Editorial: It’s beginning to look a lot like …
Trent Ernst, Editor
As I sit here in the International Worldwide Headquarters for the Tumbler Ridge News, my desk faces out the window and into the parking lot. Okay, so it isn’t the sort of oceanfront view commanded by high powered executives in LA, but it allows me a window (both literally and metaphorically) onto the life of Tumbler Ridge.
As I watch, the snow swirls and dances through my field of vision, big white flakes that are stirred by the soft breeze that blows.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again, but I love winter. Right up until New Year’s Day, winter is wonderful. (If you wanted to be so kind, though, you could probably cut out the bit between there and Valentine’s Day, kthxbye). I love the new sledding hill. I’m looking forward to getting out and checking out the new outdoor skating rink.
But over the last decade, I’ve discovered a newfound love of Christmas. Oh, sure, I’m right there with you. Too commercialized, too rushed too stressful. Gotcha. But I’ve learned to look at it through the eyes of my kids and I am reminded again of the wonder and delight of Christmas as a child.
I remember Christmas at five years old, waking up at some unknown hour while the house was still asleep and creeping downstairs to see if I could spot St Nick engaging in his annual B&E spree. (Yes, Virginia, I actually crept down the stairs. How Sears Catalogue of me.)
When I got to where I could see the living room laid out before me, and no Santa (or parents) about, I decided I was going to wait and spy on him. Our couch did not sit flush against the wall; there was a five-year-old-boy sized gap between. So I snuck down to the bottom of the stairs, and, with one final check of the room to make sure there was nobody awake and no mystical gift giving figure entering the room, I made a mad dash, as fast as I could, leaped up on the couch and dropped down behind, landing painfully on the new wooden sled that my parents had bought me.
I kept from crying out, both in joy and in pain, and inspected the gift in the near dark, illuminated by the many coloured glow of the old Christmas lights that adorned the tree. It was one of those classic wooden sleds, curved at the front, and big enough to lie down upon, or fit three or four kids on when you really wanted speed going down the hill.
And then, I lay down on the floor. From here, I could see the living room, or at least the area about six inches above the carpet. If Jolly Old were to come in, I would most certainly see him and could jump up and accost him, and find out how the heck he was able to get into our house when we didn’t have a chimney. Did he come through a window? In the door? Up the sewer? Inquiring minds needed to know.
But enquiring five-year-old minds were overcome by exhausted five-year-old bodies, and I quickly fell asleep in the soft glow of the lights from the tree.
Memory is a fickle beast. One of my favourite quotes is from La Jetee, a film that I have never seen. The quote goes like this: “Nothing distinguishes memories from ordinary moments. Only later do they become memorable by the scars they leave.” I don’t have any physical scars from landing on the sled, but that moment left an indelible memory on my psyche. The next morning did not, so I don’t recall anything else specifically from that Christmas.
However, as I got older, sleeping beneath the fully-lit Christmas Tree became a tradition for me. At first, it was because mom held onto that string of incandescent Christmas bulbs and I was worried that they might cause a fire (and you know the safest place to be when a Christmas Tree starts on fire is right underneath it). Later, it was because it was a tradition.. Why? Because it’s tradition. Don’t look at me like that. I’m not the one who puts paper crowns on my head for Christmas Supper.
When I got married, I tried to indoctrinate the wife into this tradition. She made it maybe half an hour into our first Christmas and then went back to the bedroom. I looked at the tree. I looked at her retreating form, then, with a sigh, followed her. While tradition is good, spending my first Christmas as a husband alone in the living room sounded way too lonely. I’ve tried a couple more times to get her interested in the tradition, even going so far as to move a mattress into the living room. Nada. It is a tradition without traction for her.
But this year, now that Zoe knows (wink wink, nudge nudge) about Santa, I’m thinking about picking up the tradition with her. Because Christmas is about family and friends. It’s about memories, both in the remembering and the making.
So, as we enter December and begin the rush towards Christmas, take the time to spend time with family and friends. Take the time to make some memories. Because the memory lasts far longer than that wooden sled ever did.