It’s been a weird holiday season for Neil and I, and until yesterday the only Christmassy thing we had done so far was go to my workplace’s Christmas party.
Okay, okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. In August we paid for flights to visit my family in Ontario, and then last month I ordered most of the gifts for our families off of Amazon.ca or Amazon.com. We also picked up our own gifts early (we have a system: rather than each of us try to guess what the other wants, we set a dollar amount and then just get ourselves whatever we want).
But we didn’t listen to Christmas music and, because we weren’t going to be in town for Christmas and because I was afraid our two little dogs would knock it over, we didn’t put up our tree. My parents’ home is always decorated enough for two houses anyway, so being with them for the days leading up to Christmas would help us get in the holiday mood.
You can’t plan for everything
It was a good plan, but it all got derailed this week when Neil got sick. Our flights were set to leave at 7:00 am on Monday, but Neil got really sick on Sunday. As if the vomiting and headache weren’t bad enough, he ended up with a fever that was so bad I started to get afraid. He was in no shape to travel and I didn’t feel comfortable leaving him. It was hard at the time because I didn’t know what would be the right thing to do. If it was a 24-hour bug he would probably be okay to fly–do I cancel or not? The customer service agent I spoke with from Air Canada advised deciding in the morning, but I spoke with Neil’s mum who wisely said that if I was pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to travel, I should just go ahead and cancel and get a good night’s sleep.
She was right. I got my sleep and in the morning Neil’s fever was gone, but he was still in no condition to travel. I was relieved that I had made the right decision and that I had my family and godson’s gifts delivered to my parents’ house so everyone would still have their gifts for Christmas morning. So I took a few hours, mourned the loss of my trip and time with my family, and moved on. Neil and I would still have 12 days off in a row together, and there’s no reason why we couldn’t enjoy them.
Neil remained sick for another 4 days or so, which meant two things: I made a big batch of purple soup (I really should have peeled the purple off the carrots before throwing them in the pot with the rest of the ingredients!) and we watched a whole lot of Netflix. I left the house once to go to Planet Organic, but other than that we didn’t go anywhere until yesterday when we came to Neil’s parents’ place.
A Calgary Christmas
When it became clear that we wouldn’t be heading to Ontario, I said I wanted to stay over with Neil’s parents. We’ve spent the last two Christmases with them and I love waking up at their house and heading down to the main floor in my pyjamas for present opening and bacon rolls. If I couldn’t be with my parents at Christmas, this was the only other place I wanted to be.
The house is beautiful with both trees up, but it still didn’t feel quite like Christmas. We had a lovely dinner together and settled down to watch Whitechapel. It was excellent (review forthcoming), but after watching all three hours of the first season, I don’t think Diana or I were ready to go to bed–I know I was a little afraid of dreaming about serial killers. So the two of us then tucked in on the couches with some duvets, got a whole bunch of chocolate at the ready and set down to watch White Christmas.
The Christmas movie I needed
And that’s what did it. Watching White Christmas finally made it feel like the holidays. It’s long been my favourite Christmas movie, and growing up it was probably one of my top 10 movies. My paternal grandmother got me interested in musicals (I think I was the only six year old in the 80s who demanded to watch Betty Grable movies), and this was one of them, so watching it last night gave me a connection to home that I needed.
It’s hard to predict the way things will go sometimes, which can mean it’s hard to know what will make Christmas feel like Christmas. But sitting back and watching that movie made me feel like a little kid again and reminded me that Christmas is about family, whether near or far, alive or dead. And that means that even if I’m missing Ontario this Christmas, I’m grateful for my Calgary Christmas too.