Daily Archives: December 23, 2003

Seasonal Skewing

As last night was the official longest night of the year, we lit our candle in our wind lantern and set it on the dresser in my room, and fell asleep.

My husband woke me up at some unearthly hour in the night from a dream that was a vivid cross between Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings.

“We have to put the candle out,” he said. “The smoke detector in the room is giving off beeps.”

Without waking up completely, I pinched out the flame, tried to open the window, couldn’t, mumbled at my husband to do it, and sat in bed while he opened it.

“Better to open the outside window too instead of hoping the cross-draft does it,” I said.

“Er,” he said, “this is the outside window. See? Screen.” He pushed his hand against the window and lo and behold, it was screening bending beneath his fingers, and not glass.

“It’s not cold enough,” I said stupidly.

“Welcome to Canada’s banana belt,” he said. “Want to sleep with the window open?”

So we did.

It was just strange.

On Going Home

There’s something odd about going home for the holiday season as an adult. Sure, my parents now live in a different province, in a house that features in absolutely zero of my childhood memories, but there’s more to it. My parents seem to look forward to having us here, but sometimes I wonder why. I arrive with laundry to do, change their radio stations, have classical music on all the time, and light candles. I either sleep at odd times, or hide in a corner with a book, or go out to roam Oakville (they have a remarkable invention here called parking lots, making shopping a much less harrowing experience).

I look forward to coming here. There’s something terribly comforting about having familiar meals served to you by your mother. Sometimes they’re new meals instead, which I look forward to discovering just as much because my mother is a fabulous cook. Last night we had slow-cooked lamb shanks with polenta, which was divine. Some things are best left to discovering as an adult. Had my mother served me polenta as a child, I would have pushed it around my plate until it got stone cold and even less appealing, tasted a speck and decided it was too much like oatmeal, which I hated. (I’m still not fond of oatmeal; it’s something about the texture. Thin or thick, I just really have to be in the mood, and it needs plenty of salt.)

For the second year in a row, my parents haven’t put up the Christmas tree; they put white fairy lights on their six-foot-tall silk fig in the corner and gather gifts underneath it instead. I don’t have any seasonal decorations up at home, either, which might have contributed to my lack of holiday cheer. Christmas seems to have arrived awfully quickly, something like all that snow at home.

The drive down was a breeze. The three feet of snow that the Montreal city crews are ignoring gradually vanished as we drove west, disappearing completely by a half-hour past Cornwall. I’ve been going about in my cardigan over a t-shirt outside here. Last night I woke up to the sound of rain hitting the roof and the window. I had forgotten how much I love that sound.

Tonight after dinner we have a date with some popcorn and The Return of the King; tomorrow we pick up our borrowed printer and do the official seasonal dinner and the ritual opening of gifts. For the rest of this afternoon, though, I think it’s going to be dozing with a book and perhaps a Maine Coone cat.