The Ghosts of Christmas Past

Aunt, Uncle, cousin’s children 1980’s

It’s been a challenging two years for everyone. One of my Covid projects was to get a new laptop so I don’t freeze on Zoom. Sounds so appealingly simple doesn’t it?? Anyone who has been down this path knows that is not true. Especially if you do all the techy stuff yourself. I went through 3 computers until I found the right one. If only I had known what I wanted and if only laptops were in stock in Courtenay. That seems like my theme for the year. As part of my transfer of files were my millions of photos, so what could be more timely than a trip down memory lane of Christmas past. I said to myself that no one is interested in my family photo album.. except maybe my family and friends. But I have enough family to make this a worthwhile project.

My photo records go back to 1973 in London England where I had my first English Christmas. This Christmas dinner included I don’t remember what and three roommates, two from South Africa and one from England. Christmas in England was surprisingly low key compared to Canada. It was one of the first moments that I felt like I was living in a foreign country.

I come from a family with lots of relatives and have spent several memorable Christmas’s over the years with aunts, uncles and cousins over the years. Sadly some of my family members have passed away as has my Golden Retriever who lives on in my email address.

One of my more memorable Christmas was in 2009 with my brother in Saint John NB. You can start to see a theme here and it might be NUTCRACKERS. The costumes were provided by my brother’s friend who had come back from Asia with a lot of trinkets to resell. So my brother opened his house for a pop up store and we all got in the spirit. This was of course followed by lobster.

The dress up theme was continued at my Ottawa Christmas in 2011-2012. We had a Christmas craft moment and made Fascinators for everyone. You can see them modeled by the ladies of Ottawa Public Health and members and friends of my best friend’s family.

My Christmas travels have taken me to New York, Mexico, Phoenix, Costa Rica and Hornby Island.

This Covid version of Night Before Christmas is pretty creative. I don’t know who the author is as it came to me in an email. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. I hope that we can all get together for future Christmases.

Twas the night before Christmas, but Covid was here,
So we all had to stay extra cautious this year.
Our masks were all hung by the chimney with care
In case Santa forgot his and needed a spare.


With Covid, we couldn’t leave cookies or cake
So we left Santa hand sanitizer to take.
The children were sleeping, the brave little tots
The ones over 5 had just had their first shots,


And mom in her kerchief and me in my cap
Had just settled in for a long winter’s nap.
But we tossed and we turned all night in our beds
As visions of variants danced in our heads.


Gamma and Delta and now Omicron
These Covid mutations that go on and on
I thought to myself, “If this doesn’t get better,
I’ll soon be familiar with every Greek letter”.


Then just as I started to drift off and doze
A clatter of noise from the front lawn arose.
I leapt from my bed and ran straight down the stair
I opened the door, and an old gent stood there.


His N 95 made him look pretty weird
But I knew who he was by his red suit and beard.
I kept six feet away but blurted out quick
” What are you doing here, jolly Saint Nick?”


Then I said, “Where’s your presents, your reindeer and sleigh ?
Don’t you know that tomorrow will be Christmas Day? “.
And Santa stood there looking sad in the snow
As he started to tell me a long tale of woe.


He said he’d been stuck at the North Pole alone
All  his white collar elves had been working from home,
And most of the others said “Santa, don’t hire us!
We can live off the CERB now, thanks to the virus”.


Those left in the toyshop had little to do.
With supply chain disruptions, they could make nothing new.
And as for the reindeer, they’d all gone away.
None of them left to pull on his sleigh.


He said Dasher and Dancer were in quarantine,
Prancer and Vixen refused the vaccine,
Comet and Cupid were in ICU,
So were Donner and Blitzen, they may not pull through.


And Rudolph’s career can’t be resurrected.
With his shiny red nose, they all think he’s infected.
Even with his old sleigh, Santa couldn’t go far.
Every border to cross needs a new PCR.


Santa sighed as he told me how nice it would be
If children could once again sit on his knee.
He couldn’t care less if they’re naughty or nice
But they’d have to show proof that they’d had their shot twice.


But then the old twinkle returned to his eyes.
And he said that he’d brought me a Christmas surprise.
When I unwrapped the box and opened it wide,
Starlight and rainbows streamed out from inside.


Some letters whirled round and flew up to the sky
And they spelled out a word that was 40 feet high.
There first was an H, then an O, then a P,
Then I saw it spelled HOPE when it added the E.


