…counting down….

I might not like their coffee at all, but this picture really sums up the last couple of days here in TO.

Well.

That was interesting.  We got a bit of ice hereabouts.  And that ice weighed down all the hydro lines and left electrical power just a fading memory to a fair number of folks here in our sleepy little burgh.

The temperature has plummeted and it’s not looking like some peeps are going to get the electricity back before Wednesday.  Generally speaking my little part of the town is all okay.  I have hydro, and the commute to work is such that the streetcar and subway closures didn’t affect me.  Hoping that the situation stays okay- but preparing just in case.

The shopping is all done- so there’s no more running around required, at least.  A little more in the way of food prep for the day itself- and for some parties in the days following, but I’m basically feeling like I have a pretty solid handle on things.

Does that mean I’ve captured some of the spirit that has been so elusive this year?  Hmmm.  Not sure I can go that far.  But I think I’m getting there.

Despite an incredible night of Skydiggers fun and games on Friday (GREAT show) and some solid face-time and catching up accomplished with part of my extended fam/friends, I’m still not sure I’m feeling all that holiday-motivated.

One of my dearest buds- a good Irish/French Canadian Roman Catholic lad- is always asking me (seriously dude, it’s been something like 25 years- you really don’t know by now?) how I prefer to address the ‘greetings of the season’.  There has been a whole lot of nonsense about ‘wars on Christmas’ and that sort of rot on the ‘news’ channels of late, but I, personally, am in a very comfortable place with regards to my non-belief in the deity driving the holiday but my FIRM belief in the goodness of humanity.  And that does tend to get a good, solid airing at this time of the year.

I tell him (over and over) that any variation of Merry/Happy Christmas is fine by me- and not something that offends in the slightest.  I do celebrate the holiday- after a fashion.  I certainly celebrate the STORY behind the holiday- probably more ‘devoutly’ (for lack of a better word) than some of those who make claims of belief.  The story of Jesus- and the Nativity- is one of the greatest and most enduring of all our many and varied myths.  It chokes me up with its beauty- especially the Adoration of the Magi (an ecumenical touch that very much speaks to me- and you know I love the Zoroastrians), and it has had such an impact on our history and culture… what’s not to love?

Do I have to believe in the divinity of Jesus- or of the details of the story- to appreciate it?  I’d argue that I do not.  The same way I do not have to subscribe to the entirety of the belief system behind the story of Hanukkah to find grace and hope in that miraculous triumph of light over darkness.  Especially at this time of year- and in with Toronto’s current state of emergency (or non-emergency, according to the ‘mayor)- when any and all light in the darkness is welcome and appreciated.

The story of Christmas- in all its variations and off-shoots- permeates our culture.  The music, the subsequent stories- of giving, of love, of acceptance- it represents, to me, one of the many flavours of the strength of our humanity, and the love and hope we cling to as we share our time with those closest to us. Traditional Christmas carols can make me a little teary.  Especially Good King Wenceslas with its wonderful message and example…

This time of year is also always one of pretty heavy introspection.  That’s the pagan in me, I guess.  The longer nights, the turning of the year.  There’s just a whole lot of looking back happening, and a little bit of looking forward that seems to go along with that.  Such thoughts seem to be of weightier import this year, since I’m in a state of flux at the moment- next directions and contributions to the betterment of those things that I’ve been complaining of for the past year (and more) are still being ruminated upon- with no easy solutions found, thus far.  I’m getting close to a game plan- so we’ll see how that pans out, once the city is actually up and running again.

Christmas Eve is generally my night to sit and just feel the feelings of the season.  With a glass of wine- or some rummy eggnog- and the solstice tree all lit up, I take myself back over the past year and use the memories as a starting point for the goals and plans for the one that’s up-coming.  It’s a space of quiet amongst all the hustle and bustle of running to and from friends and family and shopping and cooking/baking.

The past couple of weeks have involved even more rushing about than is even the norm at this time of year, so the respite will be even more welcome- if increasingly plagued by concerns and lack of knowledge just what to do about them.  As usual, I will have some great stories to keep me company- a movie or two (have to re-watch the first installment of The Hobbit in anticipation of seeing Part Two on Boxing Day, and It’s a Wonderful Life is pretty much always on the playlist on the 24th), and I have a novel I’ve been trying to finish for weeks now.  My brain has been running in far too many directions to give it the attention it deserves (Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl, if you’re curious) but I will try again this evening, for a bit, at least.

While I’m reading, there will be, of course, a soundtrack.  It varies little from year to year, and I’ve mentioned some of the songs here before, but this will be the playlist on the Shuffle Daemon that will see me through to the holiday festivities of Wednesday.

