Christmas Poppy

Christmas was extra special this year – “Poppy” came over from Victoria to stay with us! Kim and I loved Poppy to bits and had missed him since we’d moved away from Victoria, so we were thrilled to have a chance to see him again.

The last time we’d spent Christmas with Poppy was with him and my late grandmother “Sam”, at their house in Victoria. Christmas in Victoria always meant a large, fresh pine Christmas tree that stretched up close to the eight foot ceiling of Poppy’s living room, the ancient Christmas lights and ornaments that had probably been around since Mum was a girl, and setting milk and digestive biscuits out for Santa on the fireplace hearth (plus a carrot for the Reindeer). Looking back now, I guess I’d say it was more traditional – there was some kind of history behind it all, like a ritual that had been performed many times over and into which you had become seamlessly incorporated.

On the other hand, Christmas in Langley this year was simpler, cozier and newer. We had a brand new five foot imitation scotch pine christmas tree, and strings of brand new mini-lights. I remember the smell of all the new fire retardant plastic from the lights and the tree. There was something very novel about the modernity of it all.


I know: still cute as hell. Kim at about 6, totally jazzed about Christmas morning/

One day when Kim was asking Dad about Santa Claus, I became aware that there was a glaring problem about our home: we had a gas furnace with only a small exhaust pipe on the roof. “How could Santa fit down that little pipe?” I challenged my father. Dad, being mindful of my little sister’s expectations, answered that Santa Claus could use his set of master keys to come in through the front door whenever he couldn’t use the chimney. I didn’t really buy into the whole Santa concept anymore by this time, but I went along with Dad’s rational explanation, thinking that it was all in all a pretty clever answer. However, the image of Santa Claus coming in through our front door in the middle of the night bothered me a little. It seemed so unmagical and mundane that Santa would actually come in through the same door that we used every day.

 Christmas morning was a flurry of smiles, laughter, shredded paper and discarded cardboard boxes…

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After exchanging gifts, we ate breakfast and relaxed. The morning was capped off by a game of table hockey between me and Poppy. (Dad smoked a cigarette and volunteered to be our hockey referee and colour commentator.)


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The memoir and family history of E. John Love