December was a month that started out hectic and only became more frenzied as the days wore on. Our flight left on the 20th and as the date approached, it was starting to look like I wouldn’t get everything crossed off my “to do” list before boarding. For the most part I didn’t mind but one item that stung was my annual Christmas Cryptic, a personalized puzzle I build for my family every year.
Ostensibly, the Christmas cryptic is my gift to the family. Really, it’s a gift that the family gives to me. I savour their coos of excitement as my parents, sister and husband first glimpse the grid. I smile ear to ear as they retreat to the armchairs and couches with mugs of coffee, ballpoint pens, and the puzzle. “Which one are you working on now?” I pester excitedly. “Have you got 12 Across yet?”
Like many families, we have long-standing Christmas traditions: watching White Christmas, felling a (typically very scrawny) tree from our own property, tackling Fraser Simpson's full-page regular crossword puzzle, and leaving out Christmas cake and sherry on the 24th. We have newer ones, too. My husband introduced us to the tradition of listening to The Shepherd on CBC Radio, which we now all do in rapt silence. My brother-in-law (and his culinarily skilled mother) introduced us to feasting on bacalhau on Christmas Eve.
And then, there's the very new tradition of the cryptic crossword.
I'm a writer, explorer, amateur setter of cryptic crosswords, and new mom.