Friday, December 24, 2010
Seagulls at Christmas
I jaunt down the street, a spring in my step, the wind behind me pushing me along, and my hairspray failing miserably. But I don’t care.
It’s the Christmas season.
Cars are honking, people are bustling (cliché, I know), the odd argument is progressing as I jaunt by those unsuspecting of my ever-perked ears.
The Netherlands Centennial Carillon – ‘The Singing Tower’ with its 62 bells - chimes in the distance. A horse-drawn carriage clip-clops past; the pompom on the horse’s Santa hat bounces while the jingle bells on his harness tinkle in unison. St Andrews Presbyterian Church (circa 1890), with its red brick exterior and it’s tower blocking the sun trying to peek through the clouds, plays Christmas carols through its external speakers; the carols can be heard for blocks down the street.
I feel like I should be in a movie, bouncing along, swinging my bags, my beret on my head with a sprig of holly pinned on top, and my perfect ¾-length, red wool coat accenting my perfect lithe form. Of course my hair would be perfect. A light dusting of snow would be resting on my shoulders, flakes on my perfect long eyelashes, perfectly setting the mood. And did I say my hair would be perfect?
Suddenly, to break the ambiance - the yuletide atmosphere that has been staged by all these perfect visual and auditory attributes - a reverie overhead stops me in my tracks.
The screech of a squabble of seagulls jolts me back to reality; a plop of white narrowly misses my shoe, my pants, and my now un-hair sprayed hair.
Thank God I wasn’t wearing my perfect ¾-length, red wool coat.
So much for Christmas.
Well, not really.
I smooth down my hair, step over the white blob (not snow, unfortunately), and keep going. Suddenly the song Mele Kalikimaka (A Hawaiian Song – Bing Crosby) pops in my head – seagulls don’t even live in Hawaii, I’m not even NEAR Hawaii, so I don’t know where that came from.
No, seagulls are not a traditional Christmas presence, but in these parts, they are.
Who cares about what SHOULD be typically traditional. Whatever is traditional in your neck of the woods is what is traditional to YOU. No matter where you are in the world - Hawaii with the floral shirts; the Amazon with clingy Spider Monkeys; China with solid gold chopsticks; Australia with their sea turtles waving their fins to folks firing up the barbie on the beach – if you celebrate Christmas, even though you might not have all the things you see in a greeting card or magazine or show or book – it’s still Christmas. It might not be perfect, but it’s still Christmas – for you.
Yes, we all have expectations, fantasies, and memories from years past we would like to relive. Books and movies fuel our perception of what a perfect Christmas should be. But what is perfect? Yes, in some parts, snow would be welcomed – depending on how much, and as long as my hair-do isn’t affected. And yes, a roaring fire, chestnuts roasting (they make me gag, actually), and a stress-free turkey dinner with red bows decorating the sterling silver platter are what greeting cards are made of.
And of course, my hair would be perfect.
In these parts, we rarely get snow (see entry dated December 5, 2010, for the exception). We are surrounded by a cold Pacific Ocean. Ducks, Canadian Geese and seagulls fight for space on (unfrozen) ponds, lakes and beaches. Harbour seals wait for us to feed them from the docks. In the past, our parkas and boots have stayed stuffed in the back of the closet, and sunglasses were needed to protect our perfect eyes from the glare of the sun. My umbrella is at the ready, and usually my hair looks like crap because of the wind and rain. We have to drive 5 hours to find snow. Some of us don’t have chimneys (but Santa still finds his way in with the help of a ‘magic’ key), but we DO have deer that come eat our now blooming Crocus.’ Maybe not reindeer, but let’s pretend, shall we?
But this is normal – traditional – for here. This is where I live. This is what I have. This is what is normal, and PERFECT, for me.
Yes the greeting card photo would be nice, indeed, but I embrace what Christmas is, here, for us. It’s a season; a celebration. It is a time to accept the world around you, enjoy what you have, forget about what you don’t have, and let go of trying to be perfect.
I got next to zero baking done. We have no snow. My hair isn’t perfect. Seagulls are not part of Christmas. And I just remembered I forgot to buy napkins – crap.
Sure I wish for this and that; ALL my family near me, a fireplace, a white Christmas, a clean house, my baking done – and perfect hair. But this is the way it is.
I have family; some live afar, some live near - but I have them. I have a roof over my head. I have food in the fridge (except baking). I HAVE hair, albeit not perfect. I can walk down the street swinging my bags. I have a home to go to; kids to get on my nerves. I will walk with my family around the lake on Christmas day and laugh at the otters playing in the water (if I can unglue them from the couch that is – my darling children, not the otters). And seagulls entertain me.
So wherever you are in the world, and if you celebrate Christmas, don’t pine for what you don’t have, what you wish you had, and what isn’t to be, there. Things can’t always be perfect, and wishing otherwise will ruin what you already DO have. Accept what you DO have, cherish where you live, love your family, and enjoy the barbie on the beach.
Now excuse me, I have to go fix my hair.
Merry Christmas, from......