I am both orderly and disorderly, in every sense of the word. To keep myself on the straight and narrow, I keep a Christmas file, a folder that goes back to 1984, the year I moved to Montreal to begin my life with Dr. Doug.
This year I decided was going to be one of the orderly years. I will send out my Christmas cards early, I decided. Sometimes I miss the deadline altogether, and one year, when I was a student, I sent out my Christmas cards in July (either very late, or very early, depending on your point of view.) Unfortunately, I often misplace this file and can't find it when I want it. Today is one of those days. I found part of the file, but the reason I need it right now - for the list of addresses I keep for cards - is nowhere to be found. Obviously, I had the brilliant idea to keep the card file in a better, separate, new and improved location, but now I forget where that is. I sometimes hide jewelry too, which is why my good pearls are temporarily misplaced. They're probably with the other half of my Christmas file.
It is kind of fun to rifle through the old papers on a nostalgic ride into the past. I'm a master list maker; recipients of cards and their addresses sent and received, Christmas gifts to be considered or purchased or carried over to the next year, grocery lists for Christmas dinner, background music, baking projects and recipes - it's all in the master file. It's amazing to see how the gift list and number of recipients has whittled down over the years. Nieces and nephews grow, friends move on or pass on. Addresses change, we lose touch, or friendships wither because of misunderstandings or simply because we outgrow one another.
But my recipes are constants. And even if I wanted to change them up, I am cautioned by my family not to deviate from the traditional menu - roast turkey, although now my daughters insist on an organic turkey, raised under a rainbow and massaged daily by its caregiver until it is led gently into the good night and into our oven, stuffing made from chunks of baguette, green apples, mushrooms and walnuts, mashed potatoes and gravy, mashed turnip with maple syrup and cinnamon, steamed broccoli, and my mother-in-law's steamed carrot pudding and hard sauce for dessert.
And the baked goods, oh, the baked goods: my grandmother's shortbread, chocolate balls, truffles, my mother's buttertarts, nut shorties, Fat Alberts (a recent introduction, these toffee squares are seriously addictive), amongst others. I can introduce a few new baked goods as long as they join the favourites, not replace them.
I always get sentimental when I go through this file, remembering Christmases past when the kids were young. I found this today, and I hope you get as much of a kick from it as I did. My daughter was four and attended French school at the time. It's a bit of a polite meander, then right to the point.
In case you have trouble reading it, it says:
Dear Santa Claws!
How did you been?
Did you had a nice summer?
How's your life?
Give us all presents.
(heart) Sarah, age 4
Now I'm off to look for that damn list.