Response to last week’s compilation of Good Bad Christmas stories was positive and swift. With so many good bad tales, there wasn’t room for mine. And now we’re bustling. Shopping, baking, wrapping. Putting on the final touches so we can get down to business outside of the office for a change.
I’ll just quickly share my story and leave you to the wondrous season ahead. And, as we say in Jazzercise – Merry Fitness and a Happy New Rear!
2006: Damn. The Christmas season again. My husband Hugh has been gone just two years. I wander through Rona with my friend Deb, picking out some things for my Grand Bend cottage. Deb calls it The Dragonfly Inn, because of my far-out dragonfly stories. There’s the one from Chicken Soup for the Grieving Soul, about the young girl who heard a tale about dragonflies from her mother. Her mother had attended a funeral and the priest likened dying to the transformation of water bug to dragonfly.
“In the midst of its joyful flight,” said the priest, “it remembered its promise it had made to return and tell the other bugs where it had gone. So the dragonfly swooped down to the surface of the water, but try as it would, it could not return.” The water bugs would just have to wait their turn, the dragonfly decided.
The young girl said, “Mom that’s really beautiful!” Then, a couple of days later, she died in a car accident. The distraught mother was visited by dragonflies, one while she looked at a rose in a greenhouse and then later, hundreds swarmed her house.
Hugh knew the story, then sent dragonflies to me after he died. It was in the summer, the day after my first birthday without him. He’d called himself Huge – and he was, in size, in personality – and the 30-some dragonflies he sent were huge black ungraceful things.
So, I should be reassured. Should be okay, you know, because dragonflies have proven magic exists. But as I trudge through Rona, I hear, “I really can’t stay – Baby it’s cold outside. I’ve got to go away – Baby it’s cold outside.” Magic eludes me due to anger. Without even thinking, my first thought is, Yeah, well, baby it’s cold inside too.
Then I see exactly what I need for The Dragonfly Inn: a ten-foot artificial tree! Hugh and I always had a real tree. Deb helps me put it on the cart, load it into The Fridge – my Yukon, also named by Deb. We drive to Grand Bend. Once there, we talk about putting on Christmas music, but Hugh loved to tease me about how into it I was. Instead I pick a DVD by Page and Plant. Unledded. Perfect. We pour rum and egg nog. We hack up our forearms pulling all of those fake (but remarkably real-looking) limbs apart and stacking five parts together. Thankfully, tall gentlemen friends show up when we get to the sixth and highest part. The new golden angel on the top glows fibre-optically when we plug the lights in.
Now: I still have that tree and, after nine years of putting it up, my fiancé B is an expert. It’s at the house now, because of my granddaughters, but to get through those first few Christmases, The Dragonfly Inn was our sanctuary. When the tree comes out, B and I pour rum and egg nog (almond milk egg nog for me now) and put on Unledded. I do enjoy Christmas music again. Like when I teach the Jazzercise Christmas Bash class. And when I play Run Run Rudolph, practicing the Jazz Bash in my head, and granddaughter Naomi Lou wants to hear it, “Again. Again.” And I love to hear her older sister Simone sing, “Jinger bells, jinger bells, jinger all the way.”
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