’tis the season

Trust me, I am reallyreally not one for in ANY way supporting the whole ‘Xmas begins as soon as the Hallowe’en candy is put on sale’ thing.  I think it’s especially shameful when stores and the like start putting up decorations before Remembrance Day.  Don’t like that at all.  Respect for our veterans should not be too much to ask.

It’s only November 22.  I have yet to do anything as my token nod to the season- as far as shopping/decorating/cooking/baking goes.  That will likely start next weekend (a couple of friends always host an American Thanksgiving dinner and I will be bringing dessert)- although, other than the baking (which I do kind of love.  Most of the time) I’m not sure I’m looking forward to the preparations all that much.

Partly because the decorative stuff is all in storage, which necessitates a trip to the storage place to get it all, and then another trip out there to return the empty boxes…

All right.  I’m being lazy.  I get that.  I could make excuses about the residual effects of the move, being behind in the proactive searching for employment, NaNoWriMo (closing in on 40 ooo words- even if the story isn’t even half told), this cold I can’t shake (seriously- week two and counting)… But honestly?  I think that the real reason I’m not feeling a whole lot of the old peace on earth/good will toward fellow humans thing right now has to do with the build up of cynicism and existential despair that current events have instilled down deep in the very core of my being.


Over the last couple of days I’ve seen a bunch of posts suggesting attempts at rediscovering some joy amongst the jaded negativity that seems to be prevalent lately.  My blogging bud, Beth Byrnes, spoke about her attempts to change the course of recent spates of judge-y behaviours, including some seasonally-inspired therapy in the form of light-hearted Hallmark movies.

I had to agree that one of my personal favourite things about this time of year is the annual showings of wonderful feel-good classic films.  It’s a Wonderful Life, the original Miracle on 34th Street (seriously, who is more beautiful than Maureen O’Hara?), the Sound of Music (and I’m NOT talking about some new-fangled live version with some country star- Julie Andrews IS Maria, and Canadian treasure Christopher Plummer IS Georg.  That’s all I have to say about that), and even newer films like Elf (how do you not LOVE Will Farrell in that role?  And Bob Newhart- and Mr. Grant as SANTA?) and Love Actually (fave ensemble cast film in years) really contribute to the overall suspension of Scroogery- even in the face of political skullduggery run rampant and the disasters (natural and otherwise) that seem to be affecting the world with increasing regularity.

This is use of story– and enduring characters- at its most wonderful.  When a time-tested tale can generate viewership- across generations, beliefs and borders of all kinds- and allow a little bit of hope for the realization of goodness to creep into the day-to-day… That’s kind of freakin miraculous.

So today I took my first step on the road to some celebrating of the season.  First annual tradition well on its way?  Check!

I picked up our tickets to the annual Skydiggers Xmas show at the Horseshoe Tavern (which I referenced here, when discussing some of our city’s FANTASTIC live music venues) this evening.  Every December- for years beyond counting- a group of us (the core remains the same but we welcome additions/cast changes dependent on circumstances- including inclement weather or last minute cancellations) have gathered to see these Toronto stalwarts- and whomever else might be floating around and wanting to play a song or two- sing their classic tunes and share a little holiday cheer.

The show feels like a visit with family.  The band has been a fixture in my life since forever it seems (1988, anyway).  I have seen them in any number of venues, in any number of cities (and on subway platforms- ran into Andy on Hallowe’en, actually) over the years, but the Xmas show at the ‘Shoe is a traditional gathering that can’t be missed.  Be assured that there will be more on this topic once the show actually happens.

If you’re going to be in Toronto the weekend of December 20th and 21st, come on over and join us.  Well worth the price of admission.  And I’m sure that Andy (and frequent guest/collaborator, the Member of Parliament for Davenport, Andrew Cash) will have some insightful commentary on our current political scandals, in case you’re looking for more of that sort of thing.  We’ll be set up by the sound dude, drinking 50 (the one time of year THAT happens.  Horrible beer.  But part of the tradition), if you want to come say hello.

I left Soundscapes (my fave record store and source of tickets in town), not only with the tickets that were the focus of the trip, but with a copy of Ray Davies’ new book Americana (finally picked it up- after finding out about it MONTHS ago). DOUBLE SCORE!

Since it is (for now) unseasonably warm, and since I was feeling somewhat energized for the first time in weeks, I decided that a walk was in order.  The winter will arrive in earnest soon enough.

