For all my fussing about having no Christmas spirit this year and even though I got sick the very day after I said to my friend, "I haven't been sick all year!" without even knocking on wood or participating in any other superstitious ritual, I had a lovely holiday. I spent Saturday wrapped in blankets sniffling and reading. I'm sure it sped my recovery. I haven't had much time to ready lately and it felt great to just hang out with some books instead of worrying about undone chores. Honestly, I didn't even wrap my gifts until Christmas morning. I gave up on Sons and Lovers (sorry D.H., too boring even for a classic). I blew through The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing (which I liked) and I began All Families are Psychotic (it's ok).
We got our Wii for Christmas. Sort of. We apparently had a "connection" in a Glenolden area gamestore and he was kind enough to put one away for us. Thanks my mother-in-law's co-worker's daughter's boyfriend!!! What a rock star you are! It was a huge relief to call off that quest. While it's a drag that we won't be in possession of the Wii until mid-January, I have to admit it's a distraction we really don't need right now when we need to be packing.
I did not do any holiday baking. I planned to do it on Boxing Day but I didn't think anyone would really appreciate cookies that had had a lung hacked up all over them. I guess it will be New Year's baking instead.
I did, however, start packing in earnest on Boxing Day. I packed up much of the kitchen and most of our CDs though I left a stack that's in heavy rotation in it's place near the stereo. It doesn't sound like much but the boxes are piling up. I would have done more except I ran out of boxes.
This turned out to be one of my favourite Christmases ever. We didn't try to please everybody. We went to one Christmas dinner. One. We didn't stop in anywhere on our way up north. I know that the not stopping and the not-attending the second dinner didn't go over well, but it made Christmas so much saner for us. I received some lovely presents. Some highlights: a food processor from my folks that I'm so excited about (I had been borrowing my mom's for years to make tapenade and hummus), a pretty pink handknit toque and mitten set from my uncle (the hat has fluffly pom-poms that hang from longish strings which is absolutely perfect because for some reason I love crap hanging off my winter hats) and from my grandma ... Twister! Yay! I think even more special than the presents was getting to talk to people I don't usually get to talk to because there are too many of us. Christmas Day seemed pretty perfect, I think due in no small part to the fact that everyone could actually hear what we were saying to each other. Even Chloe was a perfect little princess and didn't even beg during dinner.
I offered up a New Year's brunch to the family we missed on our drive and I'm a little disappointed in the eye-for-an-eye approach they've taken - but you know what? That's fine. I can pack up all those servers I kept out. We'll still have my parents over and probably the girls. We'll still have full bellies and it will still be a great start to our year. We took the approach that was right for us this year and it kinda hurts that people didn't like it but it's not gonna change the fact that it really was the right approach. It was even better than I could have hoped for.
Growing up in a small community one of the most important times of the year is the Fall Fair. Every year as it approached my Mom would come up with virtually hundreds of crafty ideas for both her and myself to enter into competition and we would craft our little fingers off for months leading up to it. Walking in the fair parade was always of the utmost importance as well and my costumes were a team effort for my parents.
One year, it was decided that I would dress up as Santa Claus for the parade. The key component of the costume was to be a decorated tree surrounded by presents that I would pull behind me in my wagon. Well. When my parents presented me with this idea I was fit to be tied. "You're going to kill a tree for my parade costume???" I thought the Santa outfit was fantastic but I wanted no part in cutting down a tree. Incidentally, I still feel pretty strongly about trees.
Not ones to have an 8 year old blow their awesome idea, my Dad came up with an alternate plan. Out we trudged into the forest behind my grandparent's house to find a good tree. Then my Dad dug it up. What you can't really see in these photos, due to its camouflage of presents, is a huge barrel containing the tree's root ball and a lot of soil. Let me tell you something: That wagon was really heavy. But I pulled that sumbitch the whole way and, I think, with a minimum amount of complaining even though I was really, really hot in that Santa costume. After all, dude, I was saving a tree! Although, I have to confess, there are other photos that show my Mom and Dad trading off pushing the wagon from behind when I started lagging behind the rest of the parade. Team effort.
We won the best costume prize for my age group that year and after the parade my Grandfather planted the little spruce tree in his yard. The tree became known as "Leslie's Tree" and it was a rare occasion indeed if we passed by it and nobody said, "Look at how your tree has grown up!" or something else to that effect. The tree stood for twenty-some years there and from it's early days as the scruffy little parade tree it became one of those beautiful, tall - majestic even - Northern Ontario spruce trees. My uncle recently cut the tree down, while he was clearing the property of several other nuisance trees. The nuisance trees were ruining the septic tank, so I know, he had a good reason but still, it makes me really sad. I guess I really love trees - and me and that tree go waaaaay back. I'm not the only one who feels sad about it though. Without fail, passing by the spot where the tree once stood, my Dad will say, "He could have left that one." He'll say it later today, when Kevin and I join the rest of my family up north.
