“Smile. Act like you like each other.” – Deb Trembath, aka Mom.
Holidays with the Trembath’s are dramatic affairs. Five women in a household is a tad overwhelming any time of year, but Christmas brings out the best and worst of humanity and growing up with three sisters my memories are a mixture of delight and despair when I recall Christmas’s from the past.
My mom upholds tradition in our family like no other. Despite the fighting and roundabout schedules, we have a few long-standing rituals my mom created just for us. When we were kids, aside from the advent calendar filled with chocolate sweets, my mom told us stories of the ‘Christmas elves’ who would visit and hide oranges and other small treats in our shoes.
And on Christmas Eve, my sisters and I receive a new pair of pajamas that match. And, a very large part of the tradition, there’s always an argument because someone hates the color, cut, or style of the pj’s and refuses to put them on. Aly’s hot pink leotard (a poor choice, to be fair) sat under the tree till February when my mom gave up and took them back. This year Rebe helped select the pj’s and everyone preferred the simple black and red flannel.
My sisters, who I adore and am grateful to say they’re my best friends and biggest support system, surprise me with their generosity and good humor whenever I go home to visit. The rebound rate after arguments is at an all time low; I’m inclined to think it’s because we stopped stealing each other’s clothes and have stopped carrying the burden of ruining someone else’s good shoes or hair iron.
I was happy to have captured some pretty great moments with my family on December 24 + 25 before I was told to put away my camera and “quit taking so many god damn food flatlays.” (Fred just doesn’t get Instagram, it would seem.)
Amanda, now 24 and over her fear of Santa Claus, was terrified of the man all in red with the bushy beard and would cry each Eve at the thought of Santa scooting down our chimney. This year, Manda pulled two graveyard shifts at the hospital and still showed up at my apartment in Vancouver at 8am with Van Gough Espresso Vodka and a bag of chocolate chip muffins to wish me a happy birthday.
Rebecca, who at 16 somehow became the secret keeper of the family, graciously accepted the bullying of her big sisters for years and gave up her bed to sleep on the basement loveseat. My mom finally bought a pull-out couch so this Christmas Rebe could enjoy her own bed, until roughly 7am when me and Georgie jump in, just for old times sake.
Alyson, adulting hard with her own apartment at 21, often surprises everyone in the family with her good sense of humour and carefully selected gifts for everyone in the family. On Christmas Eve Aly cleared the living room to sing and salsa, showing my mom how to twist and twirl before sending her down for a dip and tossing her onto the floor.
Georgie, Fred’s favorite little girl, has grown up to be quite the lady. Since The Day of The Garbage Bag and The Grapes, no one dares feed little George even a sniff of human food. When she’s not hiding under the table waiting for food to be dropped, you can find wee George tucked tight between someone’s thighs, where it’s the most warm.
Deb, whose age I can never remember and that’s probably for the best, gave everyone a new book and a piece of chocolate for xmas, because who doesn’t like to go to bed with a light read and a sweet? It’s a lovely idea and one that my mom hopes to continue for years to come. (I should mention that my book is about three sisters who get kidnapped and are forced into a cult where they’re treated as sex slaves. Light read indeed!)
Fred, whose age I can always remember because he’s exactly 30 years my senior, is the most patient and enduring human on the planet. My dad never fails to quell fights with a soft or stern hand depending on the occasion. Christmas’s with my dad are always the same: watching What About Bob or Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, organizing a six person game of Monopoly and hiking Mike Lake when absolutely nobody, but my dad, wants to.
Stephanie (me), the smallest of the four and 28 years old on Christmas Eve. I came wrapped in a Santa toque and a peppermint candy cane and I’m sure both my parents have wondered about their gift receipt since the day I was born. I asked for a vegan chocolate cake with cashew butter for my birthday that my mom graciously made but spent a full day stressing over and Googling (so I heard). High maintenance is my middle name.
Featured Image | Annie Spratt via StockSnap