22 December 2006

A good year

The shopping is done and I’m officially on holidays for the next 10 days. Current mood = ecstatic!

Looking back, it is hard to comprehend all that has happened over the past 12 months. This time last year, Daniel and I would faithfully visit the construction site of our would-be home. It’s hard to believe that last Christmas all we had was a hole in the ground; now we have a wonderful house that is truly starting to feel like home.

As 2006 draws to a close, I can’t help but feel a little emotional. It was an exhausting year but it was also a wonderful time that I will always look back on with many fond memories: the excitement building up to the move; the tiring job of setting up the house; watching countless buddies tie-the-knot, getting married to my best friend of seven years; getting to know my parents as a woman and starting an exciting new chapter of life.

In short, this year has made me realize how lucky I am. I’m truly happy! I feel as though I’ve reached some sort of invisible goal or desire that I never knew existed. For once, everything feels right in my life. It’s a wonderful feeling.

As Daniel and I celebrate Christmas this year, we will both breath a sigh of relief. We’ve come a long way! I have no doubt that 2007 will bring a whole new round of adventures for us, but I’m confident that it will be a great year…albeit a little more relaxing…thank God!

20 December 2006

Making sense of Christmas...

Am I the only one that is perplexed by this whole Christmas thing? The radio blurts out songs about perpetual happiness, sugarplums and jolly fat men. People shell out $$$ they don’t have on huge plastic lawn ornaments and twinkle lights.

Christmas is such a strange time of year. It’s almost as though we force ourselves into a false sense of conviviality and good cheer, wishing strangers “Happy Holidays!” as we plow through them in shopping malls in a desperate attempt to buy the latest gadgets for our loved-ones.

I must admit, I too get swept up in the so-called Christmas spirit, but have you ever stood back and truly examined people at this time of year?!? It’s frightening!

“Tidings of comfort and joy….?” “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…?” Where do people come up with this crap?

For many people, Christmas is one of the most difficult times of the year. It is often a painful reminder of the things or people that we no longer have in our lives. Parents put on brave faces as they assure their children that Santa got their letter, wondering all the while how they will be able to afford the season’s latest gimmick. To put it plainly, Christmas is not always as holly-jolly as Mr. Ives tells us.

Don’t get me wrong…I am not anti-Christmas in any way, shape or form. I love giving and receiving gifts like anyone else. But sometimes I can’t help but laugh at the utter ridiculousness of this time of year. Here’s the sad part…we’ve missed the boat entirely!

Where have the nativity scenes gone? Why are stores selling Santa tree toppers, rather than stars? What happened to the true meaning of the day? I’d be curious to know if the children of today even know what it’s all about…

I am ashamed to say that I have become just as guilty as the majority. I’ll take the time to scout out that perfect tacky novelty gift, yet I’ll opt out of Christmas mass. For a person who was born and raised Catholic, this is pretty terrible.

How did I and so many others get swept up by the all-consuming, money pilfering, version of Christmas? When did we start placing less faith in God, and more in the almighty buck and eight tiny reindeer?

Before you drive yourselves crazy or broke this holiday season, step back and think…am I making too much out of this whole day? Food for thought….

08 December 2006

Battle of the bulge

With Christmas just around the corner, the temptation to gorge on copious amounts of sugar-laden goodies is often overwhelming! From office parties, to family dinners and socials with friends, December is a veritable cornucopia of bad, yet irritatingly addicting, food.

Each year, I am a victim of holiday overindulgence - one truffle is never enough, sugar cookies are an excellent breakfast and candy canes are the perfect alternative to brushing one’s teeth after meals. Okay…maybe I’m exaggerating a little…

What is it about this time of year that clouds my usual ‘health-conscious’ tendencies? Where exactly does reality go? All of a sudden, it’s as though we enter a magical world of sugary delight where scales and vegetables no longer exist. Why do we mutter the words, “Ah sure, It’s Christmas…one more won’t kill me,” and think that our actions are justified?

This year I am fighting back! I am determined to overcome the all-consuming pressures of Christmas…pardon the pun.

