Wednesday, 21 December 2011


The Grinch in Doctor Suess's classic story may not have been able to stop Christmas from coming, but unlike the Whos in Whoville, I seem to need certain things to be and to happen, in order for it to be Christmas. I crave:

1. Mandarin oranges. The loose leathery feel of the peels which come off so easily and the readily separated sweet segments... When we first came to Hades, all we could find were disappointing Clementines which aren't the same at all. Now the Resident Fan Boy keeps a careful watch out for the precious cardboard boxes in which the Mandarins come. We squirrel away a few for stocking toes, and eat the rest way too quickly.

2. Egg nog. The commercial egg nog here in Hades is wretched, but when we started getting our milk delivered in glass bottles (it really does taste better) from Cochrane's Dairy in Russell, Ontario (to the southeast of Ottawa), we discovered they make their own egg nog. It's fabulous. I can't decide if I prefer it with rum or brandy or just straight up. I don't ever want to know the calorie count. It's only available during December, after all.

3. The lone child-soprano beginning "Once in Royal David's City, preferably on Christmas Eve.

4. Alaistair Sim as Scrooge. No one better. (This bit always makes me cry.)

5. I've had artificial trees and real trees. I must say, I do love the smell of the real ones and the fact that they're different each year. However, the realness of the tree is not essential. I do demand that they be cluttered, completely covered with decorations from Christmases past. The Resident Fan Boy does not agree, but he values his life.

6. Chocolate gold coins in my Christmas stocking. One of my favourite Christmas memories is that of elder daughter (6 at the time) informing me that there was frankincense in her stocking. The coins were inscribed republique fran├žais.

7. Multi-coloured lights. None of this tasteful, all-in-one-colour crap, or, for that matter, the all-white "icicle-lights" that were all the rage fifteen years ago. (This year, it seems to be hanging oversize glass ornaments on deciduous trees -- in Hades at least. It's pretty, but probably trendy.)

8. Dancing Day by the Toronto Children's Chorus and The Bells of Dublin by The Chieftains. I don't know if I would find it impossible to enjoy Christmas without these albums, but by golly, when I've had a tough Christmas, these really help!

9. A Child's Christmas in Wales, the 1987 Welsh/Canadian production starring Denholm Elliot. This isn't my favourite bit, but it's the only bit on YouTube. Demeter's favourite line has always been: "Go on to the Useless Presents!"

I like to think that, were I deprived of these things, Christmas still would be Christmas. My inner child would be heart-broken, though.

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