The big old pine tree outside my office window looks like a flashback to an early 1970s Christmas when those cans of spray snow were popular and some drunken uncle would go overboard coating every branch of their tree with the sticky fluff, likely made of chemicals that would be banned today.
(Nope… so wrong, it still exists, and appears to be popular, given how many sites seem to be sold out of it. I’m not sure if that makes me happy or worriedly bemused.)
In any case, the real stuff, on the real tree outside, hangs in huge fluffy clumps. It’s perfect snowball snow, and I want to reach out and grab a handful, but the tree is too far from the window.
As the sun rises in the sky and shines directly on the tree, the snow reflects blindingly. Then… plop, the snow on each branch is warmed just enough that it melts slightly and slips down the long needles to the ground below.
Soon the branches will spring back up, no longer heavy under the weight of nature’s first attempt at holiday decorating.
I like winter less that I used to. It makes my bones ache now, and my little dog hates the snow and cold, making walks more of a chore and less of an adventure. But there’s still something magical about that first snowfall; no matter how much traffic it bungs up, or how cold it gets along with it; when the first snow of the year arrives with such drama, it’s hard not to find some joy and beauty in it.
By the end of the day, the tree will have lost its snowy flocking. A rise in temperatures tomorrow and rain the next day will quickly disappear nature’s grand gesture before it becomes too tedious. But I will appreciate it while it’s here. Because the second snowfall (or the eighteenth) is never quite as gorgeous.
Five months, two weeks, three days… Louis Prima would have been Covid-ready, singing his way through this mess, Keely Smith by his side. Because how the projected time frame for this thing has chanced since March.
Now, a reasonable person would have been skeptical back then when our governments told us it would all be over in three weeks. We knew then, even if we were being told different, that this thing would take months to get under control.
And when the timeline extended to months, we all went, yeah, we knew that, and figured (optimistically) that it would be done by Christmas.
You crazy kids have been hitting the 2012 edition of this post so much (there wasn’t one last year), my site stats are going to be pitiful come December 26th. But it seems that there are an awful lot of you out there who have no intention of sitting around with the family wearing those silly hats that come in the Christmas crackers, and who instead want to have someone else do the cooking and cleaning for you on the big day.
I have concentrated on downtown Toronto, but if you’re in the burbs, I think David Ort of Post City is planning a list with a wider range. Even though my list is cross-referenced and confirmed, I’d still recommend calling to book a reservation at anything other than the most casual places, and reservations are required for any of the hotel restaurants.
Does the “bumbumbum” of Bing Crosby send shivers of fear down your spine? Do you secretly hope that when the little girl pulls Santa’s beard that it will come off and expose him as a fake? Maybe you even hope that Ralphie really will shoot his eye out with that BB gun. You, my friend, have Christmas movie fatigue. What hides under the guise of tradition mostly means getting stuck watching the same five movies every single holiday season, year after year after year. Apparently some people find comfort in this, but few movies are good enough to warrant such reverence – or repeated viewings. So here are a few truly alternative alternatives, most of which can be ordered from Amazon, or found online for download if you’re into that sort of thing.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no! Sweet little baby Jesus who I do not believe in, please, if you really exist, make this stop.
Unless, you know, it’s like that Billy Idol Christmas album where he obviously recorded it drunk and messed up all the words. In that case, we could give it one listen, just for shits and giggles. But otherwise, no.
Only in Toronto would we stop food getting to the poor because of wads and wads of red tape. Seriously, some 13 years after amalgamation, why do we still have 4 or 5 sets of bylaws on the books? Shouldn’t this have been one of the first things that was actually amalgamated? Meanwhile, poor people living in food deserts don’t get to enjoy the services of a mobile grocery truck because we can’t figure out which set of goddamned rules applies. WTF, people. [Toronto Star]
In the future, breadfruit will be the new potatoes. [Wall Street Journal]
If food bank usage can be considered a bellwether for the shape of the economy, we’re still not doing as well as we’d like. [Globe and Mail]
It’s fairly common knowledge that the UK has higher rates of alcoholism than North America, but who knew that kids were drinking more than the weekly consumption recommendations for adults – on a regular basis? [Telegraph]
We went to the Festival of Lights Solstice parade last night. Which I guess is what you do if you’re not quite sure how else to celebrate the season but want to pay homage to nature, pre-Christian traditions or just generally like the sound of hippies banging drums. Because you can be sure that all the real Pagans and Wiccans who consider this an actual religious event were probably not standing around in Kensington Market last night watching people walk around with lanterns.
However, the idea of celebrating the Solstice is much more concrete to me than the birth of Jesus. Yes, I believe Jesus existed, but I’ve always taken umbrage with the idea that early Christians moved the celebration of his birth to coincide with Saturnalia and the Solstice to lure pagans to Christianity through the temptation of a bigger and better party. Almost all of the “traditional” Christmas traditions predate Christ.
Also, as someone who is really into food, sustainability, supporting farmers and enjoying the harvest, the Solstice as the huge year-end celebration just seems to make so much more sense. On the darkest day of the year, it is just so logical and down to earth to celebrate the returning of the sun, without which we could not survive. After a long year of harvesting, the Solstice celebration is not only a way to enjoy what has been reaped in the previous year but a way to look ahead to the the year and new crops and new conquests.
Not because I was ranting about how much I hate Christmas -I wasn’t and I don’t – but because I was ranting about the fact the people were complaining about having to do their Christmas shopping.
Now, I’m one of those annoyingly organized people. I make lists and check things off (much like the jolly old elf himself), and most people are not surprised to learn that I keep Christmas on a spreadsheet in my computer. That’s right – a spreadsheet. A workbook actually, with lists of what I bought for people, what they bought for me and what stuff I baked, how it turned out and who liked what (ie. no fruitcake for brother, extra Turkish delight for the folks).
I like to think I know what my recipients like and keep an eye open all year for appropriate gifts. That’s why my Grandmother’s gift was bought in August during a trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake, and that book for my brother was nabbed at a holiday book sale in 2008 at a publishers warehouse sale. Yes, that’s right… I buy Christmas gifts a year ahead.