Thursday, December 3, 2009
My parents divorced when I was five and I always looked forward to the Christmas' I got to spend with my mom because they were always so special. For one I rarely got to see my mom because she lived in Prince George and I lived on Vancouver Island and the other reason was because Christmas spent with Grandma and Grandpa Doll was always lively and filled with endless amounts of laughter.To me, Christmas has nothing to do with presents but instead has to do with time spent with your family, bonding over hot chocolate, marshmallows roasting on an open fire, and the terror of snow balls taking you out...one by one.
The Doll Christmas vacation began a few days before Christmas Eve. Grandma and Grandpa always booked a sleigh ride (in Prince George it snows...a lot). All of us met at the ranch (Grandma and Grandpa, Uncle Trent, Aunt Cheryl and their two boys Brandon and Jamie, my mom and her three kids, me, Greg and Jared and my Aunty Sandy and her daughter Kristina and in later years when my aunt Trina moved back to Prince she would come too with her three kids in tow). Once we were all assembled we all hopped into a hay covered sleigh with bales lining the sides for us to sit on. The two giant Clydesdales horses began trotting us through the bush, pulling all of us to the mid way stop where we would all get out, gather around a fire, sing songs, roast marshmallows, and then...the terror would begin.
Imagine if you will, six children all under the age of 12, playing, laughing, giggling, then one of them picks up a snow ball and hurles it at the other, it was an inevitable turn of events, and thats when you heard it. My Uncle Trent, the baseball player..the pitcher, bend over and mold the snow into a wickedly packed ball. "I'll give you a head start" he would often announce, and then the running, sceaming, and stumbling would begin as we all tried in vain to find shelter. I don't know if you've ever been hit with a snowball traveling a hundred miles an hour, but if you have, you know it hurts, and if you know my Uncle Trent, you know he never held back.
I liken the experience to a Slow motion video, with the song "War" by Edwin Starr in the background. Everyone running in different directions, screaming unintelligibly, begging for mercy, suddenly you would glance to your right only to see the first casuality fall (usually Brandon) A snow ball practically knocking him unconscious, his body twisting in the air, landing with a soft thud onto the snow pack, the screaming would intensify, no one knowing who was next. Then bam, Jared, goes down, a snowball square in his back, his arms flailing, his eyes searching ours beseachingly, but no, we couldnt stop, we had to run. Next it was Jamie, his screeches echoed for miles, you could almost sense his body burn with snow ball pain, taste it on the air...the blood of the snow ball fallen...everywhere. Krissy and I always stuck together, she was always the last to get it, Trent favoured her. I knew it. Stay behind Krissy, Stay behind Krissy. Whose next?? GREG, No not quite, Greg was always the survivor, he pretends the well aimed snowball took him out, damn you Greg, DAMN YOU! Krissy and I make it, we hide behind the trees, breaths coming hard, "he's going to come around" Krissy would whisper to me. Then when all seemed lost, a ceasefire was called. Uncle Trent called out "we're leaving guys, lets get back on the sleigh"...was it true? I peak around the tree and "WHACK", I get it directly in the face... I hit the ground hard with a whimper. Finally, Grandma calls out the true ceasefire and Krissy escapes, unhurt, once again.
All but one of us limp back to the sleigh (Krissy cold and terrified but unharmed for one more year) where we ride back to the starting point. We all make our way over to Grandmas or Uncle Trents for dinner, snacks, and SANTA! He always visited us, our special family, "ho ho hoing" down the drive way, bag on his back, presents to hand out! After cheerfully visiting with Santa we would then all pass out, snuggled next to eachother, smiles on our faces, content and happy. Christmas was here.