Christmas Eve: On ice, ghosts & dreams

December 24, 2013 in Canada, North America, Travelogue

Christmas Eve

Ice is art when painted on a living canvas:

A perfect curlycue of clear crystal clings to the tip of a wisteria tendril, hanging down from a beam of the pergola outside the kitchen window.

Jack frosts gnarled fingers cling to the sunroom window overhangs, and to the long beam supporting the cross ties that the vines lounge in the sun on over long summer afternoons.

A chickadee, cocked sideways, grips and icicle between icy toes.

A fat blue jay pecks, gratefully, at the suet block.

The birch trees are bent double, their tip tops brushing the surface of the snow. One of my favourites has broken her back and is weeping quietly; her tears frozen into droplets at the tip of each branch.


Everywhere you look, is ice.

Every twig. Every pine needle. Every log, every bit of branch or bark. Every stone. Everything: covered with ice.

It’s like the whole world is cut crystal on a fancy white tablecloth.

When the sun shines, the world explodes in a rainbow of refraction and white. It’s breathtaking.

Inside, we are cooking.

I stood with my mother in the kitchen most of the morning. The copper bunched cabinets imparting familiar warmth as we chopped carrots and cauliflower, squash and walnuts towards tomorrow’s Christmas dinner. There are guests coming. There are always guests coming.

“I hope you don’t mind,” Mom breezed, “We always try to include people who don’t have anyone.”

“Yes, I know.” I smiled. It is this example that echoes in our family. Collecting the lonely, the homeless, the strays, or simply those who don’t have their people for whatever reason is part of our family culture. It always has been.

It is Christmas Eve.


Tony and Dad spent the afternoon de-icing the antenna on the roof that provides wifi access on the island. In actual fact, it was Tony who climbed the 12-12 pitch of the roof to straddle the ridge and chip away at the candy coating… for almost an hour. He was waddling a bit when he came in.

“Come look at this!” He hissed with a hint of a giggle in his voice.

I stuck my head around the corner of our bedroom door: From his knees up on the inside of his legs was an angry red rash with white dots: frozen skin. I couldn’t help but laugh.

The light is fading and the world looks a little bit blue through the lens of the ubiquitous ice.

My Dad is carefully cutting up steaks to go on the grill.

Tomorrow morning’s cinnamon rolls just came out of the oven: the ghost of Christmases past.

Coloured lights on the tree are dancing in the silver and gold ribbons on top of my mother’s packages: the ghost of Christmas present.

The children are playing ping pong. Hannah is writing in her journal. I am savouring home and drowning in this moment, while dreaming of ten years on: the ghost of Christmases yet to come.

Tonight we will eat and laugh.

Tony will read the rest of A Christmas Carol, as he always does, and the way he does voices will be my favourite, as it is every year. We’ll pour a bottle of my mom’s homemade cheer and maybe, just maybe, the children will be allowed to open one little Grammy gift before they find their beds. Stockings will be stuffed. Gifts will be tucked under the tree and with a little luck, reindeer will find our roof.

Borneo for Christmas was a dream come true… but this, this, my friends, is the stuff dreams are made of. 

May your Christmas be as merry.