This freezing Winter Solstice I find myself running around the yard for the second time this week. Instead of putting last minute touches on greenery we’re collecting broken branches and chasing tumbleweeds that once were Christmas wreaths and little trees festooned with sparkling lights. While discouraging, it just sort of rolls with that chaotic Christmas energy.

Ah the holidays, a lovely jumble of coloured lights, repetitive music, too much food, too much wine, loud laughter and I love it all. I grew up in a family of 11 and Christmas was always my favourite kind of chaos.

This year the joyful chaos has been interrupted by the addition of several storm systems that continue to blow through Nova Scotia. The roaring wind is unsettling and chills me to the bone. I’m thinking of all of the homeless people huddled in tents and those working at sea who have been tossed around on the icy waves of the North Atlantic. It’s a always joyous time of year for those of us fortunate to be warm in our homes with our only complaint being that we have consumed too many rich foods.

It has been a challenging year for all of us. On a large scale, the planet is in complete chaos and the cost of existing continues to skyrocket. In our Pleasant Street Living world, things break, vehicles breakdown, best laid plans go astray while we struggle to catch up blah blah blah. How’s that for spreading yuletide joy? Life isn’t always easy and I am aware that they could be a great deal worse. We are constantly reminding ourselves that we are very fortunate people and to give back whenever we can.

While I rarely get stressed about Christmas, I sometimes get overwhelmed by the speed in which the days fly by once December 1st hits. I could never strive for anything remotely close to perfection, especially during the holidays. I’m grateful to have friends and family who feel the same way.

For me, Christmas is all about memories. Memories of waking before dawn on Christmas morning. We’d all rush downstairs to see our nine (yes large family), matching, red felt stockings hanging in front of the fireplace just bursting at the seams. Mom was an expert stocking packer and always added a few games and puzzles to keep us occupied until lunch when we opened our gifts. Our teeth positively chattered with a mixture of excitement and greed.

I carry my love of Christmas with me each year. No matter the circumstances, there will always be a wonky tree ( it must be real) with coloured lights and every ornament that I’ve ever been given or collected throughout my life. It’s a storied tree including the Empire State Building, a Beatles record and Mr Nice Guy Glasses. My house at Christmas has often been compared to Pee Wee’s Playhouse and certainly wouldn’t be featured in any home decor magazines.

So it’s the Solstice, the darkest day of the year. Tomorrow the days will begin to get a bit longer and hopefully a bit brighter. Let’s hope that the weather becomes a bit more forgiving for those who struggle to keep warm. Let’s hope that world leaders begin to see the light and curb their own particular chaos.

Amid the joyful chaos of Christmas and life in general, let’s forget about trying to be perfect. I haven’t even finished my Christmas cards yet. Life can’t be perfect, but let’s do all that we can to make it pleasant for everyone that we meet.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Susan and Cameron