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some authentic holiday spirit

December 19, 2011

As a non-Christian and a wary consumer, I don’t dote on December.  I have 

dreaded Christmas at times, ignored it at other times. Some yuletides I’ve

white-knuckled until the solstice and the return of the light.  That’s a big deal

for me.  I simply don’t like short cold days.  And today starts the seven days

of the year with the least daylight.


It looks like I’ll get off easy this time around.  We’re having warmer weather

than usual, rain rather than snow.  And I had a great weekend.  It helps im-

mensely to be in the right place with the right person.


Jude and I went to the mainland Saturday for a huge potluck sponsored by the

Filipino community of Campbell River.  There were about 300 people there, in

good spirits despite the storm and flooding that has killed hundreds on Minda-

nao Island in their homeland.


A variety of native dishes filled the serving tables.  Traditional dances in tradi-

tional dress were danced, such as this one:

Jude and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  We went into town early before the event to do 

a bit of shopping.  Not gift-buying, mind you.  Manly shopping at Home Hardware.

She needed some rubber crutch tips for a holiday project at the hospital.  I priced

composite decking for a summer endeavour.


Crutch tips secured, we still had some time before the potluck.  So we strolled

through downtown, checking out some of the specialty shops.  I actually liked

observing the bustle in the shops, since I didn’t have to engage in it.  And I even

appreciated looking at shiny new things, knowing that I didn’t have to buy any.


Sunday morning we went to a brunch/fund raiser at Quadra’s beloved Heriot

Bay Inn:


As always, the Inn put out a first rate buffet, including smoked salmon rotini and

these goodies:


While the sellout crowd feasted on the food, several story tellers nourished

our minds with tales ranging from the hilarious to the heartbreaking.  The

group Quadra Voce performed in the wassailing tradition:


Another group — Toelle, Christi and Andrea — sang a yuletide favourite of

mine, Crosby, Stills and Nash’s “Helplessy Hoping”.  And all that with this

in the background:


As soon as we got home, we went to visit our neighbours Carol and Robert and

their 14+-year-old dog Sage.  This will likely be Sage’s last Christmas, but she

was of good cheer.  Carol and Robert had just returned from a bird-watching

tour of Taiwan.  They regaled us with an account of massive rock slides caused

by torrential rains in the mountains there.


Carol served a wonderful Taiwanese oolong tea and I marginally helped 

Robert upgrade their A/V system by culling from a manual that he should

not put the Klipsch speakers too close to the fireplace.


On the drive there and back, we saw neighbours outside and chatted with

them briefly.  Each time we stopped the car in the road, a practice I draw

considerable comfort from.  It symbolizes to me that we’re in a community

with the perfect pace.


We got home at dusk.  Jude started a fire while I did a few quick outside

chores.  Slinkee was hyper from being in the house all day, so she and I

played a fast game of “Gimme That!”  She doesn’t grasp or honour the

rules of “Fetch”, but she does like this one-on-one version of “Keep Away”.


She has a three-foot-long section of thick, knotted rope that she considers

extremely valuable on occasion.  When I can catch her and wrest away the

rope, I fling it as far as I can.  We had to quit when it got so dark that my

flings were landing too close to her.  The LED’s in the headlamp I was

wearing reflected eerily in her eyes.


As we headed in, I realized that I’d had a perfect day, enhanced no doubt by

seasonal goodwill.                         

  1. beth reed permalink
    December 20, 2011 6:45 am

    Man some people really know how to live!!!! Good for you and Jude.
    I tell my kids and friends that life is what you make of it. As crummy as these last two years have been I have experienced many blessing, big and small.
    One of the biggest small blessings I have recieved this year was a friend pulled into my yard yesterday with a load of firewood that I despatly needed. He said it was a small ting but to me it was a big thing.
    Life can be good, but we have to get out their an live it like you and Jude do.

    • December 20, 2011 8:43 am

      Firewood is a big deal up here, too, Beth. We use it to barter. It’s literally life-giving, so the community makes sure that everyone has enough for the long cold nights. It’s wonderful that someone is looking out for you. What a terrific surprise that must have been.

  2. Charlotte Wales permalink
    December 20, 2011 8:10 am

    Sounds like a wonderful non-holiday, Allen! I’m heading to the Arkansas mountains (at least, what passes for mountains in this neck of the woods!) for Christmas, but like you, I don’t get into the whole commercial thing. I made everyone’s presents this year, as it has always bothered me that althought it’s supposed to be Jesus’ birthday, he’s the only one NOT getting presents! Just spending time with both my sons and their families will be “present” enough, to be sure!

    • December 20, 2011 8:45 am

      I hope your holidays are the best yet, Charlotte. Being surrounded by family is much more satisfying than being surrounded by gifts.

  3. beth reed permalink
    December 20, 2011 9:49 pm

    Hey Charlotte where in arkansas are you going? I am in arkansas. Be careful of the snow and ice and Happy Travels.
    Yep indeed Allen it was a nice surprise seeing that firewood. How nice that your community looks out for everyone.
    I especially like the bartering part. I do a lot of bartering myself and it really makes me feel good to know that I can trade for something needed and vice versa.


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