2015 will officially be the second Christmas I’ve spent away from my family in 33 years. Not bad for a person who spends most of their time away from the country they call home. The first time was in 2009 when I was travelling with the Olympic Flame around Canada and Christmas fell smack bang in the middle of the 106-day event. We were in London, Ontario, and I remember Skyping with my family on Christmas Eve, which was already their Christmas. They’d set up a laptop on the coffee table, dressed the screen in one of my hoodies, and used gloves to mimic my hands. One appropriately wrapped around a bottle of beer, and the other holding my cactus Michael. It certainly helped alleviate the sting of not being there, and I’m hoping they come up with a similar substitute this year.
(Side note on Michael the cactus… I bought him when I graduated high school in 2000, took him to university, and then left him in the care of my sister where he’s remained ever since. I called him Michael because it seemed like the most unlikely name to call a cactus.)
My current reason for not going home is certainly not as exotic as a 45,000km journey across 13 provinces and territories with the Flame that would open the Winter Olympics in 2010! I’m simply staying put this year because of my residency obligations. It’s a long arduous story, which I’m frankly happy to spare you of, so unlike 2009, this year I’ll be sitting with my feet up in Vancouver alongside my magical friend Jill and her husband, reflecting on another wonderful year that was.
I had thought to let Christmas come and go with little fuss, feeling a little ‘meh’ about the whole thing. But it’s one of those days and seasons that’s impossible to ignore, unless you live in an underground cave in Siberia, and even then sleigh bells are likely to be heard jingling across the tundra. I’ve got nothing against celebrating Christmas; in fact I thoroughly enjoy it, mainly because it gives people a reason to be nice to one another, and an excuse to drink beer before midday!
I am a little over the whole present thing though, but I do appreciate gestures of kindness, spontaneous get togethers, communal tree decorating sessions and home baked cookies. There’s an undeniable spirit of giving in the air, plus a sense of relief that the year’s almost over, soon to be archived, so we can start afresh and sweep all the cobwebs from 2015 out the door.
My housemate Allison insisted myself and my other housemate Chelsea decorate the Christmas tree together, and was shocked by my admission that it was the first time I’ve done so in over ten years. She also couldn’t believe it’s the first year I’ve owned my own advent calendar, which is probably why she suspects I’ve either been living in some kind of dark hovel or am running from the law as she so eloquently put it. Hmmm… I should probably try spending more time outside of my room. Perhaps I am starting to behave like a cave animal.
It’s been a busy month though. I’ve been on a navigational field course with work up in the snow on Mount Seymour, I took a sailing course on English Bay, I’ve been contracted as a virtual consultant for the festival I usually work on in Abu Dhabi, and I’m writing and working as much as possible. Not bad for this half-completed rainy month of December!
After my last post a few of my closest friends reached out to me with concern. Did I really sound that depressed? One of them even sat me down with my blog open on his screen, eager to talk through specific lines in my commentary. I wasn’t really sure how to react. I don’t think people realise there’s a sad side to me, because when I’m around other people, I’m one of the most exuberant and positive people in the room. That’s because I feed off their energy, so much so I can sometimes become intoxicated by it, hyperactive, high on company until I’m alone again and I crash with exhaustion.
I definitely enjoy being on my own. A lot more than most people I know. I can be a hyperactive, positive lunatic in my own company too. It’s just that when I fail to see that blue sky behind the clouds, sometimes it takes another person to drag me out of the shadows. It happens to all of us, and I think it’s important to express the lows as well as the highs. Life is a constant roller coaster after all, and we all just gotta keep riding it.