Vignettes

I’ve been pretty absent over the last week or two. The last little while has been brimming with laughter, tears, frights, delights, and of so much activity I haven’t had time to write – so I think the best thing to do is sum it all up in snapshot form. Let’s start with Christmas. It was our first as a married couple, and I’d had lots of tips offered from all over the blogosphere as to how to spend it, for which I was really thankful. A good point was raised – that now is the time to start our own traditions as well as continuing some we’d grown up with – which was interesting, since our childhood Christmases couldn’t have been spent more differently! We both agreed, especially since we hadn’t had any time off work since the wedding, that it was important to make time for the two of us, so we began on Christmas Eve starting a tradition I hope will continue. It was an idea of Sweet’s, which I thought was absolutely fantastic: cooking as many Christmas dinners as we could together, packaging them all up with cutlery, insulating the lot and driving around some of the “bad areas” of the city looking for people on the streets going hungry. We drove through downtown, the words of Fairytale of New York filling the car, a stack of dinners piled on my knees. It was -26Β°C that night, the wind bitter and the streets slick with ice. We ended up at what’s commonly known as one of the scarier street corners in the city, and ended up giving away everything we had. I know it’s a dangerous thing to do, but we took precautions. We stayed together. And the chance to make someone’s Christmas Eve a little more bearable was worth it. I held on to his arm tightly as we approached people queuing outside shelters, people under the influence, people huddled in doorways… it was a heartbreaking, terrifying, eye-opening experience, and I think it’s important to acknowledge that we are all so incredibly lucky just to have a roof over our heads over the holiday season, and even more lucky to be able to have someone to give a gift or a card to. We can get so wrapped up (pardon the pun) in ideas of presents, of family dinners, of decorations and of BBC Christmas specials that it can often go unnoticed that there are people living in the very same city for whom Christmas is just another day without food, warmth, friends or family – and I’m really proud of Sweet for wanting to spend Christmas Eve doing something small to acknowledge that. I hope this is a tradition we can continue over the years.

Christmas itself was just about perfect. We slept in a little, exchanged gifts (any girl whose husband buys her a levitating TARDIS is a lucky lady indeed!), ate a wonderful lunch with my Dad and stepmum, Skyped with my Nan (and watched her open pictures and videos from the wedding – magical), watched Dumbledore in Doctor Who, visited my new in-laws (who were incredibly kind and generous!), and spent the evening together, as husband and wife, just curled up with a warm drink, a cuddly cat, ’80s sci-fi Schwarzenegger movies and The Nightmare Before Christmas. It was fantastic.

This was also the first year in many that I’d had to work between Christmas and the new year. Which was pretty rubbish. The rest of my department were all on holiday, leaving me responsible for all 30 participants in our program, which on a regular day would be out in the field, either job searching or providing housekeeping/snow shovelling services to seniors. However, it was decided that instead, during the days I’d be the sole member of staff, I would keep all of them in and teach them computer skills and resume/interview techniques. Now, I recognised what was happening immediately as a case of “be careful what you wish for” – number fifteen on my list for this year was to “teach a full class of people without shaking with nervousness and actually be excited about doing it.” I was being handed the opportunity to do exactly that. I spent the two days prior carefully collecting information, building activities and curriculum, and arrived the morning of to a full class. I was in a noisy computer lab, so I, soft-spoken by nature, had to learn to project. I’d grabbed the wrong PowerPoint file, so I also had to learn how to wing it. I had to answer difficult questions, so I had to learn how to think on my feet. But you know what? I got exactly what I wished for. I can now say I had the experience of a real teacher – and I came out the other side. I stepped out of the building after two days of instruction and literally SKIPPED, clapping as I got into the car. I took people from not knowing what a mouse was to being able to type, e-mail, attach resumes, answer real-world questions, and hopefully, be that much better equipped for success. I definitely don’t want to beΒ  in front of people full-time. But I’m happy I tried. πŸ™‚

One of my closest and best friends in the whole world was in town for the holidays, and I was so beyond thrilled to see him after being able to communicate only by text and Skype for months that I made sure I was at the airport the second he arrived in Winnipeg! We spent numerous nights over the last couple of weeks catching up, each time cramming everything we’d missed over the last few months into four or five hour conversations. I even got to play matchmaker for the first time, which didn’t work out too badly at all! πŸ™‚ I hate that some of the people who mean the most to me have to live so far away, but I’ve come to learn that distance doesn’t have to mean the end of a friendship – it can be the fuel to keep it growing even stronger. I’ve also learned that absence truly does make the heart grow fonder, and to cherish the time you can actually spend together in person.

