About Me

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What I am: Complicated. A mom. A wife. A thinker. A seeker. A 'musician'. One of the volunteer executive directors of a niche music festival. An administrative business owner who set up shop in a senior's condo. Oh the stories!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Tracy takes the Fruitcake...

Joe Morgan

A really weird thing happened to me today.  After all these years, I never thought I’d see the day.  I ate fruitcake…and I liked it.  I haven’t tried it since I was a kid and thereafter would not go near the stuff.  It was packed full of awful things, like raisins, currents and those big hunks of odd green and red cherries.  And candied peel.  Ew.  Why would you candy something you’re supposed to throw away?   

After all the time I spent bitterly complaining about the Christmas gift that never goes away, I am horrified to have to eat my words… along with another slice of fruitcake…because it’s not that bad!  I must be getting old.  Soon, hot water will be my beverage of choice.  “No thanks, no eggnog for me, just some hot water if you have.”

Come to think of it, Christmas was a time where we ate weird things in my family, and I looked forward to most of them.  Now I said most of them.  Mincemeat and tomato aspic were and still are off limits. (Seriously?  Tomato jello??  Do NOT eat that, whatever you do.  It’s a trick.) 

Our traditions were somewhat unique as well.  Maybe it comes from being half French and half Ukrainian, I’m not sure, but when Christmas Eve rolled around there was stuff on the table that my friends never talked about having.  It would start with snacks like smoked oysters, and pickled herring  but then…thrill of thrills, we’d get to open the BOXED CHOCOLATES!!  Could there be anything more exciting than being one of the first to choose from the Pot of Gold?  Usually you’d find the box a week after Christmas with one or two lone orange creams rattling around inside. You knew they were orange creams for sure because someone had poked the bottoms to check.  Even in the throes of post-holiday sugar withdrawal, no one would be desperate enough to eat them.  Just like the dish of Satin Mix hard candies that my grandma would have on her counter til Easter.

Christmas Eve supper was in keeping with our version of the French tradition of Le Réveillon.  Along with the tourtiere, there was usually a stew of pork hocks, yes feet. Throw in a few perogies and cabbage rolls and the Ukrainian side was balanced out. We were so stuffed that we had good reason to refuse dessert (fruitcake). 

Midnight mass was the epicentre of our Christmas celebration, as we always sang in the choir.  But because we would basically be up all night, our parents made us have a nap in the evening.  A nap. Imagine. There was no time more exciting than Christmas Eve in our house.  It was the day I’d waited for all year.  I had diligently circled all the items I couldn’t live without from the dog-eared pages of the Sears Christmas Wish Book and there they (maybe) were! Right there under the tree!  Would it be Walking Wendy (creepy doll)?  Lite Brite?  A chemistry set?  Aunts, uncles and cousins were everywhere, there were sugary treats in every corner of the house and they wanted me to what???  Have a nap?!!  

Well, Christmas has changed since we were kids, and has most certainly changed for us this year.  For the first time in my life, I will not be celebrating Christmas at my childhood home, but in my own home.  We will be with family and we will create new traditions.  It’s still all about food and the people you love, isn’t it? What more can we ask for?  

Whatever belief or creed you hold, whatever religion you observe, I would like to wish you joy in the season.  I think we all share a common belief that in whatever way we celebrate, we are celebrating hope.  For me, Christmas is not complete until my eyes fill with tears as I hear the opening strains of ‘O Holy Night'.  This song, to me, is one of the most beautiful ever composed.
  Fall on your knees
 O hear the angel voices
O night, divine
O night, o night divine.
Merry Christmas.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Doctor, Doctor, Gimme the News

I honestly don't know where the time has gone.  It is December for God's Sake!!  As some of you know, I have chosen not to renew my contract at Senioritaville and have hung out my own shingle as Office180 running administrative contracts out of my home office.  Yes, that's my dreadfully boring side.  I love being at home talking to myself all the live-long day.  It suits me just fine.  I do miss my seniors though; they gave me no end of amusement and they were genuinely sad to see me go.  Christmas time was especially fun but there's only so many boxes of chocolates covered cherries I can re-gift, you know what I'm saying? 

I'll be going back for the Christmas dinner, which is always great.  I hope no one breaks a hip this year as we try to be the first table to dash to the microphone to sing, We Three Kings so we're chosen as first to go in the buffet lineup.

So I've got some transition time to get a few things done.  Turns out there's more than a few things I have put off.  I had to make a list of the lists I had to make.

There are things I tend to avoid, mostly invasive things like dentists, optometrists and the basement storage room.  I also had to call my doctor's office to renew a prescription, and the receptionist made a huge deal out of the fact that I hadn't had a physical for over a year and a half. Oops.  Well it's not like you come out of those things going, "Wow, that was fun!  Can't wait to do it again. Let's pencil me in for the next one right now, shall we?" 

The whole approach to checking your complete physical health has not changed a bit in the last 25 years.  Pee in a cup and pass it through the little door of shame, get your arm squeezed off by the blood pressure thing and get your finger poked even though you just had what felt like half your blood volume removed to check for everything from soup to nuts: 

 "Finger, please."
"Oh, but I just did full bloodwork earlier this...OW!!"
"Ok, dear, you'll have to remove all your clothes, but use this paper napkin to keep yourself warm and comfortable during the interminable wait.  The doctor will be here shortly."   
We all know what shortly means.

I wait and wait and grow more anxious as the minutes tick by.  It is clear to me that the reason the doctor is not coming in is that he has a medical team reviewing my chart.  They are trying to find a way to tell me I have Ebola, the only case ever discovered in North America.  Or hantavirus due to the mouse poop I swept up in the shed this summer at the lake (I knew it!).  I immediately begin planning my dramatic farewell vacation but can't concentrate on the details because I'm freezing. How many Airmiles will it take to get me to the equator?

Finally, desperate to take my mind off the impending news, I reach over to grab the only magazine in the place, Canadian Cycling, and there is a knock on the door.  There is also an audible rip as my paper napkin has reached it's maximum stretch. I guess I won't be consulting the Gift Guide for every Cyclist on my list after all.

"So Mrs......"
"Yes!  Lalonde.  So today we're doing a ...."
"Physical." (The fact that I am wearing a sheet made of kleenex instead of my long johns should be an indicator.)
"Yes! Physical.  Ok, just lie back on the table here and relax."
"Relax.  Of course, I've been relaxing this whole time.  Very relaxing in here. Not sterile at all... I love what you've done with the throat swabs."   

Turns out that all is well and only thing wrong is that I'm low on Vitamin D.  You know what that means!  A prescription for getting the hell out of Siberia.  Take me to the sun, Baby!