Christmas is a bittersweet time of year. It brings to mind the nostalgic joy of childhood Christmases past but also the hollow absence of family and friends who are no longer with us.
I grew up in a small eastern Ontario village on the shore of the St. Lawrence River. Our extended family was in southern Ontario so Christmas Days were fairly sedate affairs spent in the company of immediate family. The anticipation always seemed more exciting than the day itself. I do recall a few memorable gifts received in my youth.
The first I remember was an early table hockey game with stationary players. It hosted many hard fought Leafs-Canadiens games over the years. When we figured out that we could curve the metal player's sticks, there was the added danger of taking a hoisted marble in the eye.
Another year we received an early version of the snowboard called a banana board. It was a smooth yellow board you stood on without any bindings just holding a rope for balance. We'd take it to the big hill in the park near our home and in all the years we had it, I don't think anyone ever rode it all the way to bottom without falling.
Snowmobiling was a popular winter activity among many of my friends. I thought our family should have one and did a lot of research and lobbying leading up to Christmas. On Christmas morning instead of a snowmobile in the front yard there were cross country skis under the tree - probably the first pair ever in our town. Although initially disappointed, I quickly learned to love cross country skiing and abhor the stench of exhaust and noise of snow machines disrupting a crisp, quiet glide through winter woods.
The transition from childhood to adulthood can be measured by the lead up to Christmas. As a child, it seemed to take forever for Christmas to come and Christmas Eve was the longest night of the year. As an adult, Christmas comes and goes more quickly with each passing year. I've come to appreciate that the day is less about gifts given and received but more about cherishing what is really important.
I hope you are basking in the glow of family and friends this Christmas Day and wish you the very best of the season.