It’s 2011! New Year’s Eve was spent celebrating birthdays, watching Harry Potter, eating gourmet burgers, and ringing in the new year dancing with a wonderful group of friends in a living room to Stevie Wonder’s Superstition. It was brilliant. I didn’t make resolutions, since I’ve still got a few things left on the 26 Before 26 – hopefully in 5 months time, I’ll be able to say I stuck to them all – or at least attempted them. πŸ™‚

Happy New Year everybody! I can’t wait to catch up with you all soon, and I sincerely hope this year is your best one yet. πŸ™‚

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49 comments

  1. Sounds like an amazing first Christmas together. I LOVE what you and Sweets did on Christmas Eve. That is just too sweet and such a great tradition! Good for you guys for spending your Christmas Eve helping the less fortunate!

    Boo for having to work between Christmas and New Years but YAY for your success with teaching!

  2. I’ve been thinking about this…what kind of traditions I’d like to start with BF. I worked Christmas, but I guess so many the bloggers I read are really into the holiday rituals, it got me thinking about what I’d like to make of the holidays, together. I love that you guys did such a selfless thing.

    And I bet being thrown in the deep end was scary, but you swam!!

    1. I didn’t have much of a choice, lol!

      I get really drawn into the festive spirit through other bloggers, too. It’s hard when you have to work – you don’t have as much time for planning and crafting. But I’m good with just one tradition for right now πŸ™‚

  3. What you did on Xmas Eve was amazing Em. I hope you and Sweets continue that tradition and thank you for the reminder of just how fortunate we really are. Glad you got to visit with your friend too, it’s always hard saying goodbye but it just makes the time together that much more special. Way to go on teaching too! I am so proud of you! Keep crossing them off…..

    Happy New Year!

  4. i was so nervous for you going out like that…. so happy you stayed safe and really made a difference. you’re a great soul em. & i saw all the pics on fb, looks like you and ted got to spend a bit of time together and your new years eve looked fab! and congrats for crossing off yet another of your goals! happy 2011 xxx

    1. Thanks lovely! Sorry for worrying you… I must admit I was pretty scared while we were out but I’m so glad we did it. Don’t worry, I won’t go out on my own! πŸ™‚ Yeah I did get to spend a lot of time with Ted but it all went far too quickly 😦

  5. Ooh Emily!
    What a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas! What you and your husband did for those homeless people would in my mind be what Christmas is truly about. I am humbled!
    I’m so happy that you had a wonderful holiday, survived your teaching experience, (I knew you would) and enjoyed New Year’s Eve.
    This is shaping up to be a fabulous year for me so far, I know it will be the same for you!
    Happy New Year!

    1. I’m not actually sure! I didn’t realise it was Dumbledore at first, so I’m going to have to watch it again – I thought it was beautifully shot and awfully romantic, but not as action-packed or timey-wimey as I would’ve liked. But giant sharks pulling santa’s sleigh? Sign me up πŸ™‚

  6. Sounds like you had a fabulous Christmas! Between enjoying your time with friends and family, and giving back it’s no wonder you’ve been away from blogland πŸ™‚

  7. Happy New Year Emily! I love what you two did for Christmas Eve. That is so sweet, and incredibly generous. I am sure you made some people very happy! You are so right: we are incredibly blessed and lucky to have roofs over our heads and food to eat every day. It’s not something to take for granted. πŸ™‚ Happy Holidays to you! ❀

  8. Wow, your Christmas Eve tradition is an amazing one. What a wondeful way to give back and to remind yourself how incredibly blessed we all are…

    It sounds like an amazing Christmas/NYE. I also worked the week between the holidays as I was out of vacation time. I hope I can take some time off in between next year! My Christmas was pretty quiet, but nice. NYE was also quiet, but nice.

    Here’s to an amazing 2011!

    1. I was out of vacation time as well – but that just says there were lots of memories throughout the year πŸ™‚ I hope 2011 brings you all sorts of wonderful things, because you really deserve it!

