Sunday, 28 December 2014


Warning: the following blog is 100% self indulgent. Read at your own risk.

One of my idiosyncrasies, of which I am so frequently reminded I have many, is my overwhelming need to enter the new year with our home returned to its normal state, all Christmas decorations down.

But the twelve days of Christmas are not over until January 5th, you argue.  I know! I know!  Perhaps it is my desire to enter the new year with a blank slate.  More likely, it is my feeling that with Boxing Day passed, the Christmas season for me is over.  Christopher and Kristen have journeyed to London. Morgan and Zachary, Matt and Michelle are busy with Christmas break activities. Christmas music no longer plays on our air waves. We have no more entertaining planned.  Why not move on?

Dismantling our Christmas decorations, though, has never once led to the blues.  As I return everything to bins to be stored in our garage loft, I reminisce about the great memories created this year and warm myself with memories of years passed.

HGTV will never cover this Lockett family Christmas tree. Such a vision is actually too amusing for words. No fancy ribbons, no matching designer decorations, no colour scheme, our natural, needle-dropping spruce is bedecked in a mishmash of decorations from years past and my more recent Pier 1 acquisitions.  Ironically, as I pack our ornaments away, it is not the flashy Pier 1 glass balls that garner my attention. Rather it is the "mishmash" that floods me with nostalgia. Children, grandchildren, decorations handed down from our parents, gifts from family and friends, all warm my thoughts.

Even the long-empty, beaten-up bottle of Henkell Trocken which Jim has used for over twenty years to water our tree makes me smile. This would have originally contained the bubbly, supplied by Richard and Meredith, for one of our annual Christmas tree cutting brunches.

Children and Christmas; it doesn't get better.  From December 1st on, anticipation ran at a fever pitch. Christopher and Matthew would count down the days using an adorable advent calendar gifted to us by friends, Jane and Brian. With our grown children having flown the coop, I frankly admit that Jim and I now move the counter forward every morning. Such sentiment! Rolling up this Santa calendar for storage, the increased excitement as the counter moved closer to the 25th remains palpable.

No one loved Christmas more than my Mother.  Holiday baking - over fifteen different varieties of cookies!  House decorations - over the top!  Christmas candles, in particular, remind me of my Mom.  She made her own and our childhood home glittered and flickered with her artistic creations throughout the holiday season. Unlike Mom, I am terrified of hot wax. Another idiosyncrasy? Thus no reprise of her candle making expertise will be forthcoming.  When my Mother passed away, in her honour, I purchased an array of electric candles for our mantle.  I cannot open them when decorating or store them away until the following year without fondly remembering my Mom at Christmas. Her warm Christmas glow lives on. The same set of dining room candle holders have graced our table for so many years that I have lost count.  How many boisterous, joyous Christmas dinners have they witnessed? I wonder.

Christmas boughs decorated the banisters in our Thornhill home.  I clearly remember purchasing them at Cullen Country Barns in Markham in 1987.  ( Remember Cullen Country Barns now torn down and replaced by the gigantic Pacific Mall?  Ugh! )  To this day, I have found no boughs as thick and realistic as these.  Denim poinsettias reflecting our country kitchen have now replaced the more formal velvet bows of Shady Lane, but these boughs, although now somewhat ragged and showing their age, are part of the fabric of our Christmases. Memories are made of this.

A half day will be required to dismantle our miniature Dicken's Village.  What began as a gift ( The Counting House ) from my sister and her husband, and ...

... from my brother ( The Horse and Carriage ), has ...

... grown over the years, thanks to the largess of Matthew and Michelle, to this:

I am sure that friends question our sanity when thinking about the time spent erecting and then dismantling our little village. The wonder on Morgan and Zachary's faces makes it well worth the effort.  To say that Jim and I enjoy our mini megalopolis all aglow in the evening and reflecting Jim's favourite novel, A Christmas Carol, is to make an understatement.

Today I dismantled our tree. I have to wonder if, after Durham has finished with it, it will be somewhere in the over fifteen bags of mulch I will disperse on our gardens this spring. I like to think so.  Tomorrow, Jim and I will lovingly store away our Dicken's village in boxes indicating the date on which we were gifted with each piece.  By the time we head out for New Year's Eve dinner, all traces of Christmas 2014 will be carefully stored away.  I sincerely hope that your Christmas season, like ours, was full of memories that will last a long time.

