In a time of change and turmoil in my life, I’m clinging to the constants. Even the little ones. Quotes are from Stuart McLean’s story Dave Cooks the Turkey.
I’m sitting in the back of the van, bouncing my legs and trying to warm up. The van isn’t started yet, and I can see my breath in the air still. My sisters are bickering; one is in the back next to me, and one is the row ahead, but they manage to be in each other’s space anyways. My brother, I can tell, is gearing up to join the fight that really has nothing to do with him. I shiver violently and try to ignore them, staring out the window at my parents, who are still standing outside the church chatting. Come on, it’s cold and it’s twelve-oh-six. It’s time to gooooo. I whine mentally, but outwardly I’m passive, just staring.
Fed up, I’m about to snap at my siblings because really, nobody is touching you and they didn’t say anything mean, trust me, I was listening, but my parents finally climb into the van and start the engine. The radio comes on, and everyone settles down to listen. I relax into my seat as much as my bulky winter coat will allow as Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Cafe comes through the speakers.
For as long as I can remember, we’ve listened to The Story on our way home from church. The Story is The Vinyl Cafe by Stuart McLean, and is actually more than just a story each week. But we listen for the stories, or at least, I do. I love McLean’s storytelling. He’s funny and his characters are familiar, and his stories always have that little bit of wisdom in the end, that resolution. His voice over the radio is familiar, too, and it caches us up in that familiarity. Everyone always listens. Today, we hear the story exchange, the local music, and then, finally, the words we’ve all been waiting for: “Dave Cooks the Turkey”. We wait for this story from basically the first snow onwards. It’s the indication that the Christmas season is here.
“When Carl Lobier bought his wife Gerta the Complete Christmas Planner, he did not understand what he was doing.”
Thus begins my second-favourite Christmas story ever. I like it better than Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. (blasphemy!) We get home after only a couple sentences, and everyone piles out of the car and into the house, stomping snow off their shoes and leaving their church things everywhere, despite my dad telling us to ‘put your church stuff away before you even sit down!’ Someone rushes to the radio to turn it on, and while my parents make lunch, I settle on the couch, tucking my cold feet up under my skirt. Then, I listen to the story.
“And do you know where that train is going, Dave? […] Exactly! The last stop on the line. Christmas Dinner!”
This, to me, is Christmas.