Christmas 2021 – An Optimist’s Debacle

PART 1

Well…the word cock-up comes to mind when I think of this Christmas — 2021! Never mind Omicron, multiple issues arose to alter my very undemanding expectation of the day. Almost laughable…. almost.

The original plan to spend the first Christmas in six years with my son, was to secure a place near him, to cook and share a festive dinner. I secured a Port Moody sit with two cuddly felines in their comfortable home, my plan being to walk on the ferry and use public transit to get out to PM. However, after a transit ordeal when doing the same trip in November — exhausted and after a ferry walk-on, bus, Skytrain, grocery shopping and taxi ride (lugging a suitcase through the entire journey!) — I decided to treat myself to a 20 minute Harbour Air jaunt across the strait. Happily I reserved premium return tickets.

Pleased with my new plan, life buzzed along confidently, until news of the omicron variant emerged. Deciding that even the public transit journey from Vancouver Harbour to Port Moody was more than I felt comfortable with, plus having an aversion to lugging a heavy suitcase all that distance (heavy largely with groceries — think of the logistics of planning festivities but not wanting to grocery shop in Port Moody on the 24th of December!) weighed  upon me also (pun intended).

So a new (3rd) plan emerged — to drive over. To travel in my own personal capsule. I cancelled the flight reservations and made ferry reservations. About a day later I received the news of cancellation of the sit. My homeowners’ relatives in Ontario had covid so they would not be travelling. Undaunted, I sped into action on my iPad, checking out first last-minute sits, then AirBNBs. A hotel room would not do since I needed to cook. I found no suitable sits and no place under $200/night for mediocre digs. Although the shopping was already done and partially in the freezer, my plans to travel this Christmas came to a screeching halt. But it was still okay; I’m flexible, I can go with the flow. My son has a birthday next month.

A day or so later, I was awakened to a wracking cough coming from the other side of the bed. Overnight my guy had transformed into a barking, headachy, sniffly-nosed mess, tossing irritably under a weighty blanket of deep yet sleepless fatigue. We divided the house into upstairs (unsick) people and cats, and downstairs (sick) people, with masked delivery of food. If a covid test was as straightforward as Bonnie Henry described, it would have been completed that day. But after an hour or so on hold on the telephone, we were met with a message requesting that we leave a number for a call back. When finally the appointment was scheduled, it was for Christmas Day, a full two days later. After 24 hours of this malady, my guy was symptom-free, yet days remained before his test. He gritted his teeth and isolated.

Hoping for a positive test result to build his immunity, he set out a full hour ahead to give himself time to dig out the car. Did I mention it had been snowing nonstop for several days? Not having anticipated the resulting puddle of melted snow and sweat he would be after having shovelled, he stumbled back inside for a towelling down and full change before heading off to his appointment, late of course. The car performed beautifully on the slick and snowy roads! Yes! One for us.

Having profusely thanked the workers for their dedication for working on Christmas day, and being advised that his results would come by text in 24 to 48 hours, he returned home to a festive and much anticipated Christmas meal. It proved to be deliciously satisfactory. Stockings were exchanged, with chocolate making an ample showing. Another win for us!

As we relaxed into our Christmas success, we were shocked out of our pleasurable smugness by an abrupt plunge into darkness. The power was out. Of course. All that snowy beauty can not occur without consequence.

Ever resilient, we lifted our bodies into action, from their turkey-laden stupors. First thoughts were ‘Will we be able to find the pie and ice cream in the dark? Can we make tea during a power outage?’ Bumbling gingerly about, we felt blindly for flashlights and candles. Who prepares for such an emergency under the current burden of years of uncertainty (no doubt someone does and you know who you are). Eventually, and owing to dogged determination, flashlights and a gas range, pie, ice cream and tea happened. Mmmm, yet another success. (Although I could not help but notice that pie is quite different in the dark, proving that appearance is a palpable aspect of the gustatory experience.)

We slept (separately) with peaceful hearts and happy tummies, that is until, several hours later brought a return of blazing overhead lights to pierce our dreams.

Part 2

By morning, it was apparent that drifting snow had caused the upper deck to be dangerously deep with snow. I bundled up and went out to meet the bracing cold and shovel it clear. Birds fluttered hungrily about the feeder below, undaunted by the avalanche. 

I had been trying for days to make my snowy pond-side trudge before dawn and this day I would succeed. Magnificent beauty and icy sharp cold stung me awake as I gloried in the stillness that a deep blanket of snow can bring —‘peace beyond understanding’ epitomized. Moving soundlessly aloft clouds of snow gave me pause to wonder ‘had I died and gone to heaven?’ 

Ice & Snow Covered Pond

When I returned home to news that my guy had received negative result for Covid (a win!), it was a joy to know we would not have to isolate for another 10 days. Not that we particularly spend time socializing, but quarantine is up a notch from not having the neighbours over for egg nog. Win!

So life can now return to normal. Hm — will I never learn?