I am standing in the middle of the pedestrian bridge that spans the river connecting the east and west end of the city, just before the rolling plains leading to the foothills and the Rockies begin.
I can see where I was standing as I sit at my desk now.
It is early. The sky a grey covered cloudy blanket full of misty, snow-filled moisture.
The world is quiet. Calm. Serene.
There is no traffic on the separate vehicle bridge on the far side of the one on which I stand. No sign of pedestrians on this one either other than one bicycle track that had ploughed through the snow earlier than even my morning saunter.
I shake my head at the thought of someone riding their bike through the snow and am reminded of my friend J.H. who no matter the temperature or conditions, rides his bike everywhere. All year-round. We worked together for several years and some mornings when the wind was howling and the snow blowing, he would arrive at work looking like the Abominable Snowman. It never deterred him. It was one of the things he had to do to help save the planet, he said.
I helped save my sanity yesterday.
I unplugged. Mostly.
Other than FaceTime with my daughter and family, and a check in with La GrandeFamille in France and India via WhatsApp, I kept my online time to the bare minimum.
It was self-preservation. The Christmas blues lurked. Real close. And, without the excitement of preparing to receive family and friends for dinner, the slope into self-pity yawned before me with its alluring view into oblivion.
To keep myself from heeding its siren’s call, I kept myself out of the Christmas chatter that fills my Social Media feeds.
The messages are all so beautiful but yesterday, it kept reminding me of how different (and strange) this Christmas was.
I had awoken early. 4:30 am. At 5, when a girlfriend text to wish us Merry Christmas, I was still awake. I text back a few times and then lay in bed debating about getting up. At 6, my Auntie Maggy called from India. We laugh and chattered and when we hung up, I was wide-awake. I decided to get up.
I wandered through the house. Turned on Christmas lights and music. Bundled up and took Beamont the Sheepadoodle for an early morning wander.
The world was quiet. The sky midnight blue. The river flowed with its normal winter chatter. A Canada Goose honked somewhere in the dark.
The world was as it usually is early on a Christmas morning, though this was a very different kind of Christmas.
C.C. still made his Finnish pancakes but we packaged them up to deliver to his son and girlfriend who, because they live on her parents property would be having dinner in her family bubble.
We still cooked a turkey but instead of sharing it crowded around a table of family and friends, we packaged it up in the late afternoon and delivered it to my daughter’s for The Great Exchange between my daughter, sister and us.
Like soldiers in the trenches on Christmas Day of 1914 who carried out an unofficial truce and crossed the no-man’s land between them to exchange Christmas wishes and even gifts, we approached one another, holding out our packages like peace offerings in a time of war. Except our enemy is an invisible microbe that does not announce itself with guns blazing but slips in undetected until it’s too late to take up arms again.
After The Great Exchange, we drove to dear friends, stood at their front door and from a distance, wished them Merry Christmas and left behind a container full of turkey dinner and fixin’s to enjoy. When we returned home, I made up a heaping plate of turkey dinner and took it to a neighbour. Her husband has been ill. She wasn’t up to cooking a turkey dinner, she’d told me earlier in the day when I’d dropped off a Christmas card and ornament at their door.
And that’s where the Christmas Spirit prevailed. In the small acts of kindness we could share wholeheartedly with one another.
There are still gifts under the tree that haven’t been unwrapped. The roasting pan sits on the kitchen counter waiting to be put away. The dining room table is still set for two, a lonely reminder of the different circumstances of this Christmas. Like year’s past though, there are left-overs in the fridge. The pot of soup we started making last night sits on the deck chilling.
And through it all, woven like threads of gold in a tapestry lovingly crafted by the hands of the many lives that touch ours day in and day out, is the Love that binds us, sustains us, fills us up.
I unplugged from the virtual world yesterday to spend time savouring the magic all around me.
Just as the virus finds little room to create its havoc when we take loving measures to keep our distance, there was no room for the blues to take up residence in my heart. It was too full of the love and joy of the spirit of this season.
May the sacred nature and giving grace of the spirit of Christmas embrace you and your families. May the New Year bring all of us great joy, good health and the closeness that comes without Covid in our midst.