Our Christmas traditions are a mix of Laurent's French-Canadian heritage, my English-Canadian background and a few things we've taken from places we've lived or people we've known. Laurent had never heard of Christmas Crackers before our first Christmas Dinner in 1979 but they had always been part of our family Christmas. And their decorative place on the table, the sound of the crack, the useless trinkets, silly hats and sillier jokes preface any Christmas dinner at our house.
But to me Christmas Cracker had another meaning after 1978 - it was the name of the yearly missive from my much-loved Ryan. I wrote about Ryan when he left us in October of last year and all that I wrote then holds true today. His Holiday letter was like no other. It wasn't the endless list of little Tiffany's accomplishments as a budding ballerina/equestrian star/girl scout/Rhodes scholar or stories of Aunt Betty's mysterious sex-change operation - it was funny, it was irreverent, it was touchng but never sentimental (God how he hated sentimentality) and it was Ryan.
The Cracker didn't always arrive in time for Christmas - sometimes it was late January before it showed up in the post but Ryan was a busy lecturer, teacher, author and columnist and you knew it would be there at some point. When it did arrive you could be sure it would be filled with goodies: Snippets from The Times of London Obituaries, passages from books read that year, anecdotes from a trip here or there, quotes from favorite authors, comments on CDs heard that year - things that said nothing of his accomplishments (which were many) for the year but much about his experiences. Stupidly I didn't keep all my Crackers but I do have and treasure the last one he sent out in 2005.
Though we will have the traditional crackers on our table again this year, I miss the one that arrived every year in the mail. But not as much as I miss the person that sent them.
19 decembre - Santa Fausta