Strolling back along College, then through Kensington and down Spadina, past the venue itself (which waits, like a loyal friend, for our appearance in a few weeks), then through the ED (long before the arrival of all the 905ers) and down toward that giant spire in the sky (lit up in red tonight), I remembered just how much I LOVE this town.

Recent events have cast us in a darker light- and created some of that angst I was talking about.  But Toronto remains a great place to live.  Our downtown core on a Friday evening is alive with people moving about- setting plans for the evening, heading to dinner/after work drinks, picking up groceries (or bubble tea, or a slice of pizza), and doing some early holiday shopping.

I could almost feel the gently falling (hopefully gently falling– 5 years ago it took hours to get home after a couple of feet of white stuff fell on the city while we were inside singing along) snow that will likely set the scene outside on Queen Street in a few weeks, as we begin to really ring in the season, with some of my favourite peeps in the widewide world.

I let the Shuffle Daemon set the playlist, and he (she?  It?) didn’t disappoint.

Forgot how much I love that video.

A steamy Skydiggers song- memories of summer AND of Xmas shows past.

Another song about the heat of summer- and levies and such- but a FANTASTIC tune about walking about kind of aimlessly yet winding up in the same places again and again.

The Daemon seemed determined to evoke warmth (holidays and ice cream and such)- perhaps knowing what’s forecast to arrive this weekend (plummeting temperatures and snow).  I think it’s trying to tell me that summer WILL come ’round again… Gotta love The Beat, regardless of season.

Now THAT’s a weekend-starting song, if I ever heard one.  And love the classic MTV clip at the start.  I DARE you not to smile.

After a long absence, Genesis has been popping up on the SD a lot lately. 

Some bitter-sweetness here.  Michael Hutchence died 16 years ago today.  A definite waste- of talent and promise.  But he left us with songs like this…

With these songs echoing through the headphones, a Skydiggers reunion to look forward to, a great book to read, and a football game (a Canadian football championship) to watch on Sunday (notwithstanding the fact that the hometown Argos were jinxed by the halftime arrival of someone who shall remain nameless.  What the hell.  Oskee Wee Wee or whatever.  Ontario is still there to represent.  Go Ticats.  I suppose), I’m starting the weekend with a happier outlook than has been the norm of late.

I’m thinking that it will be an unplugged weekend (except for the writing I want to get done), so the tv will remain off (suggestions from Genesis notwithstanding) and the news groups will remain unchecked.  The world can carry on without my input for a couple of days.

Bring on the holidays.  I think I just might be ready to face the madness.

Bon weekend!

17 comments on “’tis the season

  1. Cole,

    How’s the Nyquil/Dayquil coming along? Hope you get better soonest.

    Fun post. Maureen O’Hare? Grace Kelly? Beth B.?

    Good thing you’re under the influence of Nyquil. What’s my defence?

    • colemining says:

      Nav1965- I make no apologies- and I’m no longer under the influence of any OTC cold meds (Halls lozenges don’t count). Seem to finally be on the mend- thanks for asking. Had enough energy to wander the street of my fair town for a number of hours this evening, anyway.
      Maureen O’Hara? A red-headed Irish woman who could take on John Wayne- and WIN!?!? Now that’s a role model/woman of spirit that everyone should appreciate.
      I realize the post sort of ran the gamut… had to get the random brain ramblings out there so I can focus on the NaNo and the Ray Davies inspiration and Grey Cup festivities this weekend.
      Thanks for reading!

  2. lostandfoundbooksandfoundbooks says:

    I am smiling listening to the English Beat (happy memories of university) and imagining the snow gently falling on your fair town. Thanks for the joy!

    • colemining says:

      LAFB! The Beat just make SO very many things joyous! Consciously attempting to shift my mood- and they’re one of the best ways to make that happen. Fortunately the gently falling snow remains nothing more than a memory/projection of things to come (still quite mild here- how’s it looking in Ottawa?), but I’m even feeling somewhat ready to face THAT when it arrives, as it will. Likely sooner rather than later.
      Enjoy the weekend- and thanks for reading!

      • lostandfoundbooksandfoundbooks says:

        It is beautiful here. At least I think it’s beautiful. Not much snow yet, though we’ve had a few pretty sprinkles. But tonight it is a comfortable +1, foggy, and every porch light looks warm and welcoming. Store windows are being decorated for the season, and there is a stillness in the air. An anticipation of the happy season almost upon us? Maybe? As if people are finally shutting out Harper, the Senate scandal, the +17,000 job loss that hit us in the past year — and all that is weighing us down here in Ottawa. I wish it were last all year long. Happy weekend to you too.

