A Most Memorable Christmas Eve
Christmas?, I asked, only to hear my mom respond over the phone, without hesitation, No.
Ok, I replied, and that was that. Me and the kids, Benjamin at 16 and Alex at 21, at home for Christmas, unlike the normal Christmases, even though normal has never meant exactly the same every year. Venues have shifted, as has the number and constellation of family members. But often, Christmas has been spent at my mom’s place.
When I tell the kids, the idea that we don’t have to do, or eat, what we normally do on Christmas arises.
Said and done, we decide to cook dinner together, a non-Christmasy dinner. Benjamin asks Do we have to watch Kalle Anka? meaning the Donald Duck/Disney-one-hour collection of cartoons that’s been broadcasted on Swedish TV at three pm every Christmas Eve since 1960. I say No, but I probably will.
As the day approaches, I decide I will get the mulled (non-alcoholic) wine with peeled almonds and raisins, ginger bread and a saffron sponge cake – my mom had sent it our way a few weeks earlier, keeping vigil in the freezer until the time had come. And time had come. – ready by three pm, and that I would watch Kalle Anka, ensuring the kids they were free to do whatever they wanted.
Imagine my surprise, when all three of us huddled on the sofa in front of my 15 inch-MacBook Pro, with cups and saucers filled with goodies, watching Kalle Anka together. When the clock strikes four, we get off the sofa, clear away all the used kitchenware and start to cook. Panko-fried cauliflower, minced meat/veggie-patties with feta cheese, potato gratin and a salad. Two hours later, we sit down to eat, and after a little while, Alex asks if we could do a type of quiz, where one person ask the others a question (each, or the same to both), passing the baton to the next person after hearing the replies.
This is when the true magic of the day starts.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
When will you move out, from home?
What’s your biggest strength?
Was it a single incident or more a gradual build that led to you and dad divorcing?
What’s your take on porn?
Do you see why I might be concerned with you living a fairly sedentary life?
What have you learned from me?
Is there anything you regret in how you’ve parented us?
Do you see yourself living in this house for the rest of your life?
As you are shifting your name from Alma to Alex, sometimes you say Alma, sometimes Alex, and people also call you both. Does it get kind of schizophrenic with two names?
Is there anything you regret in how you treated me when we were younger?
What do you think of me?
What are you most proud of with regards to us?
Do you see yourself living alone for the rest of your life?
If you meet someone, and they have kids, what then? Will they move in with us here?
Some questions led to long responses, spawning follow-up-questions, having not just one of us respond, but all.
Some questions gave way to deep belly-laughs.
Some questions had me all teary eyed.
By the time we’d finished eating, opened a few Christmas gifts each, scratched the Triss-lottery tickets mom had passed along with the sponge cake and the apple pie we’d had as a dessert (making sure she was with us, even though she spend her Christmas Eve with her sister, 100 kilometers away), it was four hours later, and my heart was filled with gratitude.
Conjured from nothing, the level of human relating taking place wasn’t thought out, wasn’t planned, wasn’t expected. Allowing for the unfolding of what wanted to happen, the three of us connected, deeply, on a soul-to-soul-to-soul level new for the three of us. Alleviating whatever fears I have that I am a parental failure (You know. The usual… Divorced even before my firstborn was born, then divorced again when they were both in their teens, having had anger-issues of my own their first years in life, definitely not always as present as I would have wanted to be, to name but a few). My fears were waylaid completely by means of the beautiful, heartfelt, important, huge and humorous questions asked. Of the honesty and sincerity in answering, how cringe-worthy moments were not avoided, but met head on. Asking for clarifications when needed, making sure both questions and answers were received in line with the intention and manner with which they were given. At the interaction between the three of us, the tenderness and love shown in asking, answering and listening.
A Christmas Eve I will forever remember.