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.

Just Posted

Shipping oil by rail questioned

Red Deer-area mayors respond

Country star Gord Bamford and The Reclaws perform free Games concert Friday

Show starts at 6:30 p.m. in heated dome off Celebration Plaza in downtown Red Deer

Survey looks at social isolation among older men

Partnership between Red Deer College and Golden Circle Resource Centre

Peruvian brothers travel nearly 8,000 km to volunteer at Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

Italo and Mirko Del Castillo say Canadian warmth contrasts with twinter cold

Pride Days celebrated for first time at Canada Winter Games on Feb. 21 and 28

Pride Days are another first for Red Deer’s 2019 Canada Winter Games.… Continue reading

Gardening: What are you planting in 2019?

What’s new in plants for 2019? Checking catalogues, greenhouses and stores will… Continue reading

Opinion: I spy another energy hypocrite

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. The mittens provided to… Continue reading

Canada’s bobsleigh team races World Cup on Calgary home track facing closure

CALGARY — Canada’s skeleton and bobsled teams will race a World Cup… Continue reading

Italy becomes ninth international football league to join forces with CFL

TORONTO — Add Italy to the growing list of international football federations… Continue reading

Toronto Defiant Overwatch academy team to be known as the Montreal Rebellion

MONTREAL — The Toronto Defiant’s Overwatch academy team will be known as… Continue reading

Canadian fashion and design insiders recall Karl Lagerfeld’s charm, ingenuity

TORONTO — Several Canadian fashion and design experts who knew couture icon… Continue reading

Millennial Money: Make your funds move at the speed of life

Change is constant — especially when you’re young. Chances are you’ll cycle… Continue reading

TSB says improved tankers involved in Manitoba derailment that spilled crude

ST. LAZARE, Man. — Federal investigators say CN rail cars that spilled… Continue reading

Most Read