Monday, December 29, 2014

Another Christmas Has Come and Gone

The days following my return from hot and sunny Barbados to cold and snowy Canada weren't as bad I thought they would be. Years ago, there would already be snow on the ground and temperatures would be dipping below zero. The last few years, this year included, December temperatures are more like October and November temperatures, hovering just above zero with no snow to be seen. In fact, the temperature rose to a very warm and unseasonal 13 degrees on Christmas Day and it rained.

I love Christmas but the last few Christmases have not really felt like least not like the Christmases I experienced as a child. For one, I always remember having white Christmases growing up. My sisters and I would help dad build snow forts in the backyard during Christmas break and these were not just little holes in tiny snowbanks; these forts were intricate tunnels that we could stand up in and bring plastic furniture into. You need A LOT of snow to build a fort like that.

Obviously with my mom passed away and my sisters both living out west, along with most of my friends and extended family, Christmas is certainly a lot quieter than it once was. Growing up in the big house, there would be the five of us, both sets of grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends and neighbors piled in on any given day between the 23rd of December and New Years. At times, there would be more than twenty people. The adults would sit around the dining room table playing cards or gossiping and us kids would bein the living room watching holiday classics and pigging out on chips and candy. The best thing about Christmas now? Going back and reminiscing about the good ol' days. I feel so fortunate to have those memories - memories that, when recalled, have me remembering the people who were around and the events that transpired with loved ones, not the presents that were under the tree. It sounds cliche but Christmas HAS become way to commercialized. I suspect that many children today only focus on the mass amounts of material items they receive. And the material items that they get today are more geared towards keeping them inside on the couch being zombies. When I was a child, it was a new bike, a pair skates or a year pass to the ski hill that awaited me under the tree. No cell phones, laptops or video game consoles. Interactive items made to keep kids active and engaged!
Despite the lack of Christmas spirit that I've experienced the last couple of years, it has been a good few weeks. In the days following my trip, I cleaned out my room and parted ways with many items that I no longer have a use for and donated them to local charities. I finished some last minute Christmas shopping for my closest family and friends and put up a few decorations around the house. I long ago decided that I will no longer be sending cards out to every acquaintance I've met since grade school; not only is it a waste of time but its a waste of paper and the cards only get thrown out after they are read anyway! Although I told everyone there was nothing I needed or wanted for Christmas, my father still insisted on getting me something and threatened to pick it out himself if I didn't tell him what I wanted! Truthfully, there really wasn't anything I needed or wanted! The only thing I came up with was a new pair of skates. I often said I would like to take up my childhood passion again so a few days before Christmas, my father and I found ourselves at the local Canadian Tire store where I picked out a new pair of skates. I even had the opportunity to try them out on Saturday and get back on the ice after many years. I was a bit rusty on blades but I did manage to skate without holding onto the boards and didn't fall once. Now that I have no excuses, I will skating a lot more. Adult skating takes place at the local rink on Wednesdays and Fridays so that is where I will be on those afternoons!

Christmas Eve turned out quite well. I went about my usual daily tasks consisting of checking emails, walking a couple of miles at the track and doing my usual daily chores. The only difference with that day from any other day was I made sure to complete my daily tasks a little earlier than usual so I could relax and spend the rest of the day with family and friends. Turkey dinner was held at a friend's house this year. The dinner was absolutely delicious but what made it so special was the fact that there were young children there and watching them open their presents and squealing with delight at their new toys was so much fun! Toward the end of the night, caffeine withdrawal symptoms started to kick in with the coffee drinkers, me included. We came up with an excuse to persuade dad to take us for a drive so we could get coffee. We disguised the coffee run with a plea to drive to Glace Bay to see the house that was on the news earlier because it had Christmas lights all over it that blinked and "danced" to a soundtrack that was accessed on the radio dial in the car. This seemed to intrigue dad and we piled in the car in search of that house and grabbed our coffees along the way at the only gas station that we could find that was still open.

Christmas Day also went well except for the very disgusting weather that saw Cape Breton drenched in rain. I awoke, got ready and drove to dad's where I had a hearty breakfast before we exchanged gifts. The rest of the day was spent visiting and exchanging gifts with other close friends and family members followed by an evening in front of the TV watching an old family favorite, "A Christmas Story".

So, all in all, it's been a good holiday season so far. Hopefully New Years Eve will be good too!

Best wishes to all my readers and followers in 2015. May it be the best one yet :)

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