      • colemining says:

        A light dusting of snow is completely acceptable and to be expected at this time of year. And I’m pretending that there are no scandals happening- at any level of our government- until Monday morning. At which time I’m sure the angst will return. At least somewhat.
        For now we should just give in to that anticipatory stillness- and hope that it bodes well for better things to come.
        We will persevere- and figure a way to overcome this epidemic of terrible leadership with which we find ourselves currently saddled.

  3. Loved this post. It was positively…POSITIVE! Loved Maureen O’Hara in absolutely any and every movie she was in. I must admit, my friend, I truly wasn’t in the Christmas spirit until reading your post. Now I simply can’t wait to go out and search for Christmas presents for my seven nieces and nephews! You’re an absolute George Bailey! Whoda thunkit?

    • colemining says:

      Oh Susan, in a day filled with nice things, your comment is the nicest! How lovely to be called a ‘George Bailey’- he remains an exemplar for all times and all people. One of the truly incredible characters created in the 20th century.
      I’m trying to shift my attitude back toward an acceptable level of optimism- so pleased that I seem to have done so and helped to influence a comparable shift in you. There is joy to be found- regardless of the season- sometimes it just takes a reminder. Happy to have provided such for you.
      Although I had an amazing mother- who I miss terribly at this time of year- somehow I’ve always felt that Maureen was my ‘famous mum’- so deeply did she help shape my childhood.
      Happy shopping, and thanks for reading!

  4. bethbyrnes says:

    First off, honoured by the shout-out. Second, absolutely Christopher Plummer IS Georg, end of discussion. (Who would be stupid enough to remake that perfect film? Oh, I forgot, Hollywood. They never miss a chance to embarrass themselves.) Not much likelihood of snow here but every so often, this place surprises me. I have to say you are inclining me toward Toronto when my dream has been Vancouver. I am determined to inch back toward my British homeland, via Canada. Now you’ve made it more of a dilemma, choosing. And then there is Nova Scotia – LOVE that place. Anyway, holiday talk – I may have to post a festive dish for tomorrow. Cole you are always so informative and inspiring.

    • colemining says:

      Toronto and Vancouver have very different things to offer- both great, in their own ways. I love the west coast, but find I remain a Torontonian to the core (current events and all). My stroll last night reminded me of all the greatness. In less than an hour I walked through Little Italy, Chinatown, Kensington Market, past some great theatres in the Entertainment District, some classic music venues (like the El Mocambo- where the Stones still like to hang out when they’re in town- in addition to the ‘Shoe) and the mix of modern and heritage architecture that peppers the city and makes its landscape so interesting (Frank Gehry’s recent remarks notwithstanding. Traitor.). And we are in close proximity to a whole load of Britishness, should the desire hit you (high tea at the Windsor Arms here in town or down the road at the Prince of Wales in Niagara on the Lake for e.g). Or, you can wander down to Stratford and see the incredible Christopher Plummer in person! We’ve got a lot going on! Don’t let our recent bad press (or recent bad mayor/city council) dissuade you!

      East Coast is also beautiful- have friends in Halifax and I’ve had some great times in that town.

      I suppose it depends on how much you want to be on an ocean. Me, I’m just fine with the Big Lake in my backyard. We got that dusting of snow- although it is fast melting away as the sun comes out in full force. Time to go outside and appreciate the day.

      Of course you get a shout out! You were a part of my inspiration to shake up the moods and pull out some positivity! Thanks for the words of high praise. Some shared inspiration is a good thing! Look forward to your festive recipe(s)!

      Thanks, as always, for reading!

    • I was born in the Annapolis Valley of NS, attended Dartmouth High School, and went to St. Mary’s University (home of scandals).

  5. Ste J says:

    I think you just made my month with Elegantly Wasted, I haven’t heard that in forever..so now I need to go reread your post as I seem to have forgotten the words…such is the awesomeness of that song.

    • colemining says:

      It is a great song- wish that he’d left us with more, but I am grateful for the many wonderful tunes that make up a pretty strong and lasting legacy.

      So enraptured was I by the wander around town I completely forgot to include that additional wonder that was moving my mood toward the seasonal and acceptable-in-the-realm-of-human-interactions; The Doctor! It was a Doc Who-filled Saturday- added to the fun weekend-y (-ish?) times.

  6. […] an incredible night of Skydiggers fun and games on Friday (GREAT show) and some solid face-time and catching up accomplished with […]

  7. […] got a start on that last Friday night. I know I mention the Skydiggers Xmas show at The Horseshoe Tavern every year. There’s a reason for that. It’s something […]

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