Mielke: Christmas full of wrapped and unwrapped gifts

Mielke: Christmas full of wrapped and unwrapped gifts

I lugged up my poor old Christmas tree, shorn of all its festive finery, from downstairs in parts this year.

It seemed too much effort to bring it all up at once.

With the proverbial Christmas countdown happening all too quickly, I seemed to feel extremely weary, and the words, “so much to do, so little time,” danced around in my head like some kind of relentless record.

I knew better. I knew very well that I should not put myself in a competition against time and Christmas.

For sure, Christmas would win every time.

There will, inevitably, be something I forgot, something I didn’t do, someone I didn’t contact. I knew there would be days when I didn’t smile at everyone, including strangers and when I used bad words to describe my car, the weather, and my life.

But, I also knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Christmas this year, as in every year that I can remember for as long as I can remember such things, would have enough moments, pure, shining and magical, to keep me believing in its magic.

I fitted the tree together with more determination that skill.

I stood back to survey my handiwork and I felt better, partially because that task was done, but mostly because I knew it wouldn’t be long now before one of those unwrapped presents of the season would be arriving at my door.

And sure enough, right on cue, she arrived, all bright and beautiful and exuberant and ready to help.

“Hi, grandma,” she said, her eyes taking in the naked tree and my living room, full of boxes half full of decorations. “Need some help?”

And so it came to be that we decorated the tree together, she and I. And, as we decorated, it seemed the tired little tree vanished and was replaced by this magnificent structure that graced my living room with elegance and style.

With reverent fingers, my granddaughter and I unwrapped priceless ornaments.

There was the red ball, all chipped and worn, lying safely in a bed of tissue paper.

“Your mom made that when she was only five,” I told her just like I have told her every Christmas for a very long time. “And your uncle made that paper cow, and your aunt made this beautiful cloth ball.”

She looked properly impressed just like she does every year, and I am pleased.

And as we decorated and chatted, it seemed the countdown to Christmas kind of got frozen, and it didn’t seem to matter very much at all that I still had a hundred, million things to do.

My husband and I visited three little boys the next day who were also decorating their tree.

The oldest, who has just turned eight, was at the playground with a friend when we arrived, but he raced home with barely a backward glance when he heard his brother yell, “we’re doing the tree and grandma and grandpa are here.” Their little brother, dressed in a Santa hat and a diaper, was already pulling decorations enthusiastically out of the boxes.

I smile at the boys, who I’m sure have no idea that they have just given me another gift.

Another unwrapped gift.

And another precious memory.

Treena Mielke lives in Sylvan Lake and is editor of the Rimbey Review. She has been a journalist and columnist for more than 25 years. Treena is married to Peter and they have three children and six grandchildren.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Attendees of the Downtown Red Deer Market, which runs every Wednesday during the summer on Little Gaetz Avenue, have complained about the lack of public washrooms. (Photo contributed by Red Deer Downtown Business Association)
Portable washrooms to be set up in downtown Red Deer this summer

More data is needed before the city invests in a permanent structure

A survey of 3,083 Red Deer residents was done by an online platform on behalf of the City of Red Deer, generating about 11,607 comments.. (File photo)
Red Deerians speak out about COVID-19 concerns in survey

More than 3,000 city residents were surveyed

A Calgary energy company's request for a tax break was turned down by Lacombe County. About $31,000 was owed by a company that went bankrupt and Silverleaf Resources Inc. bought some of their assets.
(Advocate file photo)
Lacombe County turns down oil company’s tax break request

Silverleaf Resources Inc. hoped for break on $31,000 in back taxes

RCMP recovered hundreds of stolen items, including Bibles and historical items stolen from the Bowden Pioneer Museum.
(Photo from RCMP)
Museum artifacts among hundreds of stolen items recovered by RCMP in central Alberta

Second World War and other historical and religious items recovered

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Kailer Yamamoto (56) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Morgan Rielly (44) reach for the rebound from Leafs goalie Michael Hutchinson (30) during second-period NHL action in Edmonton on Monday, March 1, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Michael Hutchinson earns 31-save shutout, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 3-0

Michael Hutchinson earns 31-save shutout, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 3-0

Washington Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman watches his solo home run during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros Monday, March 1, 2021, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
In-game video returning to baseball for 2021

In-game video returning to baseball for 2021

Winnipeg Jets' Nathan Beaulieu (88) clears the puck in front of goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) as Vancouver Canucks' Elias Pettersson (40) looks for the rebound during second-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Monday March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Three first-period goals pace Vancouver Canucks to 4-0 victory over Winnipeg Jets

Three first-period goals pace Vancouver Canucks to 4-0 victory over Winnipeg Jets

Rugby training gear is shown during a Torotno Wolfpack during a practice at Lamport Stadium in Toronto. Bradford, Featherstone, Leigh, London,  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Neil Davidson
Plans announced to create a grassroots Canadian rugby league co-op

Plans announced to create a grassroots Canadian rugby league co-op

Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) and centre Chris Tierney (71) get sandwiched between Flames defencemen Rasmus Andersson (4) and Juuso Valimaki (6) during second-period NHL action in Ottawa on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Batherson scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 5-1 win over Calgary Flames

Batherson scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 5-1 win over Calgary Flames

Skiers may be safe from COVID-19, but not those working to keep slopes open: experts

Skiers may be safe from COVID-19, but not those working to keep slopes open: experts

Armas likes what he sees in Toronto FC camp but there are still issues to resolve

Armas likes what he sees in Toronto FC camp but there are still issues to resolve

Team Canada's Jocelyne Larocque celebrates her goal past the U.S.A. with goaltender Embrace Maschmeyer during first period of Women's Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver on February 5, 2020. The Canadian women's hockey team opened a camp Monday in Halifax, which is co-hosting the upcoming world championship. Hockey Canada invited 35 players to participate in the seven-day camp closed to the public and media at Scotiabank Centre. The women are training under restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a limit of 25 players on the ice at one time. "They will continue to follow strict COVID-19 testing as per team health and safety protocols that have been detailed and approved by Nova Scotia Public Health," Hockey Canada said Monday in a statement. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canadian women’s hockey team preparing for possible May world championship

Canadian women’s hockey team preparing for possible May world championship

Most Read