The scratched and unpolished table at our cabin was cloth-less. Each of our paper plates was heaped with Christmas roast, mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and caramelised vegetables, all smothered in steamy brown gravy. There weren’t enough chairs to hold every person in my huge Utah-sized family, so we gathered lawn chairs from the patio, dusted them off and tucked them in around the dining room table.
The entire cabin was filled with a buzz of excitement and the roar of competing voices over the sound of children and dogs playing together with their new Christmas toys. Heads bobbed just above the surface of the table for those who were unlucky enough to find themselves in a lawn chair but good humour excused the lack of sophistication we collectively have as a family.
We talked about Europe and dreamed about vacations we could take together as parts of my family met up with me in England this year. The conversation was light and unbothered by the woes of day to day life. As we finished and the chatter died down, a happy and comfortable silence began to set in – the kind that accompanies full bellies and a fire slightly too warm in the fireplace. Steve, my brother-in-law and food enthusiast, briefly left the table to dish up seconds. As he entered the room to resume his place he exclaimed, “You know what?” a pause quieted the table and I turned to look at him; He was staring at his plate decidedly before stating, “I think I’m going to get some carrots”. He turned back to the kitchen with a decided air as if loudly declaring his choice for second serving of caramelised carrots was team effort and we were offering moral support. An involuntary laugh escaped me.
In that moment, I couldn’t help but adore my family for all of their quirks and personalities. There’s privilege in knowing someone so well you can say “yep, that’s Steve” and laugh, not at them, but at the special family bond that unites us in ways that we’ll never be united with people outside of our little clan. There’s a comfort that allows me to be my truest and silliest self that I only feel among this group who has known me everyday of my life. It’s reassuring to know that I have a large group of like-minded (or at least like-humoured) individuals who have my back no matter what and that the holiday season will always bring us together in one way or another. With our non-tradition traditions like waffles with bacon cooked right in, pyjamas on Christmas Eve, and a Christmas dinner prayer that’s so long kids start sneaking nibbles off their rolls, we try our best to meet together as a family and celebrate a special time of year with people who matter to us the very most.