by Tiara Jade Chutkhan
Canadian – Indo Caribbean
I can still picture the record player. The shiny vinyl spinning round while classic Christmas songs like Boney M’s Mary’s Boy Child fill the house. We’re all dressed in our best; the adults with a drink in their hand, a small plate of finger foods in the other. Glowing string lights hang across the walls and lie on top of the three Victorian style hutches that line one living room wall. Beneath the tree are shiny gift bags; green, red and gold. The smell of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy seep through the kitchen doors. Warmth, laughter, anticipating a visit from Santa Claus; that was Christmas Eve at my grandparents’ house.
Every year we spent Christmas Eve with my dad’s parents; two connoisseurs of Christmas. During the festive time of year they spared no expense, making sure the house was decorated, stocked with traditional dishes, appetizers, chocolates, and gifts for the family.
My Grandma was a wizard with her sewing machine, using silky fabrics in beautiful colours like emerald green and royal purple to make me gowns each year for Christmas Eve. Dressed in my gown, my hair styled in two tight braids, I’d be ready for the night ahead. The drive from our home to theirs consisted of me gazing at the Christmas lights on apartment balconies and the front lawns of houses, soaking up every second of the holiday magic.
Like me, my Grandma would be dressed in a beautiful gown she had likely made herself. Her makeup and nails done, hair bouncy from the curlers she’d had in during the day. My Grandpa would be clean shaven, a classic man in a white dress shirt and black dress pants. The coffee tables would be filled with platters of cheeses, olives, crackers, and chocolates I’d sneak well before dinner. My Grandma was a social butterfly, making her way around the room, spending time with all her guests. My Grandpa, in charge of music and drinks, mixed colourful cocktails and kept his eye on the records, ensuring the music never stopped for a second.
I was lucky to have twenty-one Christmases with my grandparents. In June of 2017 my Grandpa passed away, my Grandma following just seven months later in January of 2018. It was hard to wrap our heads around the first Christmas without the two of them. We stayed home on Christmas Eve and I longed for their presence at such an important time of year. I waited for my Grandma’s phone call on Christmas morning, hurt when it never came.
It’s been almost four years, and I can still hear the music, smell her perfume, taste the turkey. My grandparents embodied the Christmas spirit in every way imaginable and each year those precious memories remind me why I love this time of year so much. On Christmas morning, I like to picture them together, dressed in their best, “cheersing” a glass of champagne as they wish each other a Merry Christmas.