Waking Up In Canada

Time Out Just To See

And peace to all people, all people on earth December 25, 2011

Filed under: Christmas — wakingupincanada @ 1:53 pm
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The child is born and hope wins over darkness, joy triumphs over despair and across the world for even just one day, we believe in something better, for ourselves, for our world.

I have spoken to my family to the point they have nothing left to say to me. I sit with my housemates and our adopted brother and parents, my Christmas pyjamas on at 2 in the afternoon. I will dress for dinner.

There is no denying the hard moments haunting many hearts in the past 24 hours in Banff. Perhaps those most homesick were those who didn’t expect it and there it was, as Christmas Eve turned to Christmas Day, that sinking feeling that they were far from where their soul felt they should be.

What is heart-warming as well as a little heart-breaking is the strong realisation  that it is not about place, but people. When people tell about their Christmas customs, there is no mention of the size of the fire place or the view of the beach. Nobody has discussed the quality or quantity of gifts. They talk about who makes breakfast and who they spend lunch with. They talk sadly about estranged family and excitedly about the kids. They recall their parents, their grandparents, their cousins, second cousins, cousins who are not actually related. They talk about the food they eat and how their mother cooks it best.

This is what Christmas boils down to, whether or not you go to church or not. The decoration is just like that on the Christmas Cake, it looks good but lies at the side of the plate as we savour the rich fruit cake. We stop. We enjoy. Together.

Happy Christmas folks.



Christmas Eve Eve December 23, 2011

Filed under: family — wakingupincanada @ 1:17 pm
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My parents’ home is full.

They are all at home now, and my sister-in-law and 2 nieces were also visiting when I spoke to them all. Sometimes the kids wanted to speak to me, sometimes they had other things to do.

I may not be there but I feel the love and happiness of that family feeling, the feeling of re-connecting, enjoying each other. When I take off my rose tinted glasses, I know things can get manic and loud and busy, and yet, even with it, it is that feeling of “we are family”. I will argue with you, shove you, drive you insane, but it is ok, we’ve got blood in common.

As I looked on, things were just the same, the way my sisters each have their own way, their own posture, tone, jokes, habits, way with the kids. The kids are growing and jumping and singing, becoming more of that person that they are. My parents were as they always were, my Dad talking breifly, my Mum talking about the little things and making sure I was warm. I thought I would find this hard, them gathering together while I watched on from a distance. Not so. I could feel the love, the fun, the madness of Family at Christmas. I am part of it, even if I am not there right now.

I remember a poem I studied in Irish class about the ties that bind, to a community, to family. I don’t know if I even understood the words but the sentiment seemed to be that of binding, tying down, holding back. I wonder what went wrong for him. I am in a different country, 7 hours ahead and I feel those binds holding me steady. When my family are all together, I feel them a little more snuggly, a warm hug on a cold day.

I say a prayer we will always have this.


Preparing for Christmas November 25, 2011

Filed under: Christmas,Travel — wakingupincanada @ 8:31 am
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There is a beautiful ad in Ireland for An Post, the postal service: “The moment you send a card, it’s Christmas”.

Christmas is my favourite time of year. There is a slowing of pace and warming of spirit. Perhaps its the collective spirit of preparing for one big event, a feeling of togetherness. I love the mulled wine, the long days Christmas shopping to find the right gift, walking around toy shops just to see, to remember, to believe. I love the ads; the Coca-Cola ad, the Guinness ad, the Cornflakes ad, the Budweiser ad, the Penney’s ad, and the afore-mentioned, An Post ad, with the tune “Walking in the Air”. I was born, raised and still a practicing Catholic, and to me, it is the spirit of hope and love that shouts louder than the commercialism. Christmas Eve, just after Christmas Eve Mass, just before falling asleep, those moments are pure golden. In that small amount of time, magic is real, hope is strong and love cloaks a land. With the candles lit on our window sills, I fall asleep ever year, believing in more than just what we humans offer.

I am a strict Decemberist, or rather was, and ignore the trappings until December 1st. Christmas in Canada changes that. All our Christmas messages must be in the post by the 29th November.  So, a week early, I sat yesterday morning, with my ski-aches, my pen and my Christmas cards. It looked like Christmas outside, the snow, the cold, the trees along Banff Avenue. A week early, I embraced the holiday spirit.

There is so much I wanted to put in there; I wanted to send a hug to my best friend and the Christmas Cake I always make her. I wanted to put my hand on my Mother’s shoulder as she read my card to her and whisper that it is ok, I am happy, I will be home soon. I wanted to pour a glass of Baileys for my aunt and enjoy our usual festive beverage in front of her open fire in her sitting room. I wanted to show my nieces and nephews the snowmen I built outside, and the carrot- noses the deer ate overnight. I wanted to build one with them, and I wondered if their Christmas would be white. I wanted to sit with my brother and my sisters and remember Christmas past, of sleepless Christmas Eves and the best gifts, of the love of our parents and how lucky we were. The BMX and the roller blades, the doll’s house our nieces now play with, the monster munch and the first walkman, remember washing our dolls and dressing them in their best so that Santa knew we cared for our toys.

So often Christmas cards are hastily written, another thing that has to be done. Yet, a Christmas card offers an opportunity. It gave me the chance to say thank you, to say I miss you, to renew old friendships and mark new ones. In writing a card, I was gifted the opportunity to look at who is in my life and how they have helped me, supported me, stood by me this year, this long, fantastic, scary, different year. Those absent are missed and I send a silent card to Heaven. I hope when they are opened, the receiver stops, remembers the memories shared and feels the spirit in which it was written. To you, with all my love. I’m glad you are here, with me.

The cards are sent; it is Christmas here in Canada.