Rather than spending hours spooning sugar and batter onto cookie trays, this year I’ll put my energy to good use at the gym. While others sip their fattening cocoa in front of the t.v., I’ll be rowing my way to a better body. I long to rid myself of the old oversized sweater, inevitably worn on the 25th to hide the effects of my overindulgence. I want to be able to smile sweetly and say, “No thank you, I don’t like Ferrero Rochers.”

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The battle of the bulge is a difficult undertaking at this time of year. It seems as though everything and everyone is plotting against me. I am surrounded by temptation wherever I am –colleagues shower me with treats at work, the t.v. taunts me at home with Swiss Chalet Festive Special adds…even the gym manages to promote fat-laden food! Does it seem strange that a cardio fitness room looks down on a snack bar that permeates the air with the scent of fries? So not cool!

It’s only December 8th, and I’m already starting to feel the strain! To make matters worse, my lovely (albeit annoying) husband decided that he should bring home a mammoth size bag of chocolate-covered almonds from Costco. Obviously, our definitions of “necessary” purchases differ drastically.

Pray for me. With a bit of luck and a truckload of willpower, hopefully I’ll get through this season relatively unscathed. The only chocolates I plan on eating, are the laughable portions that I get from my advent calendar each morning.

04 December 2006

A touch of nostalgia

It was yet another busy weekend for the newlyweds. With Christmas just around the corner, it looks as though we won’t be doing too much relaxing until 2007.

On Friday, we kicked off the weekend in fine fashion. Dan and I both worked overtime (grumble), then slowly inched our way home through the freezing rain. By the time we finally reached Orleans, I started to feel the nasty makings of a cold….perfect!

By seven o’clock we managed to sit down for a romantic meal of soggy stir fry and “less than spectacular” wine. As if all this wasn’t appetizing enough, the meal was accompanied by some wonderful snuffling noises, compliments of my runny nose.

So dinner was a bit of a bust...it happens. But this wasn’t going to deter me from my main goal of the evening – setting up the Christmas tree! Unfortunately, hubby had to submit a job application that evening so I was stuck flying solo for a while. No problem, I’m a seasoned veteran of the artificial tree setup!

I made some herbal tree, blasted the Christmas tunes and set myself to the monotonous task of unfolding hundreds of little wire branches. As I sat there, singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," the strangest feeling came over me. I was crying! Not soft or silent rolling tears…we’re talking full-on ugly crying!

It was as though reality suddenly hit me - I’m married…I have a house… I’m not at home for Christmas… I’m not a little girl anymore (although the crying may convince you otherwise). It was truly a strange sensation! All of a sudden I wanted to be a child again, safe in the comfort of my parents protective arms and not a care in the world.

My mother always warned me that I would have a weepy/ “freak out” moment some time after the wedding. I remember laughing when she told me about being in a similar situation shortly after she marraied my father. “Not me! Not ever!” was my credo. I remained dry-eyed on the day I left home and on my wedding day; it was a point of personal triumph. Now, over two months after the wedding, I'm sprawled at the base of my Christmas tree in a sickly, sobbing heap...pathetic!

It’s strange that something as simple as a Christmas tree managed to hit home. Perhaps it's just the whole feeling of nostalgia that this season seems to evoke? It felt strange to set up the tree without by mother by my side, the two of us belting out carols and inevitably arguing over the proper placement of tinsel. How was I to know that I would miss such things?

Poor Dan must have felt horrible. Of course I’m happy that we’re married! I’m really looking forward to creating our own memories and starting new traditions! But, for just a brief second, I was overcome with such a tremendous sense of loss. I guess this is why it is so important to enjoy every second of your childhood…because you’ll never get it back. On the plus side, I can look forward to the day when my own children will come along and hopefully be able to enjoy the things that I treasured so much.

After a quick boohoo nostalgia trip on the phone with mom, I dried my eyes and returned to the Christmas tree with a fresh perspective. Together, Dan and I placed the angel and the ornaments on the tree. When it came to the tinsel, I couldn’t help myself. “Don’t hang it like that for God’s sake….do it like this...” Some traditions just never die!

Once the decorations were complete, Dan shut off all the lights around the house and we sipped hot chocolate in front of our illuminated tree – our very first Christmas together…the first of many!

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