Letting my heart be light

I’m an optimist – and generally a pretty positive person – but the gloom of early winter gets to me. Sometimes the dark and cold sneak their way into my brain and leave me feeling totally zapped. Those days, I feel like I could just melt into the upholstery of my sofa.

That’s part of why I love Christmas so much. It’s a big, tinsel-covered excuse for celebration in the middle of the crummiest season. It cures most of my ailments:

  • Getting poor? Put what you need on your Christmas list!
  • Need a drink? Cure the doldrums with mulled wine!
  • Working too hard? Don’t worry, vacation is coming!
  • Want chocolate? Have one of ten billion holiday cookies on your counter!
  • Feeling glum? Try singing Deck the Halls five times!
  • Dark out? Switch on the Christmas lights!

But it’s not just the gifts, treats, and warm spiced beverages. Christmas lifts me up because of the way people come together. Friends clink glasses, couples watch old movies, families play board games, and organizations work to help their communities. Here are some examples from my life these past few weeks:

Work has felt particularly Christmassy this year. Every department at Georgian is doing something to make a difference. There are coat collections, mitten trees, toy drives, and silent auctions at every corner.

Last week, a dear co-worker met a student in the hallway who was bawling because some inconsiderate movers had bailed on her. She was out of money and short on friends. My boss rallied some of my (bigger, stronger, healthier) colleagues and a few hours of heavy lifting later, the student was settled into her new apartment. It was kindness as its simplest and best.

So as December chugs along, I’m resolving to be kind too. To myself, JF, those I love, the people I meet, and my community as a whole. It’s my cure for slush, wind and ice.

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House update

I’m taking a quick break from Georgian’s Got Talent Benefit Concert shenanigans (show is tomorrow and Friday and tickets can be purchased here!) to update you all on the state of my house.

After stripping acres of wallpaper last summer and painting walls last fall, we took an extended home maintenance break.

Snowy road

This was my drive to work late last week

Probably too long a break, actually. I blame the horrid winter we’re (still!) enduring.

We hired a nice handyman named Scott to clean out our eaves troughs just after Halloween. They froze before he could get to them, so he said he’d come by at the first thaw. Well, the thaw never came.

I just did the math and that’s almost five months – or about 40% of the whole damn year – under ice.

We didn’t spend those five months hammering away as planned, but we did pick up fun new skills like pipe thawing, flood fighting, car boosting, and ice chipping – all vital when powering through cold, cold February in a Victorian home.

In any case, we’re getting back into the swing of things — our energy levels rising as the days grow longer. JF is nailing in our new powder room ceiling as I type.

First priority when things thaw? Stripping the addition’s siding so we can insulate the mudroom. There goes the hardwood floor budget, but at least we’ll avoid more long winter nights holding hairdryers to our pipes.

Here are some photos of our space as it looked last weekend. There are about a zillion things that don’t look right or need to be fixed, but it’s feeling like home.

Heather and Jerry left us this lovely sign for our front porch

Heather and Jerry left us this lovely sign for our front porch

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Embracing winter

The crappy side of winter. Driving in this.

The crappy side of winter. Driving in this.

This winter feels about as long as high school. For all my happy thoughts about shovelling, I’m tired of having my hands freeze to gas pumps. I don’t want to buy any more sidewalk salt. And I simply refuse to get stuck driving 70 km/h on a barely snowy one-lane highway – or, as JF calls it, getting buick-ed.

The worst part is, I never had to deal with any of this shit when I lived in Toronto.

The constant biting winds have my (poor, overworked) optimism constantly rewinding back to when winter was awesome. Twenty years ago, I could do backward crosscuts, make ice forts, and spend whole days building snowwomen – my mom is a feminist, can you tell? – in our backyard. Today I can barely do up my snowpants.

Me and Alicia, in the early 90s. Yes, that is a one-piece neon snowsuit.

Me and Alicia, in the early 90s. Yes, that is a one-piece neon snowsuit.

Memories of epic childhood snowball fights and two other things are currently keeping me going:

      • The Olympics. Because they are an excellent reminder that some people actually like snow and ice.
      • My lovely friends. Because they keep booting my butt out into the fresh air.

Thank you to: Mireille for getting me to the skating rink, Danielle for loaning me her Krazy Karpet, Kyra for trekking through deep snow in Tiny Marsh with me, Happy and Sam for getting married in an ice palace, and JF for forcing me to use the snowshoes we got for Christmas two years ago.

Mireille, my skating buddy.

Mireille, my skating buddy.

Warding off the winter blues is tough. But it might be a lot easier if instead of just thinking about when winter was great, I actually did great winter things.

Maybe I’ll try curling, or maybe JF and I will build a massive igloo in the backyard. Either way, I am determined to kick February in its snowy, white ass.