When I was looking through photo albums at my parent's place the other day for these pictures I asked my Mom why they ever went along with me about the tree when it would have been so much easier to cut it down for my wagon. My Mom said, "You're our little girl."
That just seems to sum it all up. The parade, Christmas and life in general. We do it all for the ones we love.
Merry Christmas everyone! Have a safe and happy holiday. XOXO
You too, Wes, if you're reading this.
I'm sure your card will arrive in the New Year (I am so awesome).
*Edited to add: I think it is so funny that posting this on my blog got me addresses quicker than the emails I sent. You guys are rockstars. =)
How do I say this? I am really sick of all this Christmas madness. I don't want any more people to ask me what I want. I don't want to ask anymore people what they want. I don't want to buy any frigging gifts at all. Why not spend some time with each other? I am so over all this fucking commercial bullshit!
Next year, everyone is getting homemade presents, and if they don't like it, they can go suck on a piece of coal.
Says the girl who is having a meltdown trying to finish the measly four homemade presents she took on this year.
I can only imagine how this is going to go over with a few people. Probably something like that time I said if I had a child, no way in hell would that child's room would be decorated with anything Disney (or your choice of other TV and/or movie) related characters. Insert cartoon-y BOING! eyes here.
Once a year around this time I have to give a speech on The Role of the Legal Secretary in [The Firm's] Environmental Practice to the co-op students who have been selected to join us in the new year. I was bestowed the honour because the year they started this initiative my co-worker Jenn was on maternity leave. I've been stuck with it ever since. Thanks a lot Jenn!
The first year I had to do it I was terrified. I used to be swell at speeches when I was in grade school. I'm sure my mom has some ribbons and shit to prove it. Then I moved around to different schools a bit and I got the Fear after having to make all new friends in grade 8, 9, 10 and 11! I avoided speeches in university. So the first year my supervisor asked me so nicely to give the speech I wanted to kill myself, but obviously I agreed because I am a big pushover and also there was nobody else in my department to do it.
I actually look forward to giving the speech now. The students are always so bright-eyed and happy to be working in such a big firm. Law is still so very exciting to them. They are not yet jaded by the hierarchy and their place in it or bogged down in the mundane details that come between the bits of the day that truly are exciting. Giving the speech year after year has fixed my confidence.
The free lunch and movie coupons they bribe me with are pretty good too.
I actually gave a shit about my clothes today and now my co-workers think I have an interview. What's more depressing?
a) the fact that I must obviously look like a real bag of crap most days, or
b) the fact that I do not have an interview
I watched an episode of Relocation, Relocation last night while suffering an attack of insomnia. The couple was selling their London flat to start a new life in Arrachor, near Glasgow, Scotland. The house they bought was terribly cute, with several outbuildings, one of which they planned to use for the husband's ceramics workshop and another they intended to live in during the peak tourist season when they could rent out the main house for 1,000 pounds a week. Pretty romantic.
I guess it was kind of timely that I happened to be watching this program, because there were a lot of similarities between this couple and us. They were about our age, and, like us, their friends thought they were insane for buying where they did. They talked about what might happen if it didn't work out, how they wouldn't be able to return to the big city because they'd never be able to afford it after living in a much cheaper location. We've had that conversation. It's a bit of a stretch to imagine you're a kindred spirit with someone on television, but I was so touched when the woman said it didn't bother her that she would never live in London again because it didn't feel like her home anymore. What bothered her was saying goodbye to her friends. That is what bothers me more too.
I didn't always live in Toronto. I had lots of friends before I came here and there is really only one I keep in touch with, if you can even call it that. You can't because it's our mothers who keep in touch and our mothers who give us up-to-date information about each other. I suppose though, that those old friendships were lost in the days before email was invented and too, it was absolute culture shock moving here from northern Ontario, so maybe things will work out better this go-around. I guess things are naturally somewhat different when you're 30 as opposed to 15.
But anyway, let's talk about something else before I start bawling or something, capiche?
You remember my couch? I think it's time to bust out the sewing machine I received on my last birthday and make a slipcover for it. I was going to have it reupholstered but as it turns out I'm way too lazy to nail down the details to make that happen. And anyway, this is cheaper. But more likely to result in me harbouring homicidal feelings toward the sewing machine and/or whoever happens to be around.
Here we have Simplicity #5127, "Modern Slipcovers with Pillows" which looks nice and also difficult and frustrating. Did I mention I have not sewn anything in over ten years and I'm not quite sure know how to even wind the bobbin on my machine?
I'd also like to make these blinds (the ones on top) but in cuter fabrics. Hmm, I'm becoming exhausted just thinking about all this hard work. Maybe my mom will "help" me if I ask nicely? Oh right, I bet that the gift of the sewing machine is probably a good indicator of where my Mom stands on that point ...