Christmas in June

I used to have a minor addiction to checking celebrity-babies dot com. For the last several years, it has been an integral part of my morning internet routine: email, facebook, calgary herald, and But at some point (I blame the lack of television) I stopped recognizing the featured celebrities. Which made catching up on their ‘news’ decidedly less interesting.

But because my hands and brain are on auto pilot, I still do my daily check. These days it’s mostly to see which older-than-me celebrities are having babies, and, occasionally to snort at the celebrity quotes featured in the ‘mom said it’ section. Like yesterday’s gem offered by Michelle Monaghan (no idea who she is), who gushed that when you’re a mother ‘every day feels like Christmas‘.

I snorted, and filed it away to share with the professor at just the right time.

That time came a couple of hours later, after a trip to the Farmer’s Market and a subsequent stop at Camper’s Village to pick up a pocket knife for the Gort (he’d saved up for it.) Someone was in the throes of a tantrum; I honestly can’t remember who it was because, at least for this mother, someone always seems to be losing it over something completely arbitrary. ‘Just like Christmas,’ I muttered and told the professor about the celebrity-gem. ‘Maybe she meant it’s like Christmas…..without presents,’ he guessed. ‘Yeah,’ I laughed, ‘like the kids were all psyched for Christmas and then found out Santa hadn’t brought them any presents.’

Maybe that kind of Christmas?

And we went inside Camper’s Village so the Gort could get his pocket knife. And Percy fell in love with a hotdog roaster and decided he had to have a hot dog roaster. Followed by a terrific ‘lamentation’ inside Camper’s Village when I told him  he couldn’t get one.

‘Christmas,’ I told the professor, nodding my head in the direction of the flailing child.

Fast forward less than twenty four hours later, and it was Father’s Day. I asked the professor what he wanted to do, and he opted for a hike. Over breakfast, we discussed the hike with the boys and the professor, trying to drum up excitement, told the Gort they could look for sticks and ‘whittle’ them with his brand-new pocket knife. ‘What’s whittling?’ the Gort wanted to know. ‘I’ll show you,’ the professor explained.

Instead of waiting for a tutorial, the Gort apparently decided to teach himself how to ‘whittle’ because mere minutes later, as I was helping Percy get dressed, he came running in the house, screaming, because he had cut.his.finger with the pocket knife. I shifted into crisis management mode. The professor drove to Shopper’s Drug for gauze and more band-aids. The Gort lamented buying a pocket knife, crying ‘who even came up with the idea of pocket knives’ and ‘you should just give it to Percy because he would be more responsible with it!’ and it wasn’t even 10am.

Three hours later, we finally managed to load everyone in the car for the aforementioned hike. We stopped at Bragg Creek because someone needed a bathroom, which turned into five people using a bathroom, which turned into a stop at the Trading Post, which turned into Percy finding an axe and demanding that I buy him the axe.

‘Did you see what happened to the Gort’s finger?!’ I nearly lost my mind. ‘And that was just with a pocket knife, imagine what would happen if we let you have an axe!’ This exchange of logic led to another delightful, rather loud lamentation about ‘you never let me get what I want, and all I really want is this axe.’

And there I am, standing in the Trading Post, listening to a three year old yelling about an axe (or hache en francais – sometimes that bilingual labelling is so informative!) and all I can think is ‘what fresh hell is this’.

Instead, I say, ‘Christmas,’ to the map-perusing professor, and walk away.

And after what feels like yet another hour, we are back in the car – accompanied by three boys with three ice creams in the backseat – driving towards Sheep River Falls, contemplating the epic journey to the heartland that awaits us next month.

The older boys had already inhaled their ice cream, while axe-loving Percy had managed to make his last. Naturally, the brothers wanted to sample his, and our mini Paul Bunyon was happy to oblige. As long as they made the animal sounds of his choosing. ‘Now do monkeys,’ he ordered, and the 9 year old and almost-six year old happily squealed like monkeys for the privilege of sampling Percy’s pink and blue frozen treat. And the professor and I howled at the littlest tyrant calling the shots.

We kept driving for what felt like an eternity, and I couldn’t help but marvel that nobody can turn a 75km drive into a three hour ordeal quite like the Johnsons. ‘I’m so tired I could DIE,’ the Hen despaired from the back. ‘It’s practice for when we go to Indiana,’ we reminded the boys. ‘This is, like, three hours, but we’re going to have to be in the car for twelve hours a day for three days.’ (Or four. Or five. In a teal Volvo 850.)


Finally, we arrived at the Falls; the Gort and the Hen both asleep as raindrops splattered on the car’s windshield. I glared at the sky. Had we come all this way only to walk in the rain? I passed out jackets and bug spray and we set off into the wilderness. Minutes later, the rain stopped. The boys happily threw rocks and sticks in the river. The Hen tripped and fell two or three times. Percy had four plop-down-on-the-ground-and-refuse-to-continue lamentations. The Gort mused aloud about how it felt like part of his finger had fallen off.



Remarkably, we kept going. For maybe an hour. Stepping over, and ducking under, branches. Bright sun and blue skies replacing grey clouds. Meandering along a made-up trail to the sound of the falls. Taking pleasure in putting one foot in front of the other, surrounded by some of the world’s finest scenery.




Later, as we drove (directly!) back to Calgary, I stumbled on a different interpretation of Michelle whatshername’s words. Maybe she meant Christmas in the fullest sense – the anticipation, excitement, and presents along with human foibles, unmet expectations, too much sugar and not enough sleep.

Yes, every day does feel like Christmas.

5 thoughts on “Christmas in June

  1. Love! I’m a big fan of whitteling, too bad it didn’t go so well in your house, imagine the gifts you could have gotten out of it.

  2. There was a childhood camping trip (my childhood) that involved my brother, whittling and a trip to emergency! HAHA!

  3. Roberta – this should have warranted a trip to the ER. I took him in the next day and they said ‘too late’ for stitches. Hopefully Nu-Skin does the trick.


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