“Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.” Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
For me, these lines, those that open Dickens famed book, spawning I can’t count how many variations in film, are what open the Christmas season, despite seeming rather dour.
The book itself is a joy to read, and on Christmas eve, I honour my decades old tradition of watching the 1951 Alastair Sim version of the film, called Scrooge, and that’s when I feel the most Christmassy a person can feel.
And really, that’s what Christmas is for me. We no longer do the gatherings and presents; rather, we spend the season enjoying traditions old and new. We enjoy the holiday by spending time together with the dogs, eating delicious food, and watching all the Christmas movies we can. It’s about tradition.
For me, the real joy in the season comes from quoting the lines while we watch Christmas Vacation for the 20th time, or yell “Son of a nutcracker” with Will Ferrell as Elf.
We don’t do the whole turkey dinner event, instead we have eggs benedict while watching the newest season of The Grand Tour.
We hang out with our dogs, and walk the ones that can be (we are heavy on the slow, senior dogs around here) and we enjoy spending time together that doesn’t include discussing to-do lists and who needs to be at what appointment, when.
I think I learned the true joy of Christmas from my Nanna, who spent the season largely in service to others. She knit countless hats and mittens through the year, and collected used coats to give to those who might be cold through the winter. She drove for meals on wheels, and baked innumerable loaves of bread to make sure no one went hungry.
She decorated her home with priceless items that were worth nothing, in the dollars sense, but were familiar and beautiful. For me, she embodied the Christmas spirit. That of enjoying the time together, doing what she could with her modest means for others. She sand carols while she baked and taught me all her classic cookie recipes.
Every year the most meaningful gift I received came from her in the form of an annual Hallmark Christmas ornament; the rocking horse.
For me, the season is about time, food, and tradition. And when I say food, I mean the carefully baked cookies you only make at Christmas. The meal you take extra time to create, just as Nanna would. She loved Christmas because she loved others. And that’s good enough for me.
From me, my four-legged posse, and all of us at the Courier, happy holidays.
Repeat the sounding joy.