Thursday, December 24, 2009

Xmas Eve, 2009

Christmas Eve - no snow in Toronto, just grey skies and bone-chilling cold. Spent last night wrapping presents while watching a production of La Boheme on PBS. Too bad, I thought afterwards, that those Italians are so undemonstrative, so placid and passionless and dull.

Ha.

Yesterday, one of my own Christmas rituals - I took a hamper of food treats to the kind women who work at one of my favourite shops, the Doubletake second-hand store on Gerrard. They are from India and Pakistan, and they put up with a lot with sweetness and grace. Rusty, a local young man who does the carrying there, lost his mother this year and was muttering, "Humbug," to his co-workers the last time I meandered around looking for treasure. So I hope some treats from a grateful customer will bring him cheer. It brought ME cheer.

Then to No Frills for a mountain of groceries, but even with all that, I forgot the sour cream for the mashed potatoes and we don't have enough onions. Must rush out now and get last minute things, then to Mark the butcher for the turkey and sausage meat for the stuffing. I know, I'm not eating pork, but this is for my kids and guests. And I'll just force myself to eat it too.

Heard a woman on CBC radio reviewing the year's records; she especially recommended a local group called The Wooden Sky and played a cut from their CD. "It's breaking up music but also joyful," she said. I liked it a lot and thought my son might like it too, so decided to hike over to to Mike's Records on the Danforth, a terrific independent store which somehow has survived, though the independent video store nearby has gone bankrupt. Sure enough, they had it. I love this store, despite the enormous tarantula encased in plexiglass on the counter. I also tried to find crackers for our festive table but they were sold out. Enough. There's that lethal impulse to rush out today and get more, to make sure people are happy. MORE STUFF! Must curb that impulse.

On the way back, walking on the bridge over the Don Valley Parkway, I looked over the side at the cars bumper to bumper trying to get home. Most of the cars held one person. Why have we not fixed this? A massive hulk of steel and gasoline transporting one small person, the same route every day - one day, surely, this will seem the most insane of our many insanities.

George Strombolopolis showed an excerpt of a past interview with Eckhart Tolle the other night. Such a funny little man with such a wise message. He said he thought only a few hundred meditation devot├ęs would buy his book, now a worldwide bestseller thanks to word of mouth and Oprah. He advises us not to dwell the past or live for the future, because our life is right here, right now, this very moment we are living. This is what we have. He laughed about a sign in a pub: "Free beer, tomorrow."

Right now, I am on the divan at the end of my kitchen looking out at the grey garden, the crowded bird-feeder. I'm still in my pink nightgown, empty coffee cup beside me, the London Review of Books, a yellow notepad, a snoring cat. I can hear the furnace chug and the click of my fingers. You are out there somewhere, stopping for a moment in your busy day to check in on mine. It is Christmas Eve. Here we are. This moment we are sharing is your life, and it is my life.

Free beer tomorrow. Merry Christmas.

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