Tuesday, December 28, 2004


Scribbles from rowdyman on Vimeo.

I've posted a new batch of pictures here, half of which are from my trip back to St. John's for Dad's birthday. It was the first time I've been in Newfoundland in December for at least 5 years. I think I under dressed. Let's just say I brought two sweaters and I wore them both the whole time I was there. The trip put me in that nostalgic, Christmas mood early this year. I was more looking forward to it this year, I guess as Angela's health is so improved. It was Christmas Eve last year when she bought a glucose meter and took her first blood sugar level. A year later and she's eating pound cake and chocolates with the rest of us.

I got a great e-mail from Chris about Christmas remembrances and that got me thinking too. I actually remember going to cut a Christmas tree. We would go to some 'Crown Land' or some road that led into the woods behind Big Pond. We'd drive for ages. Some times it was muddy, and all I could see were wrecks of old cars or tractors hauled into the bush to rot away. Sometimes there would be snow down and this always meant that when walking through the trees, dumps of snow would fall down the neck of your coat. It reminded me a of cover of the Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe I'd seen somewhere. The last time I remember going was a day like that. It was a Saturday afternoon and we had to hurry before sunset. I thought for some reason, all the good ones would be gone, but I was assured there were plenty of good ones. That day Dad always seem to walk past perfectly good trees to some scrawny thing. It was as though he was thinning the forest and not really trying to pick a good tree. On the drive back, I watched a ski-doo buzz over a farmers field covered in snow. The dark purple of the winter dusk was like a heavy velvet stage curtain, and the yellow glow of the dashboard dials were the footlights. I wore a pair of fingerless gloves so, my fingers looked like legs sticking out of stockings. I walked my finger/legs across my side of the dash, making them kick like Dawson City dancers to the sound of Jingle Bell Rock playing on VOCM.

I don't remember having any really bad trees, but I do recall Dad fixing a few by whittling down a branch, and drilling some holes to 'fill' a tree out. It's surprising how many people you meet that have never gone that far for a tree. I remember the tin foil stars we have (and the story behind them), and the strangely half melted candle of Santa's head. The better part of Santa's cranium had melted away, leaving him with the type of skull found on archaeological digs. The type a researcher might hold aloft, in a Shakespearean manner and say, "We can tell by the damage to the back of the skull that this Santa died a violent death, perhaps a reindeer hoof to the head, here or here." Oddly, despite head trauma, the Santa candle remained jolly, laughing all the way, which only added to my fascination. Among the home made ornaments (foil wrapped egg cartons), were the school-made variety. One in particular still makes me laugh. It was one I made in third or fourth grade. We had to cut up old Christmas cards and assemble them to hang from the tree. I picked a card with an illustration of the holy family in the stable. Remember this was '76 or '77 and the illustration had pictured Jesus, Mary and Joseph as Sears catalogue models. I thought it was just so cool that Joseph looked just like my G.I. Joe. Yeah, G.I. Joe stormed the Christmas tree that year.

More than anything though I remember reading on the floor under the tree, and lying there looking up at the lights between the branches, spotting chocolate that I would have right after I woke up. It's the strange suspension of time that Christmas has that is it's strangest effect. The half-wakefulness of it. The short afternoons, and early evenings of December are very disjointing. This year, I've been taking large doses of vitamin D to counter the lack of sun. It hasn't helped. Tomorrow, I'm going back to work. I thought I could better stave off the down side of Christmas by being constructive. I always plan to do too much and I never accomplish a thing. I seem to get stuck in low gear, always looking in the fridge and picking at left-overs. I rented a stack of movies last Thursday, with the plan to just give in to the television. Last year, we had so many guests that I think in a way, there were more kitchen experiments, more conversations and generally a more lively time. I've noticed the photos I've posted look so much like last year, it's hard to know if they are new or not. I guess that's a tradition too, though I didn't think it would happen so fast. Trust me, these photos are new (by the way, I'm not sure why all of our photos have a yellow haze to them? No matter how many lights are on, the pictures are yellow and dim - I think it's a white balance setting in the camera or it's set for daylight instead of tungsten or something). A theme of the Christmas service I attended with Andy was that we live our lives in the present, so while it's nice to reminisce, we shouldn't dwell on the past. Yet I suppose by having new traditions we are just making new memories. Which is an odd way of saying I'm looking forward to looking back again next year. I hope you enjoy these pictures and send some of your own. Together we can bring down the Internet with our holiday snap shots.

Peter

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