It's easy to let the Christmas expectations ballon to enormous proportions. Usually, the real event is marred by a flaw or two; fighting over whose family to eat dinner with, disappointment that the gift you were hoping for didn't appear, or worry about how to pay for all that cheer. Sometimes the difference between being in a good mood and a bad mood is as simple as seeing the humour in something.
For us, the lead-up to Christmas this year was squeezed between house-building, working, taking care of animals and working on my new business. Our finances our very tight this month and we had to budget our shopping accordingly. We have had the additional worry about what to do with the meat we'll get back from sending four of our pigs in to be slaughtered and butchered. Only one of the pigs has been sold, and in a couple days we will have excessive amounts of ham, ribs, bacon and chops that we have no where to put. I'm talking like 500 pounds of pork. It would be easy if we had electricity- we would just buy a used freezer. Whatever solution we end up finding, I can guarantee that in a couple months we will be sick to death of eating pig.
Over the course of December we have learned more about the incredible amount of community spirit in our locality. We've been asked to participate in a Secret Santa (that you were not allowed to buy anything for), attended a very moving choral Christmas concert, made the rounds on the carolling Jingle Bus and gone to Christmas in the Barn, a performance of the nativity that takes place in a functioning barn.
On the night of the 23rd, we were invited over to the house where our two friends, who just had a baby, live with their parents/parents-in-law for a delicious meal. The food, the warmth, the conversation and meeting their precious, tiny girl for the first time . . . it was really nice. We stayed late into the night and when we left, the thermometer in the car was reading minus 11. I was anticipating the terrible coldness of the trailer.
When we got home, there was a gift waiting for us on the step. It was wrapped in festive paper and the card read, simply, “From your M------ friends”. We tore it open and were delighted to find all the fixings for a special meal.
That night it was so cold that we couldn't get our kerosene heater going. In desperation, we decided to move our bed down to our unfinished home, which now has a functioning wood stove in it. We put a piece of plywood on the joists that will support the second floor, and put the bed on top of that. It was somewhat smoky in the cabin, but it was much warmer than the trailer. I had pictured moving in to the trailer when everything was done and we had all our furniture in place, but, like Christmas, Life itself doesn't often go as planned.
On Christmas Eve, DH chopped down a small red cedar that was in an inconvenient spot and propped it up inside. We decorated it with the ugly decorations that we had originally made for our secret Santa buddies, but that hadn't turned out well enough, and with a star I cut out from a magazine picture. We put our presents and stockings around the base. That evening we ate the meal our anonymous friends had lovingly put together for us.
Their gift was incredibly touching. We never go hungry but we also don't prepare extra-special meals these days like we used to, nor buy expensive ingredients. We often cook and eat our meals as just another part of the day's tasks to be done, forgetting to enjoy our food and one another's company. What was in the special package? Honey, green tea, coffee, Dijon mustard, after dinner mints and, in the very centre, a ham.
In light of our excess pork dilemma, we had to laugh; it was perfectly imperfect.