My emotions are like the cumbersome metronome swinging predictably from one weighted side to the other on the top of our ancient upright childhood piano. Back and forth, back and forth it swings. I’ve allowed my holiday mood to be dictated by whatever is the most recently received crackling ethernet message. I should instead give my myriad, joyful, effervescent family stories permission to bubble up and sparkle my holiday consciousness.

One such story involves the ever-present cast of sister characters of my childhood. Mother wasn’t as into tree decorating as she was into holiday baking. There was a constant flow of guests in and out of our home, so having baked goods on hand to serve was uppermost on her mind. Therefore, tree-trimming became our job at a tender age. Daddy would cut down and drag the tree home. It usually was too tall, and he would have to saw off the top and some of the bottom to fit in the living room, leaving long spikey pine needles strewn all over the carpet and down the hallway.

The decorating was up to us girls. Shenanigans were bound to happen! We had this exquisitely delicate string of Christmas candle lights. Each light element was a slender, pointed, blown glass tube filled with a colourful liquid. The light source emanated from a curly-cue, bulbous bottom that anchored the fragile, intricate fixtures.

Our ring leader sister decided it would be great fun to pretend that these pointy glass lights were a dentist’s drill and that she was the dentist. I, being the youngest, was the designated patient, and another sister was the dental assistant. My oldest and wisest sister opted out of this particular imaginary game. What could possibly go wrong?!?!?

Geeze! Does a mouthful of glass shards and globular mystery liquid give you a hint? The dynamite duo sisters rushed me to the bathroom sink to rinse out my mouth accompanied by beseeching threats to not say a word to our mother. We kept our secret pact. Being an only child, mother had a hard time understanding how we could get into so much trouble. It wasn’t until we were mothers ourselves with our own children running underfoot that we told our mom this story one Christmas. Her response was a sweet smile and a few giggles accompanied by a request to hear more stories!

Tell your stories this holiday season. Keep building your children’s and grandchildren’s memory repertoires of family lore. These stories, no matter how silly, give our life significance as we pass on our memorable truths.


Who gets to dictate your holiday spirit this year?

If you don’t arm yourself with knowledge, if you don’t look truth in the face – you won’t understand your own life. And in understanding your own life, you miss the opportunity of giving it significance.

The Second Mrs Hockaday, by Susan Rivers

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