Am I the Grinch? Finding My Christmas Spirit in the Middle of a 7 Hour Drive

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

So if anyone knows where I put my Christmas spirit, if they could let me know, that would be great.

It all start harmlessly a few weeks ago, when during exams I became grumpy enough that when the overhead at the grocery store started playing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” I gave a good solid mental fist shake at the sky. Ain’t nothing wonderful about exam season. I am glad that I don’t have to worry about school much over the holidays, but exams are a total holiday buzz kill. Christmas

Then a few days later as “Santa Clause is Coming to Town” came on the radio, my neighbour walked out of the house in his full Santa suit and gave me a merry wave.

After we got close to 40 cm of snow in 72 hours, I realized that whoever wrote “White Christmas” and “Let it Snow” had a very strange sense of humour and clearly wasn’t from Canada. I was no longer dreaming of a white Christmas. I had one. The snow factory exploded. And if I had to shovel one more time I was probably going to just curl up in the corner and cry.

snow everywhereI am finally back in the Village again. Over 7 hours later. By about hour 3 when I was finally approaching Belleville I switched my iPod to continuously play “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and remembered every Christmas movie I had ever seen. The cat meowed along. By hour 6 I was wishing she came with a pause… wait no… paws button ;).

I had a lot of time to meditate on Christmas and the joy and magic of the season, so most of this was written in my head somewhere between Ottawa and Barrie.

And while I still am not totally in the spirit (sorry Shauna), I realized a few things in the last few weeks.

See for me, all the magic kind of died a bit. I wrote back in October about how sad it is that I don’t actually get excited about leaves anymore because all it means is another chore to be done. This transformed into the winter edition when I realized, while I used to be overjoyed with snow because it meant building snowmen and playing in the giant mountain of snow (I lived on a court as a child, it was wonderful), I now saw it as something that had to be shoveled. Something that was going to make driving a pain in the nutcracker. I didn’t even decorate my house this year because I knew I was going home and I didn’t want to have to take all the decorations down. There was no advent calendar, I just gorged freely on Hershey kisses for 3 weeks. Now that I’m a big kid I just buy a massive bag of chocolate and eat it alone with a glass of wine. Classy. And when did I become too old to believe in Santa? When did Christmas morning involve a shower BEFORE presents instead of getting up at 5 a.m. to watch cartoons?

And I got a little sad, because I realized that I really have grown up. I’ve swapped sweats and T’s for skinny jeans and blazers; juice was traded for coffee; I ask for kitchen appliances for Christmas. I shovel and rake and clean toilets all by myself. But I didn’t realize that in all those trade-ups, all the growing up and becoming a mature adult, I had sort of lost track of my inner child. The part of me that gets excited about any holiday, and jumps on the bed, and plays games. I still make Harry Potter references like it’s my day job (my very poorly paying day job), I love to play with my nephews, and I get excited over the little things (like Winter Carnival k-cups), but sometimes I let the big stuff get in the way of enjoying the little stuff. Or you know in the way of Christmas.

Fortunately, my neighbour came to the rescue (ironic due to his being a professional Santa). Saturday night we got 10-15 cm of snow, knowing I had to work I set out shoveling. I got about 3/4 of the way done when Larry came out and told me that he would snow blow the driveway in the afternoon after his Santa gig. I explained that I had to work, but he assured me I could gun it out of the driveway. About 20 minutes later the plow went by. Shoving about a foot and a half of wet, heavy, snow onto the end of my driveway. And then about 5 minutes later I saw Larry out there with his snow blower. He did my side first so I could go to work.

And I was all warm and fuzzy with the thought of his kindness.

I made it into work, where we had (have?) a promotion going on where you can buy “Chance” or “Lucky” (stuffed cats and dogs) for $5 that would both support PetSmart Charities AND kids at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). Since I thought any kid that’s stuck in hospital at Christmas could use some cheer I made it my personal mission to build a mountain of donated Chance and Lucky toys in our shipping area. At about 15 toys I hardly had a mountain, but you’d be surprised how many people donated the toy to CHEO AND Donated more at checkout, or who said no to the toy but then donated at the cash, or who at least bought the toy and kept it. And it made me just a little more in the Christmas spirit (I think I was alarming my coworkers with my enthusiasm though). What warmed my heart even more was when my manager told me about how a woman in Cornwall had received a huge inheritance and went into the PetSmart in Cornwall and bought and donated all 125 Chance/Lucky’s.

People are so awesome sometimes.

Driving home, I looked at all the trees, and it was beautiful. Absolutely stunning. Anyone who lives anywhere where it snows, knows exactly what I am talking about. The glittering beauty on a sunny day after a massive snow and ice storm (just don’t look down at the dirty snow). This beauty came at a price though – it meant that there was ice. A lot of ice. In Ottawa I had complained about the 10-15 cm of snow and the freezing drizzle that coated my shovel, but I didn’t realize how bad it was in Toronto. The first clue was when I finally stopped for food in Newcastle and was sorely disappointed when I discovered that the power had gone out 10 minutes before. Thus no food. It was eerie driving through the city with half the lights on the highway off and several of the massive buildings black. I turned the radio away from my sad reflection on how long the drive was taking to 680News for the news and traffic information. And a little bit more of the Christmas spirit crept in.

Taken from Global's Photo Gallery (here) of the Toronto Ice Storm

Taken from Global’s Photo Gallery (here) of the Toronto Ice Storm

See I was complaining about a hellish drive home, but many people in the GTA are still without power (since Saturday), and some of them would have to wait until late boxing day to get power and heat back. I’m complaining about a slow drive, and some people might not even have heat or a warm meal and have been sitting around in the cold twiddling their thumbs for the last 3 days (though we had a situation like this when I was in high school and it just made my parents and I connect a bit more, when you can’t watch TV, you have no choice but to connect. So maybe there’s the silver lining?). I love our Christmas morning traditions. All of which require electricity. Waffles, bacon, lights, Christmas music, turkey feast. All depend on power. Ottawa, the US and other areas sent in hydro workers to help restore power to the approximately 200 000 people without hydro in the GTA.

Hydro Worker 2

Photos taken from here and there (Pretty cool gallery) This is dangerous work for these guys. Thank you for being so awesome.

Photos taken from here  (top) and there (Pretty cool gallery, bottom)
This is dangerous work for these guys. Thank you for being so awesome.

Which is warming enough on it’s own, since now 350 families in Ottawa, plus however many others from the areas that sent workers, will be without their loved ones on Christmas day. These folks gave up their holidays to try and cheer up someone else’s. Warm and fuzzy to the max. Apparently more than 1400 workers in Toronto, including 300 who canceled their vacations to come back and help, have been working 16 hour days to restore power. I get that people are frustrated by how slow power has been to return, but from what I saw, there’s a lot of ice, and there are a lot of people personally sacrificing, to try and make sure that everyone has a warm and happy Christmas. So warm and fuzzy. 

Thanks Humanity.

Hightop and my beautiful mamma working hard (or hardly working...)

Hightop and my beautiful mamma working hard (or hardly working…)

So maybe I’m not fully in the spirit yet, but I am excited for waffles tomorrow and I’m glad that humanity is being so awesome lately. I’m also at the Industrial Safety Trainer’s Office PJ party. So I guess I could be in the Christmas spirit a bit…

P.S. Check out here for my fantastic waffles, Scouts’s Honour I’ll post it before dinner time tomorrow!

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