This song exemplifies so much of what the season means to me.  Pared down- just those familiar Monkee voices in wonderful harmonies, candlelight and quiet.  It’s comforting in a way I can’t really articulate.  Even if one of them is now missing.

I’m not going to say more about Ray, specifically (but I did link one of the other posts I wrote about him, if you’re interested).  If you’re not a Kinks fan (but seriously, how can you NOT be?), I know you’re probably sick of me going on about him as I have been doing lately.  But this song remains so very culturally relevant that it is tied for my favourite holiday tune.  Remembering those less fortunate.  THAT’S a message that too often gets lost in the iPads and PS-whatevers and stuffstuffstuff (Steve Austin outfits?) that become the focus.

Father Christmas is neck-and-neck with that one there ^^^.  I love the Pogues.  Surprised I haven’t already written about them, actually.  I think Shane MacGowan (who was born on December 25th, interestingly) is one of the great lyricists of the 20th century- despite (or perhaps because of) his seemingly-significant personal demons.  I once saw a copy of a book of his lyrics, called Poguetry, in a music/bookstore at Yonge/Eglinton.  I didn’t buy it, since I was on my way somewhere and didn’t want to carry it around, and I’ve yet to find a copy.  Big regret.  Anyway… the song demonstrates the investment we have in the time of year- and the disappointment of those expectations that sometimes happens.  Or often happens.  But we keep on, and there are memories and new experiences to celebrate.

I wrote about this one before.  Strong, beautiful message.  And it’s Midge.  Co-author of a song that changed the world for a time.

This song.  That changed the world.  I wrote about it before too– and about how Bob and Midge started something incredible with a tune about giving and just being aware of something outside of ourselves.  All year round.

From the sublime to the Canadian… Nav65 and I were talking about this the other day.  A bit of the best of this place I call home.  A bit of funny.  A bit of silly.  A bit of Canada.

Thank you to all of you who have graciously joined me here in this little corner of the WordPress world and demonstrated that community isn’t an anachronism.  My wish for all is that you celebrate, with those you love best (either in realized or remembered festivities) and let go of the hardships of the past year while looking forward to the one to come with hope and the true sense of giving and receiving that the stories of this time of year evoke- once the material trapping are stripped away from the core.

Happy Christmas everyone.  May all your stories be wonderful this season.

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12 comments on “…counting down….

  1. My 17 year old son and I thank you for Bob and Doug’s 12 Days of Christmas.

    Merry Christmas, Cole: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=11099386699&searchurl=sts%3Dt%26amp%3Btn%3DPoguetry

    • colemining says:

      Thank you for the prompt, Nav!
      Yes, I have seen the book online- and $300+ is actually fairly low. I think the last time I saw it it was over $500. Have to wait for a special occasion and treat myself.
      Happy Christmas to you!

  2. ChgoJohn says:

    Only minutes ago did I learn that Toronto had been so severely crippled by the ice storm. A fellow blogger and “neighbor” of yours went without power for the 40 hours leading up to Christmas Eve. So glad her power was restored and that you were spared. That aside, I enjoyed today’s post, as I always do, and hope you’re happy during this festive season.

    • colemining says:

      Thank you John. Happy your friend has power restored. We were very lucky, but some close to us were/are not. A few just got the hydro up and running over night- and it’s VERY chilly here right now.
      Happy holidays to you and yours- and enjoy all the very best fruits of the season!

  3. Merry Christmas and thank you for your eloquent and beautiful posts!

  4. Ste J says:

    Yay new Christmas songs to add to the collective traditional soundtrack. Have a merry Christmas season my friend!

  5. […] In my last post I included a brief Shuffle Daemon holiday song selection- brief, partly because the post was getting long (even for me- which is saying something) and partly because I was pressed for time.  One of the residual effects of this time crunch is that things can be forgotten, left off, or out. […]

  6. Ann Koplow says:

    Thanks for this post, wonderful in so many ways.

  7. colemining says:

    Reblogged this on colemining and commented:

    Since I am experiencing EXTREME technical difficulties (laptop is pooched beyond repair- or at least beyond any repair I’m willing to pay for at this juncture), I’m resorting to a reblog of last year’s holiday post as my way of expressing my thanks and best wishes to all of you who contribute so much to my life here in this WordPressWorld of ours.

    Last year’s ice storm is a thing of memory (although the substantial costs associated with the damage still wants paying), in fact, it’s round about 10 degrees Celsius here in my City on the Lake this holiday eve.

    Much has changed since this time last year- and as soon as I’m up and running- computer-wise- again, I’ll have some reflecting to do on those changes. The good and the very sad.

    Until then, all the very best for the holidays (whichever holiday(s) you may/may not be celebrating) and all best wishes for peace, love and grooviness in 2015.

    Enjoy the time with loved ones- and the playlist.

    xoxo

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