we were dancing.

Posey and i, on our first day to ourselves in more than a week, both of us slightly flu-impaired and grumpy but mercifully alone, the house ours, our day free from doctor’s appointments and toddlers and other civil company. she’d been kvetching in her swing, so i picked her up, grabbed the ancient cassette tape Oscar had unearthed from god knows where at breakfast time, thanked fortune that we still possess an equally ancient stereo, and plunked the sucker in. and there we were, sliding across the hardwood of the den, her a whimpering ball in my arms, me a grimly determined picture of festive joy. i was inaugurating my infant into tradition and holiday cheer; Paul Revere riding the dark days of Canadian November, shouting the holidays are coming! the holidays are coming!

we were dancing to the Boney M Christmas classic Feliz Navidad.

i’m not entirely sure how Boney M became a Christmas classic for the rest of the world…i guess catchy kitsch goes a long way for a post-sincerity generation that prefers traditions leavened with irony. but for me, personally, Feliz Navidad became a centrepiece of all that is warm and fuzzy and delightful about the holidays the very first time i ever heard my college roommate sing it aloud.

her name was Andrea.  she had a decent voice…good pitch, clear tone.  her voice carried above the rest of us.  and somewhere in the middle of an impromptu drunken exam-time singalong, we all trailed off and cocked our heads, eyebrows raised.  because Andrea wasn’t singing Feliz Navidad as she bounced earnestly in time to the marimbas.  Andrea was singing at least no one died.

i don’t claim to speak Spanish, but i knew that was a pretty Eeyore-esque take on the spirit of the season, however accidental.  and i loved it.

sometimes i’m a bit of a Grinch when it comes to the holidays.  i don’t like the commercialism and the pressure to spend, i’m not religious, i find putting up the tree a daunting chore.  and yet, there’s something about the darkness and the snow and the lights and the forced family time – tense though it often is – that i value, that i hearken to.  even at eighteen, i got that “at least no one died…i wanna wish you a Merry Christmas!” was the ultimate in frank and honest Christmas caroling.  so in the years when we are lucky enough to gather without new faces missing from the tables – because with three sets of grandparents and four separate belief traditions in our immediate families there’s always more than one table for us at the holidays – i sing me some Boney M and grin and bear it all, with the help of the seasonal chocolate boxes.

that’s what i was reminding myself of yesterday, holding this longed-for daughter, safely here despite colic, despite a rough run with all of us sick and tired.   a year ago, had i been able to look ahead and see us, the four of us, with our extended family still well and present in our lives, i would’ve thought, how lucky.

i had just soared into full vocal flight when the elderly creaky tape gave up the ghost.  it died, in the middle of At Least No One Died.   the voices slowed alarmingly, and deepened, the old sound of stretching plastic strangely familiar and yet from another world, a lost time.  then it snapped.

i was crestfallen.  we were dancing.  i was cheering myself up.  i was introducing my daughter to one of the primary Christmas carols.  i was being resilient, dammit, after a rotten couple of weeks.  and then my heirloom tape…gone to Jesus.  cruel, cruel world.

i tweeted my sorrow, noting that the holidays were now ruined before they even began.  Josephine and i trudged upstairs, and i moped about, whistling lamentations that sounded like Boney M, the Funeral Version.  she fed, and was just gearing up for one of her wailing sessions when i thought i heard footsteps on the stairs.  Dave.

he had read my tweet, left work, run to the record store and purchased me a fine new CD version of Boney M Christmas, replete with disco cover art and snowflakes.  then driven it home, all with twenty-five minutes flat.  no gift of the Magi was ever so kind, so thoughtful…especially when you consider that he’s now doomed himself to a steady diet of Boney M over the next four weeks.

i think i already got all i wanted for Christmas, this year.