Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas Blues

[John says] This will be the first Christmas in my entire 54-year life that I have not spent with my mother--and brother. And the first Christmas in the lives of my sons, Matt, Tom and Pete, that I will not been with them, either. In principle I profess to be okay with this. My sons are at that age when they are separating from their birth family and forging their own identities and lives as adult individuals, so in some ways it's probably good that we be apart for a while. In the case of my mother, though, well, there's no excuse for not being with her for Christmas, is there. But she's supportive of us being up here, and makes the strong argument that it would make absolutely no economic sense to come back south so soon after getting here. The return flight alone from Iqaluit to Ottawa is about $1,700, which is kind of ridiculous when you compare it to prices for other flights.

All well and good, but I find myself getting weepy over all those sentimental Christmas movies that show up on TV at this time of year. Tonight it was "It's A Wonderful Life," which really is a delightful film. When Jimmy Stewart came running back into the house and into the arms of his children after his encounter with Clarence the Christmas angel convinced him he did want to live, well I started blubbering like a baby.

And last week, which admittedly was harder because Lorraine was away in Vancouver, I actually burst into tears watching Ernest Saves Christmas. I mean, ERNEST SAVES CHRISTMAS, for heaven's sake--an absolutely goofy (but goodhearted) comedy. The thing is, it was one of my sons' favourite Christmas movies for a stretch of years when they were kids, and we watched it together many, many times. So all those memories came flooding back.

Oh well, someone once told me we should all cry at least once a day, to release stress, to get rid of toxins in the body, and to wash out our eyes. So there's a start for me. (Reminds me of that chorus from the country and western song by I don't remember who: "Every night I sleep just like a baby. I wake up every hour and cry."

Some of this feeling, I imagine, is also empathy with a new and very fine friend up here who, two weekends ago, lost both her husband and father within days of one another. That's brutal. Definitely makes you think about mortality, and the importance of living and appreciating each day to the full.

On the upside, we're settling nicely into our apartment, and it already feels like home to me. And we're finding out just how conveniently situated it is. A maximum of ten minutes walk to anywhere, from skiing, to shopping, post office, library, church, restaurants, Lorraine's work. Maybe 15 minutes to the hospital, although you could probably do it in 12.

And I've been out skiing eight times already too (although I have friends in southern Ontario who tell me they've already surpassed that this year. It's snowy down there, I guess). When I get up on the ridge northwest of town, looking down on the airport and over the bay, the view is wonderful. The wind can be brutally cold on your face though and the worst is yet to come. My biggest problem, though, is sweating too much (no surprise to those who know me). If I'm out for much more than an hour, I start getting chilled from dampness. That would be a real problem on a multi-day expedition (or even an all-day expedition, for that matter).

We're only a week away from the shortest day of the year, however, and then, thank goodness, it will start getting lighter. And then, well you know, summer's just a matter of months away.

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