Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Ho, ho, ho

Well, this is a Christmas Eve to remember. So far, it's right up there with the New Years I spent alone with stomach cramps after learning that just because I can eat the whole thing does not in any way mean I should.

I'm not sure if I mentioned it here, but I've chosen to spend X-Mas in Ontario rather than going home to see the family. Some family members were planning on doing their own thing anyway, and between the Toronto wedding and the Saskatoon wedding earlier this year, I had pretty much blown my travel budget. And maybe, just maybe, I'd finish the dissertation if I stayed behind.

Well, that didn't happen. Granted, I've been writing constantly, and it's a quality and quantity higher than  I usually do, even during regular days, let alone holiday time. But it's a long way from being finished yet. I look at the amassed pages, ask myself if I made the right choice, and I'm not sure what the answer is.

On the other hand, I can say without any measure of ambivalence that I have made some wrong choices today--or rather, yesterday, I guess. See, my roommate, being a kind and generous soul, offered to let me eat Christmas Eve Dinner with her family. They were even providing a special vegetarian dish for me, which is an incredibly thoughtful thing to due. Alas, due to a series of unfortunate events, it looks unlikely that this will come to pass.

I woke up today at 10 am, still unsure exactly when and where everything today would go down. I should have asked the roommate last night, but, well, I forgot. Surely, I thought, there were will be plenty of time today. But she was already gone when I got up, so I missed an opportunity there. Well, that was fine; I had to be going too, as I was cat-sitting for a friend who didn't decide to spend Christmas thousands of kilometers from her family. Anyway, I left at 11, leaving behind a note asking her to contact me with the plan.

I get back just before 3 pm; It's about an hour of walking, there and back, and I like to spend a little time with the cat while I'm there. There's evidence my roommate has come and gone, but no evidence she saw my note, as it is still lying in the same place. At this point, I'm starting to get somewhat worried. I vaguely recall the plan was to start at 4 or 5, and the clock is ticking down. So I immediately leave a facebook message for the roommate, leave a voice message on her smartphone, and leave a facebook message for her sister for good measure. All of which says basically the same thing: I'm at the house, I'm ready, let me know what's going on.

Four o'clock rolls around. Four fifteen. I know she has my number, so if she got concerned, she'd be able to contact me. I try her phone again, and that's when I realize she left the phone on the coffee table in the living room. Bending if not breaking the rules of roommate propriety, I spend another fifteen minutes working up the courage, and then check the phone for her sister's number, and give it a call. No one answers, and I leave another voicemail.

I continue to dither. The important thing when people miss connections, I tell myself, is to make as many points of contact as possible, then stay in one place. And stay in one place I did. Until five.

At this point, I realize that no one is coming for me. On their end, they probably thought I bailed at the last minute on account of nerves (which is reasonable, given I've skipped out on other large family gatherings of theirs I've been invited to, albeit with more notice) or there were crossed wires, and they thought I was spending X-Mas supper with them rather than X-Mas Eve, and I thought the inverse. But at any rate, what was clear at this point was if I was going to get there, I'd have to go myself. That shouldn't be too hard, I reasoned. After all, I had been there just yesterday for breakfast. Surely my spatial memory is good enough that I can remember how to walk somewhere I was driven to the day before.


In my defense, it is now 5:30, growing dark, and friggin' cold; at -22 with windchill, it's colder than it's been all winter up to this point. And so I give up, and head back home. And it's not the cold that bugs me on the way back, or getting lost. It's that I have to go back through a residential area, where it seems like in every single window, there's a family sitting down for a Christmas meal. Standing out there, looking in, I feel like I'm living the down beat of an X-Mas special. Three ghosts could have shown up at any time. I reach home and I'm feeling very cold, very tired, and very alone.

And then my roommate calls, and everyone's looking for me, and they pick me up and drive me over and I eat the delicious 3 kinds of mushroom veggie meal and we all watch the original Christmas Carol and it's pretty good but not as good as the Muppet X-Mas Carol and I go home and phone my parents and wish them a happy holiday.

Happy holidays.

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