When I was a kid we put up our Christmas tree on or around my sister Jane's birthday on the 19th of December. Happy then over the holidays I would sit in the family room with its green shag carpet and turned down lamps and temporary pine smell, and stare at the tree, holding on to it as if holding on to time. I'd squint my eyes and let the colours run together like some watercolour painting on a night sky. I also associate Burl Ives as snowman and the annual Rudoph TV special with that pine scented memory, but mostly it's the lights.
40-something years later I'm living in a large city in which there is no olive green shag carpet in sight, but the lights strung about the place could accommodate their own dedicated landfill. Despite that thought I still catch myself standing in front of them squinting my eyes to make a watercolour painting on the night.
Tonight is our first family Christmas celebration of the season, with Ceri's brother and nephew at their place. It's warm and pleasant visit, and we enjoy pot roast, conversation and guitar playing by both brothers.
On the way, we take the streetcar out to the east side and walk up through the pretty neighbourhood. Pretty neighbourhood with what seems like neighbours trying to out-do each other with giant lighted blow-up plastic Christmas shit all over their lawns.
This morning I'm moving about my place, finishing coffee and packing things up for work, and I'm stopped still by the sun showing itself, suddenly, in a mirror.
"Good morning," the sun says. "What's your hurry?"
"I'm glad to see you too," I say.
It's blustery and damp. So far, that's what the winter has been: blustery and damp. Cold and clear is pleasant to walk in; blustery and damp gets down through your bones. Despite that, we walk over to the Distillery District to see the annual Christmas Market, and many folks and their families are braving it too. We sip some mulled wine under a patio heater and then check out the vendors in the booths lining the cobbled "streets."
We retreat back westward and land in C'est What for some cosy and a snack.
Walking home later, we've got homemade soup on our minds. Even the CN Tower looks as if it wants to hide under the covers.
Today we go over to Carly's place for a pre-30th-birthday party tree trimming and dinner. We've used Carly's birthday as the "Christmas tree erecting day" since she was small. And now she's 30. Yes, I have a daughter who has been on the planet for three decades. Three marvellous decades.
Walking across the pedestrian bridge (over the downtown Union Station rail corridor) I'm taken, as always, with the rain on pavement. I've just arrived home from Sudbury, appreciative of the downtown airport's proximity to my home (ten minutes' walk) and am on my way up to meet my people for beer o'clock at our usual local. It's good to be home.
Monday morning I take the hour long flight from Toronto to Sudbury, to spend the week holed up in a boardroom with a team, working on a proposal. These kinds of team-based efforts are usually good experiences for me; they're intense but more productive than they would be if we were operating out of multiple offices. It's great to see and talk with people with whom I interact often via email and telephone. And getting with a team is always useful networking opportunity for me; getting to know colleagues with whom I can consult on issues and tasks that come up every day. It's a big company, and frankly, once you get to know someone in a live setting, they tend to return your calls and emails.
It's one of those little gifts life hands you every once in awhile: a rainy Sunday morning. That which invites you to have coffee in bed, to loaf around in your pyjamas and to think of things to cook. Tomorrow I'm heading out of town for the week for work, so I've got some things in the refrigerator to use up, like a red pepper and some zucchini. I had recently noted this recipe in my Pinterest recipe collection which I'd saved from my favourite foodie blog, Skinnytaste.com, and decide to make it, modified to incorporate some not-so-skinny pancetta, also sitting there in the refrigerator. More thumbs-up from both sides of the table.