Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas memories

As it is the season, I've been thinking a lot about Christmases past. This is my first Christmas without any grandparents, and also the first Christmas without a home to visit that has been in my life for a while (my grandfather's house sold a few weeks ago). I have had many great Christmases, and a few crappy ones. Here are some memories that come to mind (in no particular order):

  • The year Dad gave Mum her sapphire ring. That was the most excited I have ever seen her. There are few things better than seeing your mom totally ecstatic and happy.
  • 1986 - Santa finally brings me my own color TV. I was thrilled. I still have that TV, in my basement, and it still works.
  • 1996 - my Dad had left the house that fall. This was the worst Christmas ever. I was working a co-op job at the time, and co-workers were walking around singing carols on our last day of work. I went to the basement office, shut the door, and cried because my family situation was so messed up and I had no idea what kind of Christmas I was in store for. The next few Christmases after that were rocky until we got adjusted to our new family structure.
  • The year I got my blue winter coat, which I proudly put on and posed in.
  • The year my younger brother snuck downstairs early to see the presents from Santa, only to be caught by my older brother, which sent my younger brother running back upstairs screaming. By 9am he was still sleeping. I didn't actually witness this, but I love the story.
  • The year my younger brother sat on the floor opening presents, with Nana right in the room, and he opens her present. "Clothes" he says, and whips them over his head and they almost land on Nana. My mother was mortified at the time, but it's a hilarious family story now.
  • The year I was threatened with a knife, and somewhat seriously. I care not to discuss this one further, but it is definitely a Christmas memory I won't forget.
  • My younger brother used to carefully unwrap his presents and then wrap them back up, thinking no one would be the wiser. Mum always knew.
  • I don't have a memory of this, but we had a year of our tree falling over, before we were finally smart enough to tie string around it as an anchor. One year it dumped water all over the presents and my older brother volunteered to re-wrap everything. Mum turned him down.
  • The years I have spent Christmases away from home (only 3 times, as it is quite hard to pry me away at Christmas): 1985, when we were away on "The Big Trip" and spent Christmas in Melbourne, Australia. We hung our regular socks for Santa, who brought us some foreign treats. 2003, when my mother and younger brother spent xmas with my older brother and nephew. I'll never forget the dance my nephew did as he came downstairs to see what Santa brought. 2007, when I spent Christmas in California. My husband did a wonderful job making it feel Christmasy for me. He bought a small artificial tree, put up some lights, and I brought our stockings with me.
  • 2005, my first Christmas with John. It was his first time seeing that much snow, and he had a blast making a snowman, snow angels, and plotted building a fort. He also learned the joys of shoveling snow.
  • This year was Romy's first Christmas with us. I thought he would be pretty excited by the tree, bows, paper, and ribbon. Instead, he was excited by the watering can, and a PBS Nature special on Christmas in Yellowstone Park, featuring a fox that he became enthralled with watching.

Friday, December 11, 2009


The feeling has hit me again the last couple of days: winter is coming. The post-Christmas season of cold, snow, wind, darkness, and loneliness. I don't have SAD, but I do get increasingly uneasy as the thought of January and February draw closer. The feeling seems to get worse every year. This year I have a husband who's home to keep a fire on, and a cute kitty cat who sometimes allows me to spend time with him, but I still have that feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. Heavy coats, biting wind, bundling up just to run outside and back in, falling on ice, driving through dangerous conditions... I am not looking forward to this. I also have a trip to Florida in late February/early March. I'm excited for it, but it's not quelling the feeling. I will still have to deal with winter, no matter what, unless I leave Canada. That's not in the cards for the foreseeable future.

Winter is fun for those who enjoy outdoor activities. Since my main activity is walking, that's not something I want to do outside this time of year. I guess I need to concentrate on finding fun things to do when it's cold. Last year, a co-worker and I went skating at Lily Lake on our lunch hour, that was fun. John has also been asking since last winter to go skating, so I need to find him some skates. I used to enjoy sliding, so I should probably get a couple of sleds and introduce John to that as well. He is still catching up on all of the snow-related activities he missed from growing up in a desert. Maybe if I can tap into his enthusiasm, I will get more out of the coldest months.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

To quit or not to quit

My husband thinks I need a new hobby. Hobbies are supposed to be fun ways to spend your time, but knitting has not turned out that way for me. I find it stressful. My biggest problem seems to be that I misread patterns. I think it’s time to face the facts: I’m just not very good at it. Since I don’t seem to be capable of liking my work despite its faults, and get so angry when I make mistakes (which are frequent), I’m not sure what’s really in it for me.

I am still a beginner. All of these projects I’m doing are the first time I’ve tried different techniques. When I knit a scarf for myself, ran out of yarn, and ended up with an abruptly cut-off side, I adjusted for that the next time I used that pattern… but then it still didn’t come out looking right. I want to be able to do something right, if not the first, I’d hope the second time.

Other than misreading patterns, I think my other big mistake is always making things for others. I put too much stress on making gifts that must be nice, instead of practicing on stuff that’s just for me. I can still be annoyed with it, but at least I haven’t given a “Charlie Brown Christmas tree” to someone I care about.

I’m giving my husband’s suggestion some consideration. After I finish the Christmas presents I’m working on, I may think about hanging up the needles, at least for a while.