A Ruby Kind of Christmas

Rubys Broach
“Tell that Mushy-Fella that this one’s for him.”

Ruby, try as she might to insist that she “don’t trust that Internet”, gets a real kick out of the comments I relate to her – especially when they come from Mushy. She laughs the hardest when he begs for a photo, but won’t let me post one. She won’t let me send him one “privately”, either. She’s even made me swear not to post one after she’s, um… “gone”. That sucks, ‘cuz she is a beautiful lady and I would love to be able to share her visage with you all.

She is very proud of this broach. It belonged to her mother (and those of you familiar with “Ruby’s Mother” as depicted in The Waitress should know that I “cut her out of whole cloth”, as Ruby says – in fact, her nose is a little out of joint about that part of the story, because her mother was nothing like the woman in that story. I have promised to make up for it by posting Ruby’s “Real” Mother in another post, and I will, ‘cuz she was quite the lady, too.).

Anyway, it was Ruby’s idea to take the picture of the broach, to “tease” Mushy with. So, Mushy, there you have it. My Landlady is a great big Tease, with a capital “T”. Merry Christmas.

This particular post should have gone up on Christmas Eve – Christmas Day at the latest – but, as usual, I’m behind the times. I considered “cheating” (gasp! Me? CHEAT?!), and back-dating it, but that would be, well, cheating, wouldn’t it?

I wanted to know what Christmas was like for Ruby, when she was a girl growing up in Northland. That’s a real place, by the way, and if I even mention it to her, the stories start flowing…

Oh, our Christmases weren’t nothin’ like what you get nowadays, let me tell you! We didn’t have none of this buy, buy, buy, like the kids expect now, no Sir! I don’t blame the kids, mind you – that’s all their parents’ fault. Buy ’em everything under the sun, and then expect them not to be spoiled and cranky… Ha! Fools.

We did have a Christmas tree, though. My dad would go out into the bush and cut one down and drag it home. We’d decorate it all up with bows and popcorn strings, and sometimes we’d hang coloured paper-chains off it, if we had the makings. It’d look right pretty, too. No lights, though, on account of we didn’t have any electricity back in Northland way back then. No way to run it in, you know.

Me: Did you put candles on it?

Good God, no! My mother would have had a fit! She’da been afraid the place would burn to the ground, and it probably would’ve, too. No insurance, either, back then, so no. No candles. Still, we had the tree and it smelled so nice! Sometimes, we’d have branches strung over the tops of the windows, too, for the smell, but that was only if the tree was too big and my dad had to trim it down. Made a right mess to clean up – needles all over the place!

Me: Did you make cranberry strings?

What? No! Where’d we get cranberries from?! (laughs like I should have known better)

And we’d only get one gift. Sometimes, it would be a doll, or a skipping rope. I still remember the year I got the plaid snowpants. Oh, they were wonderful snowpants – red plaid, and real fancy. They were all the rage that year! They were fashioned after “britches” with a big flare coming down off the hips, and they tapered down tight at the ankles. I’ll never forget those snowpants ’til the day I die.

Me: Did Santa come?

Of course Santa came! Santa was Christmas when we were kids – that’s how my mother kept us in line. None of us wanted coal in our stockings, now, did we? But, that’s what we got, was a stocking – and it wasn’t stuffed full of toys and money, neither. No, it wasn’t “stuffed” at all, just lumpy-looking in the morning, and we never knew for sure until we stuck our hands in, whether or not it might be coal we’d pull out, after all.

We never did get coal, though, so we must have been pretty good kids. We’d get an apple, and almost every year we got an orange, too, which was a real treat, ‘cuz oranges were hard to come by in the winter up here back then. And we always got a couple of handfuls of those little hard striped Christmas candies. That’s what Santa brought.

After breakfast, we’d go out tobogganing if the the weather was fine, and that’s how we spent the day.

We never had a turkey, either. Seems strange, doesn’t it? I can’t truthfully imagine Christmas dinner without a turkey anymore, but we raised chickens, and my mother would kill two or three of them
(and not the way you wrote her killin’ them, either!), and that was Christmas dinner, along with potatoes and turnip and the Christmas pudding.

Sure is different nowadays.

I can just see that little house all decked out for Christmas, the table lit after dark with a coal-oil lamp, and a dim but pretty popcorn-laden evergreen in one corner. And I can smell it, along with the peanut brittle that Ruby’s mother always made, just like the little box of brittle Ruby gave to me and Ky for Christmas this year.

I’m sorry this was late – I would have rather had it posted when we were all in the spirit, instead of relieved it was finally over again for another year. Next year, God willing, Ruby will add to the story.

Not-So-Random Song for the Day: “Silent Night” – Reba McEntire Ruby’s Favourite Christmas Carol (and version)