No, it’s not yet the 11th day of Christmas (“11 pipers piping”), but the pipe bands marching in Saint John’s Santa Claus parade on Saturday night have helped to put me in the Christmas spirit. Twinkly lights and red bows brighten the streets from one end of the city to the other, and carols accompany every trip through the grocery store.
The newspaper is also fatter — just like the legendary Christmas goose — filled to overflowing with sale flyers promising super specials on everything from cranberry-stuffed cheese balls to a computer-enhanced paintball game. My own Christmas shopping will be much too modest to boost the local economy, so as an antidote, I try to focus on the non-commercial aspects of Christmas. To quote a perennial holiday film, here are a few of My Favourite (Christmas) Things:
10. Pipe bands (gotta love those kilts) or brass bands, playing outdoors.
9. Skating on Lily Lake to the sound of waltzes from the pavilion loudspeaker.
8. Watching dogs and children frolicking in the fresh-fallen snow.
7. Strings of lights and cheery decorations on people’s homes and businesses.
6. The food. Oh, the food, the food, the food.
5. Visiting. Seeing farflung friends and family is worth a holiday all by itself.
4. Decorating the tree. All my ornaments have stories; hanging them on the tree is like opening a box of precious memories.
3. Singing along with Handel’s Messiah. Just try not standing up during the Hallelujah Chorus (I know, that’s part of the Easter section, but who’s counting…).
2. Giving gifts. While I do enjoy getting, giving is even better — I love seeing that pleased expression on a loved one’s face.
1. Hearing the Christmas story. You know the one — pregnant teenage girl, hasty wedding, weary travellers desperate for a place to stay, the stable, the birth of a baby, singing and dancing shepherds — a real barn-burner. And you know there wouldn’t be a Christmas without a baby.
Photo taken on November 20, 2010