Sunday, December 23, 2007

My Christmas Letter

Under the suggestion of a certain American, who suggested that it would be preferable to receive another mass Christmas letter from me, rather than a unique birch bark card, I did both. I made the cards and I wrote the letter.  For those who addresses I did not have, or were too far flung from Eastern Canada to get the letter in time for Christmas (I didn't finish it until mid-December), I am posting it here and then I'll email all of my favorite people and they can check it out if/when they want. Here's wishing you all peace, joy and love in this season and those that follow.

Season’s Bleatings from the East Coast of Canada

Well, it’s that time of year again - time to trim up the tree, carve the turkey, sing Christmas carols by the fire and wrap presents in pretty paper and ribbons of blue. Sounds so idyllic, doesn’t it? Almost like something out of a timeless Disney movie, starring you and your wonderful life.  Ah, but let’s face it, December is rarely the harmony-filled, tranquil month we all crave. It’s more often a cross between being a contestant on Survivor (The Wal-Mart edition), Jerry Springer-worthy family feuds, and, depending on how many peanut butter balls you consume, a chance to star on next season’s Biggest Loser. 

Phew. It’s enough to make one want to skip Christmas, except, according to John Grisham, that’s easier said then done. So I’m trying a precarious balancing act this year – one in which I celebrate what I believe Christmas is all about (see below for Shantimentalities) and attempt to debunk as much of the commercialism that this season invites as. That’s why you’re all getting personalized pieces of bark from me! 

I suppose it’s time to check out the 2007 Tickle Trunk and see what wonderful memories I’ve packed away over the last year. 

OK, so I welcomed in the New Year on the famous Sydney Harbour, in the company brilliant friends, including Lisa, Sara, Craig, Kelly, Mary, Amo, Shannon, Brett and Peter.  Shortly after I recovered from the obligatory hangover, I flew the Citibank coop, and started trekking around Australia.  Over the next four months, I found myself staying at a number of farms and homes, working minimal hours in exchange for a room, scrumptious meals and the incomparable company of people such as Jo, Seva, Lynn and Janine.

In between farmstays, I checked out Tasmania (read: indulged at the Cadbury chocolate factory) with Sara, toured the world’s largest sand island (Fraser Island), drove along the Great Ocean Road (koala sightings!!), trampled my way through rainforests and soaked up a few beach rays. Sadly, May meant leaving the Land Down Under, which I’d fondly come to call home. On the way back to the Great White North, I thoroughly enjoyed a short sojourn in San Fran, and a slightly longer interlude in Michigan. Yes, Michigan, with its Annual Asparagus Festival and Molson cheaper than you can get it in Canada.  

And then June came and with it a sweet return to the warm embrace of an Island summer, the familiarity of family and old friends, and, well, unemployment. Ah, but that didn’t last more than a few weeks and by Canada Day I had a day job at UPEI! The rest of the summer and fall were wonderfully busy - working out at the gym, writing, volunteering, taking a UPEI course, trying to figure out my next move and applying on scholarships to do grad school. All the while, enjoying the company of old friends and new, and reveling in the moments as they came my way. And that, my dear friends, brings me to today, the 12th of December, 2007. Are you as astonished at the brevity of my recap as I am? Never been one to flaunt my abilities in the area of conciseness. Ahem. 

So, yes, I did a lot of things and went a lot of places, but what really sticks with me are the things I learned; the insights I’ve accumulated over twelve months and three countries. This has been a Year of Magical Learning. Evidently, all that time I spent mucking out horse paddocks, picking up cow paddies, and chasing chickens did more than just build up my sensory resilience. Along the way, here are some of the things I learned (and, yes, it’s a wee bit sentimental):

  • Whether you sleep in a king-size bed or on a single mattress without a box spring matters little; what matters is if you can rest easy at the end of each day.
  • The more you give today, the more you’ll be able to give tomorrow. 
  • There is a reason for everything that happens in your life, and everyone that passes through it.  Let yourself be open to all possibilities. 
  • The past has passed and the future may or may not come. Entrench yourself in the present – it is all you can actually live in.  
  • There is nothing better than sitting around with friends, new or old, eating chocolate, watching the sun set and talking about life. 
  • Perspective is everything.  It should be lost, found, challenged, questioned and redefined as time goes by. If it’s not, ask yourself why. 
  • Time. We all start the year with the same balance in our account and how we choose to spend it is entirely within our own control.   Time, however, is not like money. You can’t earn more than you are given and you can’t get any on loan. So choose how you use your time wisely and you’ll end up with a bank full of amazing memories and friends.
  • People are interesting. Much more so than their Facebook profile might suggest. So enjoy their company - listen to their stories, laugh with them and learn from them.  Most of all, let them know you appreciate them
  • In this journey called life, the only compass you’ll ever need is love. 

And those are just a few of the things I learned this year – from books, from people, from life and from love.   I’m excited about what 2008 holds; I reckon it’s going to be chalk full of more first-times, friendships and fun!  

I wish you all the most wonderful moments in this season and all those that follow. Please give generously of your hugs, smiles and love and you’ll find yourself with an abundance of the same in your life. Thank you for being brilliant – you are in my thoughts, memories and heart.

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