COMMENTARY – ‘Jonesing’ for the Christmas comforts

by Katrina Owens

As many community members already know, I relocated to Slave Lake more than two months ago because I was given the opportunity to work as a reporter here at The Leader.
I’m enjoying my new-role and I’ve gathered, from talk around town, that I’ve had to fill some rather large shoes. Over the past few weeks I’ve become more settled here in my new home, and I couldn’t be more pleased with my work. I can say confidentially this has been a wonderful endeavor and I’m so excited for what’s to come in the New Year.
However, I’m a southern Ontario girl and I’m still finding myself adjusting to life up here in northern Alberta. Lately I catch myself jonesing for the Christmas comforts of home, my moms baking, my mother-in-laws lasagna, and my sister’s stress-filled demeanor on Christmas morning when our family shows up. I don’t think I’ve ever missed those holiday hidden-gems as much as I do now. It’s odd to think I won’t be around my family this year, and it’s gotten me thinking about what Christmas really means.
Similar to most families, Christmas is a big deal in the Owens clan – baking, parties, presents and lists, yes we do love to make lists of everything we need to buy or do in preparation of the big day. What I’ve realized from being away from all the chaos that comes in anticipation of Christmas morning is that presents really don’t matter, baking really doesn’t make-or-break the holidays and parties are overrated (however, I still could easily channel my inner Garfield and eat a few helpings of lasagna).
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good sugar-cookie, and even though I consider myself somewhat of an introvert I enjoy being surrounded by my loved ones, who sometimes tend to indulge in the spiked egg-nog more than what I would prefer. I think the point I’m trying to make, without rambling too much, is that I miss my family – and it’s taken me moving 4,700 km to realize that it’s their presence, not their presents, that I would prefer during the holidays.
Getting caught up in the haze of Christmas time seems to be the norm for some, but I caution you to seek clarity this year. Be thankful you are spending time with your family and don’t take the small hidden-gems for granted, because there could be a time when you have no choice but to be without them.
Take it from me – spend your time wisely this year by talking instead of texting, surround yourself with loved ones and laugh with them, say thank-you, and when you’re around your family, look around and realize you’re lucky because not all of us can have the same. I want to make it clear that I don’t think giving presents to your loved ones is wrong in any way. Seeing the happiness on someone’s face when they see their gift can be one of the best feelings in the world.
However, I do believe that Christmas and the holidays shouldn’t solely surround gift giving. Many might colour me with the same shade as Starbucks for saying that, and I think that stems from the messages the retail-sector sends out this time of year. Going bananas with gifts just isn’t worth the financial turmoil that may follow, especially when Valentine’s Day is right around the corner.

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