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Gaudeamus Igitur

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Double Humbug

Hi Adria, 

For some reason I reread my last email and asked myself who the hell cares what I served on xmas eve. Humbug. And really, if it hadn’t been for Jess being here I would have been satisfied with a glass of wine and a piece of cheddar. Obviously, I have not found the xmas spirit yet, nor has it found me. I’ve even started to covertly de-decorate; I take one thing from here and another from there and bring them down to the trunk in the basement. All the wrapping and saved bags and the stockings have disappeared as fast as they appeared. Why would I want it all to be over if it hasn’t really begun for me? And at times, after a few hours of endless sitting and eating and chitchat, a type of ennui sets in and I start thinking of a book I’d rather be reading. (Double Humbug).

I’ve started the new assignment. It feels so good to be back at the computer. I think Francine asked for Dark Memories of Christmas Past, didn’t she? I hope so – that’s right up my alley. I wonder what sweet, baby-face Mark will write about. How he didn’t get the right toy last year?  What do you think of some of these dark remembrances? Of course I’ve spiced them up and taken some from previous writings. I know it’s supposed to be memoir, but hell - who’ll know?

 ....  As soon as the boys were in bed, I placed the gifts that my brother and I had managed to buy at Woolworth’s with our meagre savings, under the tree. I knew my Mother would be relieved. Usually she waited and worried and prayed that my father would bring home a few presents. And he always did, but never before Christmas Eve, and only after spending a few hours celebrating the forthcoming birth of Christ at the local tavern. It was a good thing that in Quebec taverns stopped serving beer early before religious holidays. That had always left him with enough time to scurry along Masson Street to get what he could find before the stores closed. It was a tribute to my Mother, that much I knew, that somehow, all of my Christmases as a child had been special and magical, even through the darkness. (This may be too much for Francine to take.)   
          My brothers and I stood like sentinels behind the white lace curtains, every Christmas Eve, waiting for Grandfather Garski to appear. “He’s here!” we would yell when he pulled up along the white snow banks in his long navy Lincoln and later in his gold T-Bird. Then he would climb the stairs, deposit a brown cardboard box on the gallery, wave and get back in his car. My Mother always waited in the kitchen and the year I turned thirteen I waited in the kitchen with her. The hope of any surprise was long gone. I was too old, I told my Mother, to join my brothers in their childish squeals. Only when Grandfather had driven away were the boys allowed to run outside, grab the box and carry it into the kitchen. For years I could not comprehend the sadness on my Mother’s face as she watched her children empty the contents: one medium–sized turkey, a five-pound bag of potatoes, six oranges, one tin of hard Christmas candy, and a small box of Laura Secord chocolates. But that year, when I saw the turkey sitting abandoned on the shelf in the empty refrigerator, I realized Grandfather’s donation had more to do with charity than generosity and that my Mother had been powerless to prevent me from realizing this.

Is this gruesome enough? It’s so much easier (for me anyway) to write about this than Joy to the World. When we meet later this week we can share our stories of misfortune. What a good way to end the year. Cheers to Francine!

Dark Sarah

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