Nine Decembers

snowflake_1December 1979
We were living in Webequie, Ontario. Joe Clark was Prime Minister. Despite regular calls home to her family, who kept her apprised of all the local gossip, no one ever told my mom there’d been an election. Which is why, to this day, she’ll slap you if you try to turn the channel during the news.


December 1982
Me to my mother: “If I don’t get a ten-speed for Christmas, I’m going to DIE.” My mother to me: “Well, that’s unfortunate.” (P.S. I got the bike.)


December 1987

I was 15. Everything sucked, including Christmas, even if it didn’t, in which case it still did.


December 1991
I spent New Year’s Eve in Dublin, all-expenses paid, courtesy of my university debating society. I spent the week being romanced by an American. First and last time for everything, I suppose.


December 1998
This is the December we lived without heat in our third-floor Toronto apartment. Sometime in October my boyfriend said, “You should turn on the heat,” and I said, “No, YOU should turn on the heat,” and neither of us did, all winter long.


December 2007
Renovating our new-to-us home, we ripped out an old natural gas “fireplace” installed by the deceased husband of the previous owner. We found out later that he’d installed it when he found out his daughter was pregnant, because “how else will Santa get into the house?” He died before the baby’s first Christmas.


December 2013
This was the year our family decided to scale back gift-giving from “obscene” to “merely over-the-top.” My parents’ gift to me was a cheque. And yet, when she saw the small cardboard box we’d brought containing our unwrapped gifts, my mom said, “That’s it? That’s everything?”


December 2020
I slip on some ice at the end of November; I hit my head pretty hard and the rest of the holidays are kind of a blur.


December 2034
Butter costs $10 a pound. I halve the shortbread recipe partly to economize, but also because it’s the first year the kids won’t be coming home, so who needs all those cookies? I go through the motions, hoping Easter will be better.


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