  9. There’s so many good things about this post, I don’t know where to start. I’ll just say this: you and your husband are fantastic people for doing that on Christmas. The world needs more thoughtful people like you. Also, happy first time teaching! You say you won’t do it again (possibly) but I bet you’ll be back πŸ˜‰

    1. Haha, aw thanks!! I’m sure I WILL be back… the part I’m not quite so sure about is whether it’ll be voluntary, lol. I just need work on focusing more on why I’m doing it and what position I’m in, and less on the nerves πŸ™‚

  10. Wow, you packed a whole lot of amazing into the last week or so. Your detailing of driving around giving out dinners gave me chills. I’d be terrified, but I’m sure it’s one of those experiences you learn so much from and feel so much better having done it. Hopefully it becomes a tradition, because I feel like everyone’s sort of lost what Christmas is about, and this certainly is bringing it back into focus. Good luck with the rest of the list. How many do you have left?

    1. I have eleven left. Just counted πŸ™‚ So I think I’m pretty on track, but it’s a little intimidating because it’s the Big Scary Ones that are still left…

  11. What a great way to spend Christmas although it’s a bummer you worked over the holidays. I had to work two Christmases ago ON Christmas and it kind of ruined the day for me =-(

    1. Yeah, I had to work on Christmas day one year as well – it was the most boring day ever knowing the reason there wasn’t a single customer was because they were all elsewhere actually enjoying Christmas!!

  12. I love the Christmas Eve tradition idea. My friends and I often talk about how much we hate how much food goes to waste in restaurants–think if you could get restaurants to share your Christmas Eve tradition how many people would get fed that night?

    And I absolutely love this: “I hate that some of the people who mean the most to me have to live so far away, but I’ve come to learn that distance doesn’t have to mean the end of a friendship – it can be the fuel to keep it growing even stronger. I’ve also learned that absence truly does make the heart grow fonder, and to cherish the time you can actually spend together in person.”

    –And I love that–because it’s so true. Some of my very best friends have become my best friends over distance. It’s absolutely wonderful. Fantastic : )

    1. Getting restaurants in on the action sounds like a brilliant idea! I may have to research this further – I will definitely keep you posted πŸ™‚

      Distance can do wonders for friendship – it’s different than long distance relationships, where you feel you HAVE to keep it up because you’ve invested yourself as a partner with somebody else into something – with friendship, the magic happens because both people are choosing to continue the relationship despite potential reasons to just say goodbye. The beauty in its strengthening is wonderful πŸ™‚

  13. I love the idea of doing a service project or spending part of the holidays giving back. I am so happy that you and Sweet were able to find the balance between spending time together and spending time with those you love. Happy New Year, may 2011 bring you even more joy.

  14. What a great gesture! And what a great new tradition for the two of you! Happy New Year, Emily and may it be filled with lots of awesome and amazing adventures!

  15. Wow, I absolutely love the new Christmas Eve tradition you guys started. How wonderful.

    Happy New Year Emily! Wishing you lots of good things in 2011. πŸ™‚

  16. I love, love, love the tradition you started with Sweet! I would be terrified to do it, but I imagine it was such a rewarding experience. πŸ™‚

    I had to work the weeks of Christmas and NYE but those are actually my favorite times to work because we have half the kids we normally have and things are so quiet around the center. πŸ™‚ Plus, it’s fun to see the kids get so excited!!

    Glad you had a fun holiday season! Cheers to 2011!

  17. Wow. Hell of an end to the year! Also, congrats on your great teaching endeavor! Must have been quite the rush and thrill to accomplish such a feat you’d set for yourself. Awesome, lady. Just awesome.

  18. Hi Emily! Looks like we’ve been partnered for the book swap- I couldn’t find your email address in the email I received, so I thought I’d just drop you a little comment here. Looking forward to sending something your way! We’ve got some similar tastes, I loooooved time Traveller’s Wife πŸ™‚

  19. What a WONDERFUL thing to do for Christmas, Emily! That positively warmed my heart. You and your husband are two of the sweetest, kindest people I know.

    So glad you had a wonderful Christmas! And yikes, you completed #15 on your list! Congratulations, girlfriend!

  20. I think it is absolutely incredible that you and your husband made warm meals and distributed them to those in need. That is brilliant and I wish there were more people like that, myself included.

    xoxo

  21. Oh ❀ lady, I absolutely adore you and Sweet for your first Christmas tradition together – that really is a gorgeous thing to do, and I'm sure that the many people you fed had a better Christmas because of it. You guys are absolutely amazing! Also, sounds like you had a fantastic holiday season – I'm so glad! Even more so that you took something horrid (having to work between Christmas and New Years, who makes people do that?!) and made it into something brilliant – High Five, lady! πŸ™‚

  22. I love you instantly for the mere fact that you love Doctor Who! I’ve only become a fan through the “new Who”, but have watched a few of the older episodes for a giggle πŸ˜‰ Thanks so much for stopping by my blog!

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