'Tis the time of year for buying all the Christmas magazines and falling into a fantasy world of Christmassy wonderfulness! I know there are people out there who manage to get through the season without wallowing in the glossy pages but I refuse to acknowledge THOSE kind of people.
For me the season starts in October when the Christmas Cookies magazine comes out. I have every issue saved back to the year I was married 1986. Each Christmas I pull out the entire stack and plan out my cookie extravaganza. There are recipes that I use every year, zebras must show up for every Christmas, and new ones that I want to experiment with. Last year I finally got my cookie press. Millions of little shaped cookies will be appearing this year!
My biggest issue this year is finding the time. I'm still living in limbo, travelling home sporadically, so having spare time to bake comes infrequently. Add to this holiday shopping hitting the malls over the next few weeks and I think highly strategic planning will be necessary. But I must bake, my soul cries out for it. Also, I must sample, my hips start crying too but for a different reason, lol.
Thinking on Christmas and reading some essays in Victoria magazine made me start thinking of traditions. When I was a kid we would receive gifts from Aunt Matilda and Uncle Wiggly. These were relatives created by my parents to make up for the loss of gifts from our real relatives. Don't worry we weren't disowned by the family, it was just that our parents bred like rabbits and there too many of us to keep exchanging gifts. I don't remember that part but I do, lovingly, remember Aunt Matilda and Uncle Wiggly.
Aunt Matilda was very practical. If anyone was going to buy you underwear, it was her. But she would also occasionally get you a treat. I remember the Christmas of my first year away at school. I saw a real leather purse at a boutique in Gravenhurst that was out of reach for a starving student. Lo and behold I opened her gift Christmas morning and there was that purse. Matilda must have decided that I was now grown up enough to make good use of such an extravagance. I used that purse for years.
I think Uncle Wiggly was a bit of a dreamer. He always made sure we got books. I grew up in a house full of books and, subsequently, a house full of readers. My father, famously, read the Encylopedia Brittannica volume one through twenty-six for fun. When I was very young I would look forward to the Rupert Annual. This was a compilation of Rupert Bear comics that ran in the English newspaper The Daily Mirror. One of those odd things we Ferriers thought normal. Books from England, why of course, doesn't everyone do this? I say I think Wiggly was a dreamer because through those books we could travel anywhere or anytime. I see him as trying to open us up to all of the possibilities in the world. After all, Uncle Wiggly came to us from a book and was a white rabbit!
So, jump ahead a decade and here I am with my own children. Once again Matilda and Wiggly return to the family. This time to bring wonder to my own children. My kids don't know a Christmas without them. While Matilda has been able to carry on her practical ways Wiggly has been forced to change with the times. Books are still his favourite gift but he has also given movies and most recently video games. He looked quite pained while wrapping these last two but expanding the universe for his family is more important.
Until last year. Due to difficulties that rocked our little household Aunt Matilda and Uncle Wiggly were found to be failing in health. They were unable to join in on our Christmas. My heart was broken, how would I tell the kids? As expected it went like this; Jessica and Jenni were sad at the loss and Jeff and Greg didn't care. I was disappointed that the boys had not gotten the significance of these two characters in their Christmas. Each year there would be much discussion among the three of us trying to make sure the gifts from Matilda and Wiggly fit each child. How could the boys have not been aware of the part these relatives played in the holiday? I smile and act like it isn't important but it is. I have been sharing a part of my past that helped bring joy and wonder to Christmas, how could they not see that? Thankfully, Jessica and Jennifer get it. Each year they would look under the tree to make sure the gifts from these elderly relatives arrived. Jessica, especially, shares my love for Christmas and would teach her friends about the tradition of Aunt Matilda and Uncle Wiggly. Their true friends also get it because they get our family.
This year, after mourning the loss of my two imaginary relatives, I think it's time for a soap opera scene change. Life is, more or less, back on track and since I've been living in a bit of a soap opera for the past few years I think the return of Aunt Matilda and Uncle Wiggly is apropos. I missed them and they've been living in my heart over the past year. Time to revive them to their former glory. These kids definitely need Aunt Matilda to keep them grounded in the real world, perhaps underwear all around, we'll see. And I fear the boys especially have forgotten how to dream so we need Uncle Wiggly to expand the horizon one more time.
It's early but I'm already in the mood so Merry Christmas!! I hope you have the gift of imagination and wonder like we do.