John and his sister Kelly in 1977. (John K. White archive)

John and his sister Kelly in 1977. (John K. White archive)

John White: Don’t let Christmas magic pass you by

The reason I've been in a funk is I've been in denial about Christmas.

There I was Tuesday night, trying to find something to write about. I usually have my column in the can by the Monday of the week, but I was really struggling to find a focus over the last few days.

It was not a boost to my productivity to have the Alabama Senate election on CNN and social media. Watching human dumpster fire Roy Moore lose and refuse to concede was a Shakespearean masterwork. I couldn’t tear myself away from Twitter, as it was overflowing with emotion, humour and dynamic commentary.

Some of my favourites?

This gem from Mason Steinberg:

mason tweet

The runner-up from Erin Gloria Ryan:

erin tweet

But my favourite of the night was from John Lilly:

lilly tweet

You’re probably asking yourself, could Donald Trump reflect on endorsing two losing candidates in the same race with grace and humility? Ha, no, that is not physically possible.

trump tweet

I intentionally left the covfefe in there for your reading pleasure.

So there I was, sprawled uncomfortably in bed staring at the ceiling at 5 a.m., listening to the scientifically verified relaxation music of Marconi Union, when it hit me: The reason I’ve been in a funk is I’ve been in denial about Christmas.

I realized this as I was thinking about how much my mom would have loved to see the CP Holiday Train and mini-concert in Castlegar. She was the queen of Christmas and would work very hard to make sure it was more magical every year.

One year, she told Santa to get me the new Mattel Intellivision game system, despite the fact that it cost him $444 to build in his workshop. We’re talking $444 in late ’70s dollars. We were an extremely blue-collar family, so it was quite an incredible morning when looking back on it all these years later.

Christmas Eves were the pinnacle of expectation, excitement, joy and togetherness. My sister and I had the typically rivalrous relationship, but it was the two days of the year where all of that was forgotten, and we shared in the magic together. That is actually my favourite memory of the time.

I vividly remember waking up at 6 a.m., quietly tip-toeing into my sister’s bedroom to get her up, and then the two of us rushing into the living room to see what Santa left us. My parents pretended to be miffed that we were getting them up at 7 to open presents. We had to make them coffee and have it ready for 7 or they wouldn’t get up.

My dad would be the purveyor of gift disbursement, despite the fact that my mom and sister did all of the wrapping.

He would grab a gift and start to hand it to one of us, and then my mom would say, “maybe save that one until later.” This happened several times every year.

While these memories bring intense feelings of warmth, they also bring deep sadness. Both of my parents are gone, and I have a hard time reconciling this new reality each Christmas. I don’t mean to be a bummer, so take these thoughts as motivation to make the most of your time with your family.

Treasure the magic.


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