Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Blogging in the dark

Because it's nearly impossible to blog or read blogs in a house full of eighteen people, I'm blogging in the dark in the middle of the night. There are sleeping people on nearly every soft surface in this house, including one on the couch beside me, and one on the floor at my feet. I can't turn on the light, nor can I walk very far without tripping over a body.

No, I'm not hiding out in an overcrowded bomb shelter - we're just celebrating Christmas the way we used to do it. With the whole family camped out under one roof for the holidays. It used to be that we'd all head to the farm and the first family to arrive got the best chance of getting an actual bedroom. Latecomers ran the risk of sleeping on the kitchen floor.

In the years since Dad died, Christmas has changed. Mom moved into an apartment in the city, and at Christmas time, those who lived outside the city showed up for a few days and spread out among the available homes in the vicinity. We got together for a meal or two and maybe a night of bowling, but it just wasn't quite the same without the challenges of shared bathrooms and the joys of late night games of Skip-bo.

This year, we finally took my brother up on his longstanding invitation to converge on his house in Calgary. All of the rest of the family are Manitoba-based, so we all loaded up our cars and headed west. It may not be the farm - there are no fresh eggs for breakfast and Dad won't come in from the barn cradling a small animal to delight the children - but this Christmas has held a charm and beauty all its own. There's nothing quite like the pleasure of sharing a few days of undivided attention with my siblings, their spouses and children, and mom and her husband.

There are games to play, loads of food to eat, movies to watch, jokes to laugh at, cousins to entertain the kids, and conversations to fill the hours. There's time for skating, time for hangin' out in the hot-tub, and time for wandering around the nearby lake.

Tomorrow, we head to Banff for the day, and then we begin the trek home. We'll be ready to sleep in our own beds by then, and the people in this house will be ready to have their soft surfaces free of sleeping bodies. In the end, we will be refreshed and reminded why there is nothing quite as good as family.

Sometimes I think that maybe those people who live in cultures where their extended families live under the same roof have got some advantages over the rest of us.


Whippersnapper said...

Merry Christmas Heather! I love the fact that you are posting in the middle of the night, you little addict, you!!

Incidently: Did you know I was conceived in Calgary??!!

Joyce said...

beautiful. it must make you miss your dad all over again.
You have a wonderful tradition, and I'm glad you got to repeat a version of it this year.

Vicki said...

Your description brings back memories of childhood. My Mom is one of 16 children. I have 45 first cousins. Christmas was the same with us. We slept like sardines in the dining room floor giggling and laughing until we were forced to be quiet. As with your family, after my Grandpa died everything changed. My Grandma moved into an apartment and it wasn't the same anymore. I'm glad to hear of a family trying to rekindle the ways of "it used to be." Comforting.

Hope said...

So close and yet so far..... We are heading to Banff for the weekend. Enjoy this glorious place.... it never fails to refresh my soul. (If you can ignore the tourist shops)
Have a great holiday and a safe trip home. That Saskatchewan Manitoba drive is so dull it's painful.

tlawwife said...

Sounds wonderful!!

Gina said...

I agree with you that sometimes our newfangled Western civilization is missing out on quite the few things, and connecting with extended family on a regular basis is one of them. This despite car and air travel!

The Passarelli's said...

That sounds so nice Heather.

I hope you had a great Christmas!

Kila said...

Sounds like a wonderful time.

I agree with your last paragraph. I've often thought the same thing. Us "civilized" folks do many things wrong and miss out on a lot, I think.

Lucia said...

Is Banff as beautiful in the winter as in the summer?

I thought of you today. I´m in Patagonia, in the southermost city in the world in Argentina, and I was sitting on the side of a lake, paging through my passport when I saw my visa for Ethiopia, and thought of you!

Anonymous said...

Well I think that sounds just perfect. And happy new year to you and your family, even though I'm so horribly late in commenting that I missed the Christmas wishes. :)

marnie said...

Banff. How lovely. Probably one of the most breathtaking spots at Christmas.

My Christmas definitely lacked snow.

Merry Late Christmas Heather.

The very nice man said...

Great post! I was virtually sitting (veeery still) next to you with bodies snoring all around!

Liz said...

Happy New Year Heather!

Linda said...

It is an incredible blessing for that many people to live together as long as you did and have a good time. I agree. Living with extended family sounds good to me.