a glass of wine and creating my oasis of calm in the midst of the chaos this afternoon. It’s that, or kill some jolly elves, and that always ruins Christmas!

It’s Christmas Eve’s Eve… what’s happening at your house? Can I send you half a dozen kids to liven things up? I’ve got spares!