It’s not a Christmas Eve tradition unless the police get involved... right?
No, we didn’t put on ski masks and rob convenience stores at gunpoint. Instead, we blatantly committed a myriad of safety violations and Dad narrowly avoided getting a ticket from a "not so friendly, obviously was getting coal in his stocking, upset that he was working on Christmas Eve" RCMP officer.
Let me explain.
It was the late 1980s and someone (I think it was me) came up with the great (open to interpretation) idea to load up the large utility trailer with hay bales, hook it to Dad’s pickup, bundle up the little kids, fill our flasks with Bailey’s and hot chocolate, commission one of the small generators so that we could play Christmas music loud enough for the neighbours to hear, and pull that darn trailer around the community until the kids fell asleep.
It solved a few problems:
It tired out the Littles
We got out of the house
The entire family could participate
It made a lasting memory
The day of that first Christmas Eve, Dad took it upon himself to decorate the sides of the trailer with greenery. It looked so festive!
After Christmas Eve dinner, we brewed our special grown-up-only coffee, located the Christmas mixtapes, bundled up the kids, and all piled into the trailer – we were ready to spread Christmas cheer!
Round and round the subdivisions we went. The music was loud, the singing was louder and the kids had such a great time! We would stop in front of houses where we knew the occupants and crank the tunes – invariably, they would pop their head out the front door and we would yell, “Merry Christmas!” and they would respond, “Merry Christmas!” or maybe they said, “Keep it down! The kids are sleeping!” The generator was loud – so who really knows.
After about an hour, the children were exhausted and some of us on the trailer were tipsy, but all could agree that the experience was a success! Let’s do it again next year!
We did it for a few consecutive Christmas Eves. Dad eventually added Christmas lights to the trailer; heavy blankets to keep us warm and even put some decorations on his pickup. When life hands you a parade float – make your own parade!
Until the fourth Christmas Eve rolled around. We were at the end of our route and ready to head home when suddenly the sky lit up with flashing blue and red lights. No… it wasn’t Santa Claus. It was the RCMP.
Dad slowly worked his way over to the side of the street, unrolled his window and yelled back to us, “Let me do the talking!” He then located all of the typical paperwork that one would be asked for after being pulled over by the RCMP and waited for the inevitable.
The RCMP member (who we will call Mr. Grumpy), alighted from his car and made the slow walk alongside the trailer, taking in the little red faces of the kids, the hay bales, our ‘coffee’ cups, the generator and the music.
In my heart I knew that our annual Christmas Eve soiree was coming to an end. Of course, we knew that it wasn’t safe to drive around with kids and family in the back of the trailer, but we had seen RCMP members in the past and they had turned a blind eye. It was a simple exchange of looks and a nod as if to say, “Did you see anything? Nope, I didn’t see anything.”
Not so with Mr. Grumpy. As he finished his conversation with Dad, he made his way back to his unit without so much as a “Merry Christmas,” or even a “Sorry folks.” Dad came around to the back and said, “The ride is over – we are heading home.”
And just like that – our Christmas Eve tradition ended on a decidedly sour note – never to happen again.
Oh well… The tradition may have ended, but the memory remains – singing loud enough to be heard over the little generator, getting poked in the arse by the hay bales, toes freezing but hearts warm.
Judy Kucharuk lives and writes in Dawson Creek.