some vacation!

When you're a rural telecommuter, being locked out is a lonely business.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

northward, ho!

Everyone that celebrates Christmas has some meaningful event that marks the beginning of the season: the first Advent, the lighting of the municipal tree, the Charlie Brown Christmas special on TV. Egg nog. The Canadian Tire flyer. Whatever.

The annual CBC reading of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol has become the real beginning of the season for me. In years past, I've been a bit of a humbug about the whole commercial Christmas culture. Still am, actually. But the readings always help dispell that seasonal feeling of spiritual disconnect for me.

I've had the pleasure of reading for the benefit of several charitable groups in towns across Ontario over the last several years: my home town of Durham, neighbouring Walkerton, Orillia and Mississauga come to mind.

Despite the archaic language and despite the vague discomfort of being trussed-up in fancy clothes and heels, I'm always moved at these events. I usually tear up during the last stave, even though I've known since I was a child exactly how it was going to end. Forgive me if I overstate things, but I find these readings transcendental. (Being a pragmatist, I have to consider that maybe it's just the flickering candles, the bum-numbing wait on hard church pews, and the turkey-induced sleepiness brought on by the requisite pre-reading "Christmas dinner" all conspiring to play tricks on my state of conciousness...).

Childhood Christmases for me often meant going north. Regular family trips to Timmins around the solstice have imprinted in me the memories of long, still walks down mining roads in the nostril-freezing cold and mugs of foamy hot chocolate after. No picture-perfect holiday card can compete with my own memories of blue-black skies festooned with stars and a moon so bright that diamonds twinkled on purple-shadowed snow.

Imagine my excitement when I found out that I've been invited to read The Christmas Carol in Goose Bay, Labrador on December 2nd. To paraphrase Sook-Yin Lee (whose trip to Happy Valley-Goose Bay made for one of the best DNTO shows in years), WHOOHOO!

I'm so glad I bought that little rabbit-fur-trimmed wool jacket last week. Now I just need to replace my 13-year-old Sorels and parka - they've earned their retirement.

For those of you closer to home (my home, anyway), I'll also be reading in Owen Sound on December 11th.

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