24 December 2011

On Christmas Trees and Nose Bags

It's Christmas Eve, which for us Germans means we have the big celebration tonight. Our Christmas customs are a blend between the German and Canadian styles. We do our present-opening on Christmas Eve, but on Christmas Day we have stockings and a big turkey dinner. And we have an Advent Wreath and light the candles on the Advent Sundays, but the Christmas tree gets put up about a week before Christmas, not secretly the day of Christmas Eve. It would be difficult to do that German-style anyway with the open floor plans we have hereabouts; you can't lock the kids out of the living room for secrecy when there's no door to lock.

Our Christmas tree came from the woods behind our house - that's another Canadian thing to do, to just get a free Christmas tree permit from the forestry department (nowadays you can just download it from the web), and go into the woods to find your own. You just have to make sure you carry that permit in your pocket, else if a Department of Forestries Official catches you, he might drag you off to the nearest lock-up and imprison you over the holidays on suspicion of trying to set up trade in Charlie Brown trees. They're coveted commodities, those trees, but residents are allowed three per household - with a permit, of course. Forestry officials are combing the Canadian woods in large numbers at this season, looking for Christmas Tree Perpetrators. You probably thought those roadblocks where the RCMP pulls you over and asks how many glasses of mulled wine you had are meant to prevent drunk driving, but in fact, they're a cover for checking for unauthorized Christmas-Tree-Transporting. RCMP and Department of Forestries are working together to prevent Dastardly Tree Crimes at this season.

Yesterday I turned on the TV, and it just so happened that my favourite Christmas movie was on. In fact, I'd already considered putting in the video I'd taped a couple of years ago to watch it (yes, I still have a VHS player. Antiquated, I know, but I'm unrepentant). But I didn't have to; they faithfully aired (cabled?) "A Child's Christmas in Wales", as they have done every Christmas the last few years. This is the version with Denholm Elliott playing the grandfather, telling his grandson of the snowy Christmasses he had when he was young ("I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six."). If you get a chance to watch it, do; it's well worth it. But if you can't get a hold of it, here is my latest discovery: Dylan Thomas himself reading his poem/story, in measured, epic tones. Denholm Elliott does it more lyrical, lilting; but you can't beat hearing it in the poet's own voice. "There were the Useful Presents: engulfing mufflers of the old coach days, and mittens made for giant sloths; ... and books that told me everything about the wasp, except why." I think I had better go and crochet a little nose bag for one of my children, we don't have any aunts, whinnying or not, coming to visit this year to supply the want.

Life, the Universe, and Christmas Cheer. May yours be blessed and merry.


  1. Your tree is so cute... I love it. Thanks for posting your family photo on fb...very nice.

    I hope you have an awesome Christmas.

  2. Came to see your blog. Great stuff.

    BTW. People from Finland also open presents on Christmas Eve.

  3. Yes, we like our Charlie Brown Trees.

    Sam, I remember talking with you Finns about that back then when we all hung out; seems to be a general Scandinavian/Germanic thing.

    Hope you all had a lovely Christmas, Eve or Day! I'm still stuffed from all the turkey and goodies...