Making miscues merry

A Christmas Story, The Christmas Shoes, The Christmas Box, The Christmas Ring, Christmas in Wonderland, A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Christmas Kiss, Christmas Is Here Again, The Christmas Lodge, I'll Be Home for Christmas, Christmas Tree Lane, The Christmas Card, etc., etc., etc. There are as many made-for-Christmas movies as there are lights on our tree.

The storylines are markedly similar. A woman puts her workaholic ways behind her and rediscovers the joy of the small town where she grew up, the curmudgeonly next-door neighbour actually has a heart of gold, and the difficult person the heroine is forced to work with will be the one proposing by the end of the story. All of this is happening while Christmas lights twinkle perfectly in the background and a gentle snow cascades poetically from the sky, covering the earth, but never causing actors’ cheeks to turn red or noses to run.

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Any number of Christmas movies can be watched at any given time these days, not to mention the shelf of DVDs many people have devoted to nothing but Christmas favourites. Some are classics, but most would never be watched had the word “holly,” “star,” “snow” or “mistletoe” not appeared in the title. They are fun and a great excuse to grab a bowl of munchies, a big blanket and be treated to every nostalgic sentiment that can be crammed into a 90-minute script.

My parents blessed my sister and I with truly wonderful Christmas memories, and my husband and I have tried to do the same for our children. So what happens when our own celebrations don’t quite go according to script? Truthfully – some of our funniest and most cherished moments.

It brings a smile to my face remembering the year we were with my dad's extended family and after everyone had eaten their fill and we were cleaning the kitchen we discovered that neither of the two planned vegetable dishes had made it to the table; one was sitting in the microwave, the other was still in the fridge.

One year we went Christmas caroling in near blizzard conditions. As we were standing on the back step of the home of a good friend, a gust of wind blew across her roof and deposited several centimeters of snow directly into our faces. We laugh about it… now.

A family shared their story of a very memorable Christmas Eve. A pot of oyster stew was cooking on the stove – unattended – as last-minute packages were being wrapped and family was arriving. In the busyness of the late afternoon activity, the meal had been forgotten. The long-standing and highly anticipated tradition of eating oyster stew on Christmas Eve came to an abrupt halt when the mother realized it had become an unidentifiable, badly burned mess. With little time before having to make their way across the city to attend the candlelight church service, the large family turned their attention to preparing something quickly. They had so many laughs around the table that night they decided to establish a new Christmas Eve tradition. What provided such merriment? Boxes of macaroni and cheese.

This year, perhaps more than ever, a bunch of different activities will be taking place since everyone has made adjustments to their usual Christmas plans. There might be more time to read, to listen to music of the season, or maybe even cuddle up under a blanket and get your fill of Christmas movies. Maybe, if we're lucky, something will go off-script just enough to provide some precious miscues to add to cherished memories. That's my outlook. 

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