i’m tucked under my fleece blankets, protected from the icy winds outside. i slowly get out of bed, and put on my socks. the room looked bright, but it wasn’t the rays of the sun. i open the shades and brought my face close to the glass, as i feel the cold my eyes opened wide to allow the, what seems like an out of a movie kind of beauty enter my eyes; our entire neighborhood covered in the whitest untouched snow. it was christmas morning.
i ran downstairs yelling “mummi, papa it’s christmas!”. it was 6am, I was 5. i’ve been an early riser for as long as i can remember. my dad would peer over his morning paper to look at his watch, “very early, eh?” smile then pick me up with his long tree trunk arms and give me a squeeze before he cooked my favorite omelettes “papa’s omelettes” a term i still use, 26 years later. mom would look at me, and put her hands on her hips “do you have to go to work? go back to sleep” i’d shake my head stubbornly and go about my day.
i’ve always loved lights: string lights, high rise building lights, city lights, christmas lights, diwali lights. to me, they’re just like stars glistening in the light sky, a symbol of hope in darkness. so it’s a given that i’ve always loved christmas trees. we’d have a little green one with gold decorations in our home in toronto, complemented with gold string lights on our balcony and stair banisters.
christmas was a bit different on the west coast in oregon. cold still, but not to the extreme. rather than snow, i woke up to the wind howling and blowing the fat raindrops onto my window. after slipping into my socks, i knock on my brother’s door right across the hall “it’s Christmas, wake up!!” then i’d run down the stairs while i heard a “shut uuppp” from my big brother fading away. papa loved white christmas trees, and since then we’ve carried on the tradition. on christmas morning he’d be bundled up by the fireplace with our childhood doggo tuffy, and mom prepping the food or catching up on some paperwork. it was our one day, the most special day out of the entire year to come together and spend time as a family. whether that was catching up on movies, playing boardgames, baking christmas cupcakes, or just doing our own thing until dinner, mine was writing etc.
my dear writers, the holidays are the best time to write. if you’re like me then along with early mornings, gloomy cold weather also puts me in the mood. the lights, the weather, the hot coffee and soups creates this incomparable cozy ambiance. i call it the writer’s ambiance.
after my family went through rough patch, we stopped celebrating christmas after 2012. papa’s health was declining, and we moved around quite a bit. boy, do I regret that. something as simple as putting up a tree and some lights would’ve lightened up the mood, no matter what you’re going through. i traveled to india for a cousin’s wedding in december of 2019, and little did i know that was our last christmas with papa forever. this year is the first year we’re celebrating christmas again since 2012. i can’t help but think of all the celebrations i missed out on in those eight lost years, eight more christmases i could’ve had with papa, eight more times we could have put up his favorite white christmas tree and decorated it together. but, most importantly i spent that time with dad. we had each other and that’s all that mattered.
when we put up our decorations this year i mentally went back to the 5 year old me who shot out of bed every christmas at 6am to see the fresh powder engulfing my neighborhood in canada, the 15 year old me running down the stairs to see dad bundled up by the fireplace and tree in our home in oregon. the 22 year old me applying to jobs on christmas morning wishing i had put up some decorations that year. the 31 year old me putting up two stockings knowing that sometime in the future we’ll be adding another one, and another one for a growing family.
christmas growing up all seemed like a dream, we’re all really collecting scenes for the movie that plays in our head over and over again. when i think of what life was like with papa around, i think “was that even real???”. we mentally press the rewind button to reminisce and the nostalgia sets in. it almost feels like that was a different life time…