Thursday, December 22, 2011

remembrance reflections

the holiday season will forever be a number of things to me:

1. being on a bus to chicago in the dead of winter when i was 21. for some reason, this whole experience from december 2004 really sticks out in my mind; i think it's probably because it was one of the craziest things i'd done to date, and it had been absolutely worth it. for some reason, i mostly remember the fact that i was stuck on an overly warm greyhound bus for about fifteen hours due to the terrible weather and road conditions, and then i had to sit by myself in the freezing detroit bus station at four in the morning. but, you know, worth it.

2. i was really "discovering" music for probably the second time during this december in 2004, and there was absolutely nothing that i loved more on this earth. i was buying up all the music magazines (another thing i associate with the holiday season: the nme yearbook, which i don't think they produce any longer, sadface), i was just getting into my music journalism, and i was still at the point in my life when i'd happily trot off to see a beloved band in another city. (i missed a lot of university classes in those days.) this was also the last of my innocence, because shortly after this, i'd begin my first sort-of relationship with a sort-of big time musician, which would lead into another relationship with another musician, and so on, and so forth, unto now. so, that chicago trip and that holiday season are also earmarked in my memory as being the last days of harmless musician love. it all got a bit dark from there on.

2. shitty lo-fi songs by the sisters of mercy. i had gotten into the "newer" sisters stuff in a big way while living in vancouver in 2007, and when i came back to ontario for christmas, i pounced on a cd i'd left behind at my mother's -- a copy of some girls wander by mistake that adam had made for me. and that album is fucking incredible -- a 1992 compilation of a bunch of their early tracks from various vinyl releases in 1980-1983. (i was born in 1983, which blows my mind when i listen to this stuff.) like i said, they're not very good quality and aren't polished whatsoever, but it's a perfect portrait of a band in its nascent phase, with a dark horizon ahead. ever since that bleak but unexpectedly bright holiday in 2007, "floorshow," "heartland" and "adrenochrome" always get a ton of airtime from me during the christmas weeks. not exactly traditional seasonal cheer, i know, but it's my type of seasonal cheer.

3. party times with good friends. for the last few years, one of my group of friends has hosted a holiday party for our social circle, and it's become something i associate with the season. for example, here's the wine and cheese party that jenna and i threw in 2008, and last year there was a smashing new year's eve get-together. just last friday, there was a fun gathering with a lot of booze, brie and general bonhomie.

requisite cute dog photo -- the host & hostess's adorable pupper, marlow:

that leads into a side point: what i've come to be really thankful for this year is my friends. i've mentioned before that i didn't have a lot of friends growing up, and that's very much the truth -- i was one of those weird insular kids who kept to themselves. that still holds true today, actually; the difference now, though, is that when i'm alone, it's by choice, not by default. i don't have to worry any more about having nobody there for me. boyfriend aside, i have a great core group of friends (male and female) and any number of good acquaintances, both online and off. it's something i never try to take for granted, given how lonely i was as a kid and how desperate i was for even one close friend. now i have a number of them, and that fills me with warm fuzzies.  (plus, i'm at the adult age now where friendships stick, and they're a hundred times more genuine and trustworthy than they were when i was younger. that alone is cause for celebration.)

4. anniversary. the boy's and my anniversary is december 26th, 2007 - although we didn't make it official until february 4th, 2008 - and though i'm typically not back from kingston until after boxing day, we generally try to mark the occasion by recreating our first "date" (though it was really more of a hangout): nachos and beer at sneaky dee's. we missed it last year (maybe that's why things didn't go so well in 2011?), but here's an example from 2009. we're aiming to do it up again probably next wednesday or thursday -- a couple days late, yes, and i'm not sure how much more indulgence my hips will be able to take (nachos are my kryptonite), but i want 2012 to have an extra dose of good relationship karma. it'll be our fifth year together, holy shit.

5. watching love actually. i don't have a whole lot of holiday traditions (aside from the above-mentioned sisters of mercy mania), but somehow watching love actually has become one of them. this isn't something you'd typically expect from me; i despise rom-coms as a rule, and i recall not being too impressed with this movie the first time i saw it (which i'm pretty sure was christmas 2004 -- again! that year was a big one). i think it had something to do with the fact that not all the storylines are wrapped up at the end, and there is so much suspension of disbelief that has to take place. but once you learn to just forget about all that, it's a really cute little chestnut of a movie. sure, it's soppy as fuck and like i said, most things work out in absolutely improbable ways, but oh well. bill nighy is awesome.

6. trader joe's holiday goodies. i'm listing this in hopes that it does become a yearly tradition for me. please, please.

and that about wraps it up. basically, i've spent the last ten years in toronto for the holiday season (minus one year that was spent in vancouver) and it really feels like a wonderful time of year. yes, i'm one of those christmas nerds.

it is a bit scary, though, since i feel - and i know - that time is running out on what i know to be my yearly holiday tradition of going to kingston, staying overnight on christmas eve, opening presents with my family in the morning, having brunch together and then a big christmas dinner. time's running out because none of us are "the kids" any more (in fact, this will be the first year where none of us still live at home), and because my mother and stepfather are getting older and less obligated to keep things up for "the kids' sakes". eventually, there's going to come a year when either they can't do it or don't want to do it, or maybe it'll be a year where i say i want to do something different, and maybe stay in toronto or go abroad for christmas instead. (i don't plan on having a family of my own, or else that would probably force me into starting a new routine.)

no matter what, though, i get the sense that these are the last days, because we're all growing up and moving on. whether or not that extends to christmastime traditions remains to be seen, though, i guess.

on that downer of a note, i'm off -- i've got one more day of doing stuff here in the big city (aka getting in some gym time before a date night with the boy), and then this time tomorrow i'll be on the train to kingston, so i'll be more or less occupied for the next few days with the christmastime stuff and family visiting stuff and all that. thus, i wish you all the very best of a holiday season, and hope you find lots of fun stuff under the tree on sunday morning. i'll be back shortly afterward with holiday updates and recaps, et cetera.

merry christmas dear readership!

[ music | the chameleons uk, "nostalgia" ]


A Cuban In London said...

Merry Christmas to you, too, and to the "boy", as your most recent Johnny-come-lately.

Greetings from London.