After 2014 being my first Christmas officially away from home (i.e. no immediate family), I more than made up for it in Christmas 2015 with sharing my Christmas with my parents, my sister, brother-in-law, nieces and nephews, two uncles and aunts, on top of seeing the holidays have me visit an old co-worker here at the Taber Times and an old journalism school chum I hadn’t seen in 12 years.
A libations-filled New Year’s Eve at the Heritage Inn and Curling Club followed by Japanese New Year’s and the memories were plentiful to share with readers in their regular Seinfeldesque form.
NOTHING TO SNEEZE AT: As I write this column I think I am now finally getting over a cold/flu/craptacular malaise I’ve been in since around Dec. 21.
It’s been weird, I’ve never had a head cold this long in my life that then shifts into the odd day where I’m running to the bathroom with the intestinal urgency of Jesse Ownes running for Olympic gold.
I’ve been hearing it’s been like this everywhere in the Taber area where at one point the Taber Times office was like that monkey off of Outbreak, with how much illness was spreading.
It was still a great Christmas break, but just feeling ‘off’ for such a long stretch was a tad unsettling as usually the head cold or flu is of the week variety tops.
PARALYSIS BY ANALYSIS: It looked like many men were in the same boat as me when it came to panic last-minute Christmas shopping for their loved ones. A few days before I scheduled to depart for Edmonton, there I was with the same deer-in-the-headlights gaze as a half dozen other men staring at the wall of Barbies at Toys R’ Us. Barbie seemed to have a self-image problem because she morphed into dozens upon dozens of different styles of Barbie on that wall…I was half expecting to uncover Accountant Barbie. I must have grabbed a half dozen different Barbies and put them back on the shelf, much like what a handful of men beside me did, paralyzed in fear, knowing the love of their daughter, niece, or grandchild hung in the balance. Upon purchasing the Barbie, I got the unsettling news from my mother that according to the grapevine, my niece may not be ‘into’ Barbie anymore. On my way to Edmonton I exchanged the Barbie in favour of her artistic flair of colouring. Much to my relief, she loved her decked out colouring swag and books, gave me a big hug and coloured her creations in front of me.
GAMES GALORE: Speaking of games, my niece and nephew loved playing what they have termed as ‘tickle monster’ in which I added another game called pillow grenade. It was simply the hide-and-seek game of before of ‘tickle monster’ where if found, you were tickled. But I substituted tickling with good old fashioned rough housing with projectile pillows where if you get hit you’re the next seeker in hide and seek. As I saw my niece run by me and I launched the pillow, she grabbed her little brother and used him as a human shield and a little tear streamed down my face as I thought ‘sniff…sniff…a chip off the ol’ block.’ Also in the games room was my niece and nephew getting Super Mario Kart, a game I can honestly say I’m addicted to in which I was thinking about forgoing bathing and other forms of human interaction at times for Mario Kart bliss.
LARGESS OF LIBATIONS: While not quite at the level of an Andy Capp cartoon, visiting with plenty of family and friends this past holiday season, I had my share of spirits consumed from pre-Christmas to New Year’s Day. From my brother-in-law’s bulk rye he bought at Costco, to scotch with an old journalism colleague, to beer with a former Taber Times employee, to the whole gambit of libations during a New Year’s Eve party, let’s just say my liver and I were not on talking terms for a few days there. But there is something about sitting down with close family and friends over a glass of your favourite libation and having some real conversation exploring life. I’m of course referring to those conversations and not the ones at New Year’s Eve where you are blathering ‘I love you Man’ to anyone within earshot as you are practising your dance moves with a lamp shade on your head that ranges from smooth as butter to spastic in its delivery depending on how many drinks you’ve had during the night.
PRIORITIES: You really know you have reached the middle-aged benchmark when you have gone from toys and gadgets to clothing in making your heart go aflutter in a present you received for Christmas. Practicality trumps an impulse item for me. I’d say that’s a sign of me growing up, but if anyone were to see the memes I put up on Facebook, we all know that is likely not going to ever fully happen.
MIRTH WITH MOM: ‘Even bad men love their mommas’ – Ben Wade from 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma. While I do not think I am quite at the level of ill repute as Ben Wade, the killer and gang leader portrayed by Russell Crowe in the classic western, 3:10 to Yuma, I got me plenty of flaws. But in my constant journey to be a better man than I was yesterday, it has all started with the life lessons I was taught by my mother growing up. And yes I’ll admit it, every time I travel to see her and even now as a man in his 40s, I get a little teary eyed during that last hug before one of us departs in an airplane or in our vehicle. It reaffirms to me that you can have all the luxury extras in life one can enjoy making a living in North America, it doesn’t count for much if you don’t have strong family and friends that genuinely care about you.
AN OLD FRIEND: Got to see an old friend I hadn’t seen since a few years out of college in Leduc. In a poignant moment he bought us a bottle of scotch aged 12 years to sip while we caught up on the 12 years we hadn’t seen each other in. We also reminisced on our journalism school days with past girlfriends, memorable interviews and memorable times in those younger days. Mix in a few newspaper war stories and it’s like a day hadn’t passed since we last saw each other. I think everyone has that type of friend where years can pass when it only feels like days.
DANCE FEVER: I have the shopping cart, card dealer, hitchhiker, jockey, cowboy and archer as just a few of many dance moves in my arsenal. Whatever I was doing on New Year’s Eve at the Heritage Inn, could someone please tell me what it was? That night was a little hazy and I want to make sure I put a trademark on it. Bonus points for my ability to keep down the authentic sushi at Japanese New Year’s the next day.