The countdown to Christmas

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.)

I have no idea how I managed to dig up this photo. The world of technology… huh!

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.

Allison and Chelsea decorating the tree

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.

The way to spruce up any tree, put a bird on it!

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!

Sailing with work colleagues on English Bay, Vancouver

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.

Allison’s homemade Christmas card from ‘the Special’, our home

13 thoughts on “The countdown to Christmas”

  1. Christmas to me is a snow walk at night to a warm church filled with music, candles, singers and the joy of why we are all there. It is the hope in all the dark places becoming light and the beauty of souls rejoicing in a loving good God. Tender sweet souls filled with love and hope. Go and find this place and you will have Christmas.

      1. I grew up with that and still it causes me to weep to think about it. Christmas is more than magical it is Holy! I wish I could give this to you wrapped up to open slowly. We rush Christmas. Christmas either depress us or feeds us through the next year. May you find this gift in the beauty around you and the love shining through your eyes in those you meet. Merry Christmas to you also.

      2. Linda I was thinking about your description of Christmas this afternoon after I loaded up a backpack full of treats for my friends and walked home under the dry grey skies of the cemetery in a state of bliss. This Christmas is moving slowly for me and I’m enjoying every second. Each carol I hear, the smiles on children’s faces, the lights, the laughter, the spirit of life! It is a holy time indeed even if we don’t go to church. If you can avoid the hustle and bustle of strip malls and holiday traffic, there’s tranquility in the air!

  2. Firstly I would like to congratulate Jill and her Hubby for being gifted with your PRESENCE on Christmas this year…How lucky are they !?!

    I wish I could find a (the) Muk Muk under my tree.
    🎄
    Maybe next year
    Hint hint hint
    😇

    Now for The Special…I must have missed the story and the meaning behind the groups name. Anyone care to fill me in ? Still, it looks like a good time was had by all on tree decorating day. Nothing works better than a Santa hat and a good Christmas sweater to get you in the mood. Ok, maybe a cold beer or some egg nog never hurts either
    🍺

    As we make our way through this last week before the big day…
    I want to wish each and everyone of you, all the love and joy this season stands for. Like you said, it’s not the gifts that matter. It is the heart, so full of cheer, that it bubbles out to those around us .

    May you each be blessed with your own Christmas Miracle.
    And may we each find a way to “BE THE CHEER” for someone who needs it.

    Till next time,
    From Alaska
    Lyndella

    1. Thank you Lyndella for your beautiful Christmas words and wishes! A Vancouver Special according to Wikipedia is a term used to refer to houses built with a characteristically box-like structure, low-pitched roofs and a balcony across the front during the period from roughly 1965-1985. Our house is one of these hence out card is from ‘The Special’. I’m sure you guys will be enjoying a white Christmas up there and I hope you and the family and little Luna have a magical day!! Muk Muk

  3. FMerry Christmas to you, Rozanne…..I know you will be surrounded with your friends….I really should say that I wish that you to be surrounded by the ones who love you….My Christmas present to you is love….and may love surround you….From your old friend, Barbie

    1. Sending you lots of love in return Barbie and thanks for all your wise words and the bouts of inspiration you’ve sent me throughout this year!! I hope you have a wonderful day with loved ones and family too!! 🙂

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