“Christmas magic” said Santa, as he smiled through his beard.
Then suddenly… all of the reindeer appeared.
He jumped into his sleigh, and he waved me good-bye,
Then he soared o’er the rooftops and into the sky.


I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight
“Get your vaccines my friends, Merry Christmas, good-night.”
Then I went back to bed and a sweet Christmas dream
Of a world when we’d finished with Covid 19.

Why We Should Talk to Strangers More – The Atlantic

So many of us have been raised to see strangers as dangerous and scary. What would happen if we instead saw them as potential sources of comfort and belonging?
— Read on www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2021/08/why-we-should-talk-strangers-more/619642/

This could explain some of the appeal of smaller places like Hornby Island.

How ‘The Buzz’ Started at Her Independent Living Facility | Next Avenue

She started The Buzz to keep residents informed about COVID-19 spread at their independent living facility when management failed to do so. Read more here
— Read on www.nextavenue.org/the-buzz-covid-19/amp/

Love #grassroots

Walktober 2019: Finding beauty wherever you go

Walktober 2019: Finding beauty wherever you go

https://breezesatdawn.wordpress.com/2019/11/03/walktober-2019-finding-beauty-wherever-you-go/
— Read on breezesatdawn.wordpress.com/2019/11/03/walktober-2019-finding-beauty-wherever-you-go/

This is a virtual meet up of bloggers. It is so touching to hear and see everyone’s walks. And the bloggers is a gifted writer.

Summer Reading on Hornby Island

Summer on Hornby is too busy for reading or blogging.  Since the rare rainy day has occurred, it is time to refresh my blog.  My reading of the past year has been trapped in the world of grade 7 fantasy books for on online book club for 9 students in Ontario.  This was a spin off from my reaching English as a Second Language online.  I ended the semester with The Handmaids Tale which did not go over well.  Although we had done several dystopian novels, The Handmaids Tale did not rank up there with the Hunger Games or Heartless.  My personal favourite from the book club was Heartless by Marissa Meyer.  It was a prequel to Alice and Wonderland. It has a good plot, good character development and kept the action moving.  Unfortunately, none of these grade 7 students had read Alice in Wonderland so they missed some of the literary allusions.   Sad commentary on children’s reading but there are so many books to choose from it’s hard to pick recommended reads.  I found it challenging to pick books for the book club. Many libraries have lists, Amazon and Goodreads have lists, there are so many lists, I had to make a spread sheet of the lists.  Their favourites were:

  • Little Brother
  • Replica
  • Rebel of the sands
  • Heartless
  • Maze Runner
  • Divergent
  • Hunger Games

The downside to the book club was that I spent my time reading grade 7 books and not my own picks. So I was pleased to have been introduced to some adult reading over the summer.

The first book I was introduced to was Adventures in Solitude by Grant Lawrence at a reading on Hornby Island.  Grant has had a pod cast on CBC about some characters he knew from spending summers in Desolation Sound, north of Powell River and only accessible by boat.  His stories brought back memories of a sailing trip I had to Desolation Sound in 1985.  I could imagine the scenes in his stories.   Grant wrote about the loss of people’s mental health from extended periods of time in the wilderness.  I sometimes wonder if the strange hats people wear on Hornby might be an early warning sign.

The next reading I went to was by Amanda Hale.  I was not familiar with her work but was intrigued by her fictionalized memoir of her father’s internment in England during WWII.  After the long drought of adult reading I welcomed The Mad Hatter.  I couldn’t put it down.  The reference to the mad hatter is indirectly related to Alice and Wonderland and you might think this is my theme for today.  Amanda’s book is being published in Sept 2019.

My third read was picked from the annual Hornby Island book sale.  It was a mystery set in Ireland called The Likeness by Tana French.  She has written a series around a group of Irish detectives.  I enjoyed the Likeness, it kept me reading late at night.  I did however find some inconsistencies in the story line.  I’m interested in reading more of her series. The story has an oddly similar theme to the Replica.

The next reading I went to by Dr Gabor Mate who also lives part-time on Hornby.  I haven’t read any of his books and his reading was from a book he is writing.  The reading was a sell out which is a measure of the wide spread interest in his topic of personal development and spirituality.  In keeping with the mad hatter theme, he did talk about the use of Iowaska, the drug used in Peru to generate deep personal experiences.

I feel fortunate to have attended the wide variety of readings here.  It only takes me 5 min to get there and I don’t have to find or pay for parking for which I also feel grateful.

Links to my reads on Amazon.

Grade 7 reads

My reads

Gabor Mate books on Amazon

 

What have been your summer reads?