Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Day After Christmas

It's a quiet sunny day, the trees are cloaked in ice and there is very little traffic in this part of town. The Boxing Day bargain scavengers are no doubt scurrying through the malls and snapping up things they may regret buying later. As for me, I prefer to stay home and I need time to recover from all the Christmas events. I had a four day Christmas this year.

It started on Friday, when D. and I went to his daughter's place in Embro for Christmas lunch. And while she referred to it as lunch, it was really a full-scale dinner and we didn't need to eat anything else for the rest of the day, or the next day, but of course, we did.

Saturday, D. arrived carrying a new microwave oven for me. On Sunday D. and I opened gifts and had a peaceful day.

Nancy and her family arrived home Monday evening and so we were able to spend Christmas eve and Christmas day together. Nancy and Gary and the boys went to Christmas eve midnight mass, but I was knackered and went to bed. However, I was awakened by the fragrance of home-made spaghetti and joined them for a snack at 2 a.m. Christmas day didn't start until about 9:30, when I got up and turned on the coffee maker, the rest of the crew emerged shortly thereafter and we had brunch and Nancy and Gary prepared the turkey dinner.

There is always at least one snag in every Christmas Day, at least in our family. Gary's mom lives in a long-term care facility in Waterloo, but the plan was to bring her to the house for Christmas dinner and then take her back afterward. Gary and his brother went to pick her up, but she decided she wanted to stay put. So Gary drove back to the house to pack up dinner for his mom and his brother and take it to them. Gary needed someone to drive up with him in a second car so that his brother would be able to come back after eating dinner. Are you confused yet? Well if not, you are the only one who understands what was going on. Frank senior (my former husband) volunteered to follow Gary. So, Gary set off in the family car, and Frank tried to follow him in his car, Alas, Gary forgot that Frank was following him and he forgot that Frank had never been to the facility. Frank got thoroughly lost. Fortunately he had his cell phone with him and he called Nancy for directions. It was dark and the long-term care home is in a weird part of Waterloo that is only accessible by taking a roundabout and then backtracking. Are you lost yet? Frank still was. I'm still not sure how he was able to follow Nancy's directions, but somehow he managed and things worked out. Dinner was delayed by over an hour, but it was still mighty delicious.

Frankie and Sam are ecstatic because, between them, they have enough money to buy an Xbox 360. In fact, Frank might be at the mall right now, checking out prices. I don't know what is so enticing about the Xbox and probably never will, but then, I don't need to know.

I do know it was a very special Christmas and I have the Minnie Mouse to prove it.

Happy New Year to all of you.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Snow, Snow, Snow, Shop, Shop, Shop. Stop

We have snow. There is enough of it to go over my boot tops, should I happen to step off the sidewalk and into a snowbank. The effects of the storm were still here on Monday, so I stayed home, and of course by today, I thought of more things I needed to buy for Christmas. It always works that way for me. Sure, I do advance planning and the presents I ordered from the Avon guy have arrived as have a couple of other things. Christmas cards and a present to a far away friend have been mailed. But there is nothing like the urgency of the last few days before the holiday to put me back into a shopping frame of mind. And besides, it snowed.

So, I took the bus to the little mall at Bridgeport and Weber. It's not as horrendously busy as the big malls and I can usually find a bargain or two. The bus arrived almost on time and the driver was letting people off at shoveled driveways rather than at snow-burdened bus stops. It didn't take me long to spend almost $100 between Zellers and the grocery store. And it could all be carried in two very heavy bags. I still haven't found another something special for Frank and Sam, but that may happen when I go to the Highland Hills Mall on Thursday. I have to go there, the dentist's office is in the mall. But that may be another story.

I mentioned heavy bags, because when the bus came to take me home, it didn't stop in a more or less snow free area. And, there was an older (older than me) woman attempting to get off the bus with her walker. The driver did at least lower the bus. The woman took one step backwards off the bus and her foot sank into the snowbank. The young man who was waiting for the bus with me just stood there. I transferred both my bags to one hand and assisted the woman with the walker to reach the sidewalk safely. I don't blame the young man, he probably was not sure what to do, or how to do it safely. I do blame the bus driver, at least a little, for not stopping in a better spot. If I had had more foresight. I would have handed my grocery bags to the young man, then I would have had the use of both hands. My shoulder is a bit sore now, so it's time to stop shopping, for today.

I think I'll wrap presents and put them under my little green plastic tree while listening to Christmas music. That's a better way to spend the rest of my afternoon. As the song says, Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

Merry Christmas to all, and Merry Xmas too!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Mortimer Bus Gang and The Murder

On Monday, I went to Toronto to get together with four people I hadn't seen in about five years. We originally met on the Mortimer 62 bus. We all lived in the same neighbourhood at the time and it turned out that we had, and still have, some things in common. Mostly, I think we share a belief in what I'll call the Canadian ideal.

We are a disparate group in some ways. We come from different parts of the world. Three of us chose to become Canadians, two of us were born here, and of those two, one is aboriginal. Our skin colours range from pale and somewhat pink after one beer, to very dark brown. Our religious beliefs and lack of belief, also vary. We all have children who were born in Canada.

When we reunited and shared some of our stories, there was much laughter and then some serious discussion of what should be expected from people who are Canadian. The discussion was prompted by the very recent murder of a young Muslim girl. Her father is said to have murdered her because she did not follow the rules of his culture and she would not wear the head covering. We were all appalled and saddened by the event, though some of us were less shocked than others.

It can be extremely difficult for first generation Canadians to accept the choices their children make, especially when the children break cultural or religious rules. Two of our gang told us of the ways their own children had rebelled and of their reactions as parents. They were angry, yes, but that anger was tempered by their belief that they needed to act in accordance with the Canadian ideal.

I don't think we defined what the Canadian ideal is, but perhaps we defined what it isn't. Tolerance of difference does not include accepting differences that are harmful or discriminatory to a person, whether the intolerance has it's origin in culture, in faith, or in race, it makes no difference. It is simply wrong.

If the Canadian ideal ever becomes a wide spread reality, and I'd like to think it can; it will happen slowly, over generations. I am an optimist, but as my friends have proved, I am not alone. If sixty years ago, a small and very disparate group like the Mortimer bus gang had met at a bus stop, would we all have immediately started chatting with one another? Probably not, because it would have seemed too strange, too threatening, both for the brown people (including a large very fit, dark brown man) and for the one pink person. I remain cautiously hopeful and "as Canadian as possible, under the circumstances."