Friday, 26 December 2014


My Father was of the belief that children should be surrounded with unconditional love, encouraged to pursue a good education and then allowed to fly free on their own abilities.  Jim and I have added to Dad's advice; we have cut the proverbial apron strings and have attempted to allow Christopher and Matthew an adulthood without any nitpicking parental interference, all in the hope that our boys and their spouses will not begrudge our presence but willingly choose to have us part of their lives. With my Type "A", control-freak personality, you have got to know that this is an ongoing exercise in agonizing self control for me.

It must be working though, because, blessedly, Christopher actually enjoys flying in from St. John's to spend Christmastime with us. So why the Boxing Day Blues? Well, tomorrow our elder son leaves for London, Ontario and time with Kristen's family.  December 30th will see them winging their way back to Newfoundland.

I know! I know! Friends with children in the U.S., western Canada, Australia, and even the armed forces overseas are rolling their eyes. I can hear their resounding, Suck it up, Princess. Okay, okay, but for today, I am indulging myself in the blues and wallowing in my sadness.

Christopher never fails to inspire me. Well read? Of course, what would you expect from English Professor? My stack of books to read grows exponentially when he is home.  But it is Christopher's grasp of history and the current state of our world that reminds me to "care", to never slip into complacency and to endeavour to remain informed.  I will miss early morning conversations over coffee and pre-dinner discussions, wine glass in hand. Precious times ending today.

I will miss Christopher's presence in our kitchen. An accomplished cook, his quirky little tidbits of advice on using an herb or spice, previously not considered, never fail to add sparkle to our meals. Perhaps, you should be writing a cookbook during your sebatical, Hon!

I will miss watching my elder son simply enjoying a good book, working at his computer or smiling at the antics of his much loved neice and nephew, Morgan and Zachary.

Oh, get over yourself, you huff. There is FaceTime and Skype and email and phones. Yup! All true! But I will miss actually being able to touch Christopher's shoulder or hand. Most of all, I will miss being crushed in one of his giant bear hugs. These cannot be replaced by modern technology.

And so, this morning on Boxing Day, I make no apologies for feeling blue. Now if you will excuse me, I am on my way to a Pity Party For One.

Sunday, 14 December 2014


City sidewalks, busy sidewalks,
Dressed in holiday style.
In the air
There's a feeling of Christmas.
....Silver Bells

Being an avowed rural town resident does not prevent me from appreciating how downtown life could be much more fulfilling and exciting for many of our friends. Never is this understanding clearer than at Christmastime. Perhaps because I was born and raised in Toronto and subsequently spent my early married years here, Christmastime in T.O. now stirs in me a font of fond memories. To walk the evening streets is to stroll down memory lane.

A concert, a dinner with dear friends and an overnight stay in town reminded me this past Saturday of how truly beautiful Toronto is when dressed up for Christmas, her colourful light displays dispelling the gloom of our long, dark December days.

At its heart, is city hall's giant Christmas tree, standing majestically in Nathan Phillip's Square 

overseeing representatives of every age group participate in a truly Canadian activity  - skating on an outdoor rink. I smile. How many times, I reminisce, Did Jim and I freeze our "you know what's" off whizzing around this beloved ice surface on New Year's Eve?"

Walk further and twinkling lights greet you at every turn.

Strings of street lights
Even stop lights
Blink a bright red and green.

Corporate headquarters are alive with Christmas spirit, displaying everything from giant glowing snowflakes to lavishly decorated trees. Retailers become their most inventive with show stopping window displays.  A giant metallic reindeer holds court in the Eaton Centre dwarfing all shoppers in its midst.

But nothing, absolutely nothing, surpasses the Bay's Santa-themed windows in stirring within me nostalgia for Christmases past. Joining the crowds of adults and children, oo-ing and ah-ing at the heartwarming displays, I squeezed Jim's hand. For a moment I was that young girl, tightly holding my Mother's hand, awe-struck by the magical scenes unfolding before me. Memories of traditional Christmas shopping trips with my parents, dinner at the Arcadian Court and a highly anticipated visit to these windows flooded my emotions. A special thank you to The Bay for picking up the torch from the now defunct Eatons and Simpsons stores. 

My favourite? I was mesmerized, even as an adult, by the window depicting Santa's Workshop. A massive illuminated clock counting down to Christmas Eve was the backdrop to Santa on a balcony holding a long unfurled scroll - "The List" - with a myriad of adorable elves busy below. Had I not felt the need to move aside for young children eager to catch a view of where Santa works, I could have stood there all night.

See the kids bunch.
This is Santa's big scene.

Cozy under the hotel duvet, curtains open, I fell asleep to a view of City Hall bathed in blue light and fronted by its sparkling Christmas tree. And visions of sugar plums danced in my head. Yup! It's Christmastime in the City.