Consider this: wherever you are right now may be completely uprooted and transformed 12 months from now. Christmas may seem like it is full of immutable traditions that fill up the days in December year after year, but nothing is permanent.
Mother nature often reminds us of that, if not fate itself. Last year, I thought Christmas would be spent in Thailand. Hot weather, flip flops and juicy mangosteens. I’d miss times spent hitting the slopes of Nagano, Japan, but being in Thailand and not being cold for hours of the day in non-insulated rice-paper thin homes would make up for it.
Uprooted and then re-rooted back to the homeland: Canada. I found myself back in the town I was raised in the beginning of December 2013. There wasn’t as much snow as there is this year but it was still winter, and cold. I wasn’t impressed at first by this unexpected change of fate, and yet I had no choice but to embrace it.
Christmas spent with my family, and with nuanced traditions that shift with time and with people brought into and taken away from our lives. I have always tried to come home for the festivities at least every other year, and it’s my favourite occasion to spend quality time with family.
This year mother nature has thrown in her two-cents and left an impression
on many of the people in Ontario. The ice storm and resulting power outages have left many homes without power over the holidays. Some are having what the media is calling a “black Christmas” as a result of this “catastrophe”.
The ice storm has felled trees and damaged power lines. It’s a bit of a mess, but a catastrophe? Not really. If anything, it’s given people a taste of how mutable we are. Reliant on electricity for everything: it powers our smart phones, it’s used for cooking, it warms and lights the home, etc. We realize how fortunate we are to be able to rely on electricity –most of the time.
Last year, I spent from September to November in northern India and Nepal. Power is an unreliable privilege that flickers in and out during the hours of the day. It’s preferable to keep a head lamp handy in case you’re caught in the dark during an evening solar-power-heated shower or wandering through unlit streets trying to buy pomegranates from scamming fruit sellers.
Electricity, insulation and family are all things that I’m grateful for this year. Luckily, the power returned to my parent’s home on Dec. 24th, just in time to prepare for our annual Christmas Eve party.
Instead of cursing the ice storm, take advantage of the rare beauty it left behind. Beauty in the wreckage of broken branches and the sound of the weight that pressures the branches that crack in the wind. The sound of ice as it shatters like glass on the icy surface of the ground. Spot the squirrels carrying acorns or crap apples that have frozen into ice balls.
The way the sun hits the layers of ice on the branches of trees, it makes eachstreet look like it belongs locked in a perfect scene set inside a snow globe.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my friends and family in the world. I hope that wherever you are the world it is just as beautiful for you as it is here in Ontario.