Allison Temple Blog

Awkward and Thoroughly Kissable
Posts tagged Nana
The Last Christmas
The Last Christmas.png

The Last Christmas.png

It's 12:11 on Christmas morning--or is it Christmas afternoon? My parents should be here in 20 minutes or so. This is a big deal. The first Christmas in my house. A rite of pasage

In order for new traditions have to start, old ones have to fade away. I hung on to the tradition of Christmas morning at Mom and Dad's longer than a lot of my contemporaries. My husband is Jewish, so there was never any question of whose family we go to spend Christmas with. His job has him working on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. Most years I take the train to my hometown a few days ahead of the holidays, and wake up--if not in my childhood bedroom (it's the sewing room now)--at least in my childhood home.

But Christmas has been getting smaller. We don't have kids, so the frenzied magic of Santa has faded. My brother works in hospitality, so there's no question of him making the 6-hour trek at the busiest time of year. And his 13-year-old son, until this year, lived two timezones away with his mom. So Christmas got smaller.

My parents and I would roll out of bed whenever, and drink mimosas until it was time for my grandmother to arrive. Sometimes we'd be joined by an aunt and uncle, or a family friend or two. We stopped making turkey, because there weren't enough mouths to feed. We stopped collapsing into bed at 10 pm, full of too much poultry, gravy, stuffing, chocolate, wine, and whatever else, and instead started waving goodbye to our senior guests around 6 pm, and then binging something good on Netflix.

This October, we lost my grandmother, who had been too old to travel for the holidays for at least the last 10 years. I said I'd like to spend Christmas with my husband for a change (novel, I know). We said we'd move Christmas to Toronto. We'd invite the Jewish in-laws. Three weeks ago, my mom called and said she didn't think gifts were necessary this year.

You never know when the last time will be the last time. Traditions change and fade. When will be the last time you wish someone Merry Christmas? When will be the last time you rub sleep from your eyes and wander into the homey scents of your parents' kitchen?

Hug your loved ones today. Start new traditions, but appreciate the old ones, just in case it's the last time.

Nana Through the Looking Glass
IMG_1219.JPG

IMG_1219.JPG

"Whether I knew it then or not, I've been a writer since the second grade, when I wrote a short story about a girl and her horse. My grandmother typed it out for me and said she’d never seen so many quotation marks from a seven-year-old before."

You'll recognize this if you've read my bio (on this blog, in my books, or elsewhere). I guess you could say my Nana was my first editor.

A year ago, nearly 30 years after that first horsey short story, I wrote a novel about an artist who lived above a used bookstore. Seb makes a living taking the books people don't want anymore and turning them into something new. One afternoon, Martin (the bookstore's newest employee and Seb's love interest) finds an illustrated copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in the store and gives it to Seb who, in turn, makes it into something special—a birthday gift for his grandmother.

Two weeks ago, my Nana couldn't get out of bed. She's 86 and still living on her own. They called the ambulance, took her to the hospital, ran tests.

A week ago, I passed a used bookstore. It wasn't in my neighbourhood. I'd never been inside it. But there, in the window, was an illustrated copy of Alice's Adventure in Wonderland. I was on my way to an appointment, and by the time I walked back the other way, the store was closed. But I knew I needed that book. For Seb. For his Nana. For mine too, because she loved to read and loved the old stories best. I went back and bought it yesterday.

Today, we said goodbye to my Nana.

Her favourite books were Seven Years in Tibet and the complete collection of Churchill's Letters to Roosevelt. She raised five daughters, had eleven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She made the best pea soup in the world and she gave even better hugs. She never finished high school, but left her home on Vancouver Island to move with my grandfather to Montreal in 1953. She lived in Morocco and the Cameroons. In 1988, she helped me publish my first book*

Seb's story is unpublished, but it's going to be, someday. When it is, there will be two words in the dedication.

For Nana.

Miss you bunches already.

*the first story had what you might call a limited distribution deal. It might still be available to be borrowed from my elementary school library though.