A couple of weeks later, I gestured feebly from beneath a mountain of butter, flour, Christmas card glitter and wrapping paper - a gesture that was meant to denote "um, no, on second thought I'm pretty sure I WON'T be blogging at Christmastime." I managed to get one Christmas-themed book reviewed but didn't finish the one in which the title character's name is Billy Freaking CHRISTMAS (sorry Chicago Review Press, I'll get to it as soon as I can).
We had a great Christmas. I always think travelling at Christmas is a pain in the ass, and I'm a bad guest - I'm always surreptitiously turning down the thermostat, I can't wash my face without getting water everywhere (I maintain that this is largely due to poor sink design), I hate being surrounded by people with no means of escape and if it's Christmas I'm usually sporting a loud tubercular cough. But my husband hadn't been home to Thunder Bay for almost twenty years, our kids aren't small anymore, and last Christmas I actually remember thinking that everything was almost a little TOO quiet and easy, and maybe it was time to bugger it all up and make things interesting.
It wasn't even that interesting, as Christmas trips go. I mean, just watch a December episode of Good Luck Charlie or any Christmas movie ever - travelling at Christmas should involve getting snowed in/held up/robbed/ and/or separated from the rest of your family, with an option on unplanned pregnancies or at least a good knock-down-drag-out family fight.
Our planes were mostly on-time, no one fed their son an elephant-sized dose of Valium and then sat in front of us, our baggage all made it the same time we did (this was my biggest fear), my mother-in-law readily agreed to bump the temperature down a degree, we had our own room in the basement for when I needed a breather (and to muffle the coughing), and the sink was poorly designed but I just mopped up after face-washing and it was fine. There was one 'naked-in-the-snow-except-for-a-Fentanyl patch' incident, but it was someone's patient, not a family member, so beyond some marked interest in the actual size of a patch of Fentanyl, it wasn't a big deal.
Being in a house full of doctors at Christmas does carry its own particular vagaries. You hear phrases like "please stop saying anuresis at the dinner table" and many of the gift tags were barely legible: Eve kept picking up presents and saying "who's Sack Pill?" (it was Santa Bill) and "This says To Lapa" (it said to Laura).
Our house has three levels. Sometimes it's too easy for us all to retreat to our introverted corners and only meet for meals. Some enforced togetherness isn't the worst thing.
Neither is Maple Leaf lounge hot chocolate
And just look at this heartwarming sibling love and closeness