Waking Up In Canada

Time Out Just To See

16 days to go December 9, 2011

Filed under: Christmas,Travel — wakingupincanada @ 8:22 am
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You know how I love Christmas and you know how I love getting mail? Well, yesterday, the two crossed paths. TWO, not just one, package notifications were in my mailbox, and I walked home with 2 boxes. I texted my mother, just in case one could be opened right away, only to get a reply at 5am her time, telling me no, they both had to wait until December 25th.

I walked home about 5 inches taller, which at 5’2 is a big leap upwards. I left them under my housemate’s bed: out of sight, out of mind. I feel my mother has unfairly prepared me for this. Growing up, 99.9% of our gifts were only delivered on Christmas Morning. Since becoming adults and having to help Santa with delivering his gifts, our gifts were left sitting under the tree without a name on them. No, we never forgot to give a gift or who one was for, well at least not by the time the turkey was served. So, for the first time ever, I have been given my gifts, with my name on them, 16 days before Christmas.

My mother is annoyed that the post worked so fast: currently mail is getting across the Atlantic faster than any time since I got here. I do applaud the postal service for their diligence, however, I have to look at my gifts for more than 2 weeks, unopened! The anticipation is overwhelming. Given the time difference, I wonder can I open my gifts along with my family, through the power of the Internet which would mean I’d be opening them around midnight, which is, of course, still December 25th. I think that would be fair.

Christmas Day is still a work in progress. We need to work out what we are eating: traditional or contemporary, the time we are eating, and who will be here. We know that there will be a Christmas Eve Service, Baileys, either in coffee or hot chocolate, and to my surprise, it will be hot chocolate for me: hot chocolate has raised in my estimation in Canada, largely due to a little place in Montreal called Juliette et Chocolat. There will be a few Skype dates. It is almost certain there will be a Christmas Film playing, and it is time the negotiations for that began. Apparently, a Banff tradition is tobogganing. They use proper toboggans too, I hear. I’ve seen them on sale. That’s a few steps up from us using fertiliser bags in the back field, and I’m not sure they’ll be any better to tell you the truth.

It is now the second week of Advent, and in the preparation so far, I feel just like I would if I were at home. Perhaps having a big family that keep in close contact means that I feel part of all their celebrations. Yet, it is more than that. To me, Christmas is about hope, love and joy, and that permeates all, whether it is my family I am sharing it with or my new friends. I see it in the customers in the store and the people on the street. It is about seeing the best and not focusing on the worst. It is about knowing where exactly your gifts are but loving the giver and the day enough to know that it will be so much more special to leave them unopened until Christmas Day.



Just an evening November 18, 2011

Filed under: Books,Doing what you love,Uncategorized — wakingupincanada @ 7:10 am
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I popped into the post office last night after my book club meeting. There were 2 letters sitting in my mailbox, leaning diagonally across the square metal pigeon hole. Both had Winnie The Pooh envelopes; envelopes I’d left with my niece to draw on. It was dark. The snow came down beautifully yesterday afternoon. Snowflakes hovered over and back, and down to the ground faster than before, and for longer. I shovelled snow outside our store for the first time yesterday afternoon. People make conversation when they see you shovelling. It was a pleasant trip outdoors. I digress.

I walked home in the dark along the white sidewalk, clutching my 2 letters in my thick gloves. I felt childlike, the letters clumsily grasped. I am not used to the thick padding. I was on a high from BookClub at the wonderful Banff Library. Last night’s theme was World Authors and so I talked about my favourite two: Nadeem Aslam and Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I took down new recommendations. I must state, even if I never read any of the recommendations, my love for the BookClub would not lessen. Sitting around talking about books and listening to others’ opinions and descriptions to me is like biting into really good fudge: soft, sweet and warm with endorphins rising up from mere anticipation, shouting for joy. I won a book last night. There are weekly draws for books. I did not get my first or second choice but I will give “Solo” by Rana Dasgupta a go in December. I was happy to win a book.

As I weaved my way past the congregation of the Korean Church making their exit through the corner of Banff Avenue and Wolf Street, I noticed I was happy. It wasn’t the simple happiness of a pleasant life, for which I am grateful daily to God. My happiness was a ball of joy in my gut on a cold, dark, snowy evening. 2 letters in my hand, a prize book, an entertaining evening; I am happy.


I Got Mail October 13, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — wakingupincanada @ 2:03 pm
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There it was, my first letter in the mailbox.

I had waited on a package of contact lenses from Ireland. (Other people would get Lyons Tea and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk and Tayto Crisps, not me!). It was approaching the 3 week mark and I was getting concerned. To familiarise you, in Banff, my mailbox is not outside my house. Nope, Postman Pat doesn’t deliver here. We have to set up a Post Office Box at the Post Office. Banff is small, it’s a ten minute brisk walk, but still, when you decide to go to check for mail and all you get are Safeway promotions and applications for credit cards, it does get dispiriting.

This morning, I turned the key and there, sitting in the tiny square space was a brown envelope. I knew it was from home, we rarely have the normal white envelopes in stock. My heart soared taking it out, and there, tucked in behind, was the notification to collect the package at the counter. I wondered whether I should wait until I got home to read my letter, but I was already opening it. Seeing Mum’s handwriting brought a tear to my eye, a rush of love into my gut and an overall sigh of happiness. She told me about the football final (we lost), the sick and ill, my sisters’ upcoming interviews: the regular news from home. With it was a letter from my niece. She is 4, so I imagine an aunt was putting her thoughts in writing, but the picture of her and her nearly 2 year old sister was definitely all hers. She even included a rainbow and a rosebush.

“With all the fancy phones you don’t seem so far away”. Yet, there is something very special about getting a letter. A letter takes time and thought: it can’t be written quickly like a text or even an e-mail. Once written, you have to find the envelope. Then comes the part where my good intentions fall down: you must remember to go on one’s errand to the Post Office and mail it. Receiving a letter that is not a bill, a “vote for me for President” flyer or your supermarket’s upcoming sales is a gift like no other. It takes seconds to open the envelope and pull out the letter yet the feeling of excitement lasts for hours, like a child opening her gifts at Christmas. I don’t want to go back to before the internet, before texting and mobiles (or cells, as I need to say here). 3 weeks is far too long to get urgent information and I like knowing right away about the game, the interview, the dinner, or to text a photo instantly of the thing that just says “Saw this and thought on you”. For other things, a timely, measured letter is perfect. It gives you time to say what is important. It says “I thought on you for longer than an instant and decided to take time out and get this to you”. It says “what I really wanted you to know is..”. In an envelope, you can get your niece’s drawing, not just a copy.

My favourite people

I love letters; writing them, receiving them. A letter can be more meaningful than a massive gift. More importantly, you don’t have to wait for an occasion.

A letter makes my walk to my mailbox worth it.