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Life, Photos

Cobra Christmas customs

12.26.10 | Comment?

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When I was a kid our Xmas tradition consisted of this: I’d sleep like shit all xmas eve, constantly waking up thinking it was time to open presents. By 6am I couldn’t take it anymore, and I’d start peeking at things in my stocking which my mum always hung over the bedpost once I was asleep. That was my parents’ way of keeping me from staring them awake (when I was a kid I didn’t want to wake my parents up, but sometimes I wanted them to be awake so I could ask them something, so I’d stand in their doorway and stare at them until one of them woke up – creepy). Eventually I’d start to make too much noise and my mum would come get me, then wake up my brother (who I always slightly resented because he slept in longer than me, and it meant I had to wait for him to get up on xmas morning) and my dad.

My dad would light a fire and my mum would start breakfast while my brother and I tore into our stockings. We’d eat breakfast (usually muffins or turnovers, something easy to eat) while we opened gifts and tossed the wrapping paper into the fire after each one. We would have an hour or so to play with our toys while my parents got ready to head out for the day. Then we’d tidy up the toys and pile in the car.

My Nan’s house was always our first stop, and we usually got there well before lunch. We would all sit in a big circle with a large cardboard box in the middle (we literally used the same cardboard box for every xmas I remember), one person would get named ‘Santa‘, and they would be responsible for dishing out the gifts. After we opened everything we ate. A short time later we’d gather all our gifts and pile back into the car. We would drive (and sometimes I’d walk) over to my Gram’s house, which was less than 500m away.

I always remember the smells of walking into each grandparent’s house. My nan’s house would smell like a roast, my gram’s like roast and cigarettes. The one major difference in the two family occasions for me was the frequency in which I saw the relatives we were with. My mum’s family all lived in the same city. My dad’s family was spread out all over southern Ontario. It was rare to have all of my dad’s family together. At my gram’s, we would have another stocking to open, then another round of gifts. Then everyone would hover around the main floor kitchen (gram had 3 full kitchens in her house! and they all got used on xmas) and eat veggies and blue cheese until dinner was ready.

After dinner,  there was a constant flow of people  gathered around the pinball machine. For me, that pinball machine is an icon which represents those fun family memories. I managed to be lucky enough to inherit the pinball machine about ten years ago, but have rarely been able to have it in my ‘home‘. My parents have been more than kind in housing it and even paying for storage for it when I was homeless and broke (don’t get me wrong, I’m still broke). Recently my parents hired movers to bring it back to their house and I’m really glad they did. On xmas eve we went to my parents’ house for dinner and gifts, and I got to play pinball for the first time in almost 3 years. It really felt like xmas to me once we had a crowd gathered around the machine.

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