Dave made the driveway grade up to the road, shifted down and spun the old International pickup onto the hard packed snow.
His grandson, Donny, chattered away about the tree they were going to get, what he had asked Santa for and what gifts he had bought or made for everyone.
Dave settled the truck into the two ruts and made his way along the lane, only having to move over once to let the Simpsons by with a wave and a “Merry Christmas.”
They got to the wood lot and trudged through knee-deep snow until they found a clearing with just the right tree.
Dave laid down the burlap and the two of them dug out the root ball and tied it up.
Grandpa explained that it would be planted beside the others after Christmas and they would eventually make a nice wind break along the east fence line.
As they pulled back into the yard, Dave noticed there was no visitor’s car there yet.
They carried in the tree and plunked in the barrel stave tub that his son, Dan, had retrieved from the barn.
Donny opened the box of decorations and, after Mom had placed a string of lights around the branches, he began skillfully applying the old paper chains, baubles and hand-carved ornaments.
Mary came out from the kitchen, rubbing her hands on her apron.
She gave Dave a hug and said, “I think that’s the best tree we’ve ever had.” Dave gave her a peck on the cheek and thought this wasn’t the time to mention that she said that every year.
He followed her back into the kitchen where pots of vegetables, all from their own garden, bubbled and steamed on the stove top filling the kitchen with a combination of smells that only materialized at Christmas.
He made a rum and eggnog for himself and another for Dan and walked over to the window just as a pair of headlights swung in off the road.
“I think they’re here,” he called into the kitchen.
He went to the door and watched the big Buick Roadmaster with Alberta plates slide to a stop beside his truck.
His sister-in law gave him a hug at the doorway and headed for Mary.
His brother, Don, grabbed two big suitcases out of the trunk and made his way to the door.
He stopped at the threshold and Dave smiled and said, “Don, Don it’s so good to see you after all these years.”
“Dave, Dave, Dave — you have to wake up and have something to eat,” his care aid whispered.
Dave opened his eyes and took in the stark whiteness of his small room. The Christmas smells had been replaced with an antiseptic, sterile odour.
“Dave, at least have some soup, you have to keep your strength up.”
Dave waved away the soup, turned on his side and pulled the covers up.
He had to go back to sleep and get back to the kitchen. Mary would be asking him to take the turkey out of the oven any minute now.
That was always his job.
This weekend is about making memories that you can bundle and save and hide away until you need them.
Make sure they contain all the best things about the season, the smells, the sounds and the love.
Merry Christmas to all, God bless us, every one.
At least that’s what McGregor says.