Hopefully it will be less successful than Operation Eat Chocolate Until Even My Puke Smells Sweet

My my, what a Christmas morning. The crazy wind outside woke us up at 4AM, and we never really got back to sleep. We chatted with my brother and his missus on Skype for a bit at the end of their Christmas day (they’re in Brisbane), then extracted the goodies from our stockings, then had a breakfast of delicious Cumbrae’s bacon, biscuits straight from the oven and prosecco mimosas. Then, to the business at hand — the unwrapping of gifts. Here’s my haul:

  • Five books: Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind, The Disappeared by Kim Echlin, Empire Of Illusion by Chris Hedges, The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels, and a book about Cumberland County, NS (where I grew up)
  • Three Blu-ray discs: Die Hard (which we watched last night, actually), Inglourious Basterds and Children Of Men
  • This t-shirt
  • Chocolate. Oh, sweet merciful frangipane, the chocolate.
  • A jar of beets. Which, on any day other than Christmas — when I actually really want beets — would be a weird gift.
  • A proper, game-style Montreal Canadiens jersey, which I shall wear tomorrow night at…
  • The Montreal/Toronto game at the Air Canada Centre! Nellie somehow got us gold seats. I don’t know whose soul she had to sell to do it. I don’t even care. If y’all tune in to CBC Saturday night, I’ll be the guy getting his ass kicked by angry Leafs fans.
  • There was also an Amazon.ca coupon which I promptly used against a massive order to clear off my wishlist: Star Trek, Heat, Fight Club, Band of Brothers, Enterprise 2.0 by Andrew McAfee and The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
  • Of course we got lots of little things in our stockings, my favourite being the latest issue of GQ (which Nellie got for me after reading this tweet, because she is simply awesome)
  • We got some shared gifts like some cool art from my brother and his wife, some blown glass coasters (with a backstory) from my mom & dad, and four bottles of delicious Alchemy from Nellie’s mom
  • Best of all, though, were the donations my family made in lieu of gifts, which through some good timing, generosity and a little voodoo were matched 300% and given to the United Way of Greater Toronto.

Right now the turkey’s in the oven, the mess has been carted away, Nellie’s watching the Blu-ray copy of Serenity I gave her, the cats are coming down from their catnip high and we’re sliding into sweet relaxation mode. Tonight there’ll be revelry with friends. Tomorrow we’ll do battle with the deluded sports fans of Toronto. Following that I plan on launching Operation Watch Movies Until Mine Eyes Do Bleed.

Merry Christmas, kids!

"Jesus Christ, Powell, he could be a f*cking bartender for all we know!"

Chrtistmas feels different this year. Maybe it’s because there’s not been any snow in Toronto (until today, but apparently it’ll be gone by tomorrow afternoon), or maybe it’s because all I’ve been able to think about lately is work, or maybe it’s because I’ve not been on a flight to NS and then relaxing on the family farm.

But today after I got home from work, it started to feel a little more like Christmas. Different Christmas. We have our own little traditions, like watching Die Hard (for me) and Love Actually (for her), eating loads of delicious food from Cumbrae’s and About Cheese and Moroco and drinking the bottle of wine I got Nellie last year. It doesn’t replace all the other things that feel like Christmas…it just adds to them.

In that, I suppose I’m lucky. There are a lot of people who have bad memories of Christmas, or no memories of it at all. That surplus of good fortune, not to mention the fact that we’re both happy, healthy and gainfully employed, prompted and allowed me to try to do a little bit to help some of the people who aren’t so lucky. And I figure that should be a Christmas tradition too.

Whatever you might be celebrating, wherever you’re celebrating it, I hope it’s a happy one. And I hope the peanut butter balls there are as good as the one I’m eating right now. Cheers, everybody.

Goin' back to Hali

For the third time (or fourth, if you count flying into the airport for a family reunion) in four months, I’m back in Halifax. This is the traditional final phase of the Christmas vacation, where we end up for our anniversary and to chill a little bit before flying back to Toronto.

Christmas eve was a gentle mix of cleaning up, beating my dad at crib, wrapping gifts and lying about. Christmas day was lots of fun, hauling away lots of booty (many DVDs & Wii games, as well as some other cool stuff…IP-enabled camera, Star Wars trivia book, etc.), having a delicious extended-family dinner at my brother’s house across the yard, and finishing off the day playing the Wii with Nellie, the nephew, the nieces, the brother and the sister-in-law.

Boxing Day started off well — driving to my aunt’s house where just about all of the extended family on my father’s side gathered for yearly reunion & feast — but took a bad turn when I realized I’d left my bag (including my wallet, ID, Blackberry, Zen, camera, etc.) back on the farm. That discovery corresponded with one of the worst headaches I’ve ever had. So Nellie did some championship rally-driving back to the farm where I grabbed the bag, swallowed a bunch of advil and gassed up the car, then we hightailed it toward Halifax. Three extra hours in the car wasn’t how I wanted to spend the day, but there you go. We visited Nellie’s cousin and her family for a bit, then drove to our hotel in Halifax. A huge late-night dinner later, we retired to the comfy, quiet room. Ahhhhhhhh.

It’s been an awesome, relaxing morning…in-sleeping, breakfast-eating, paper-reading, price-checking. Now we’re heading out for a stroll and to see if we can locate any particular deals, and to feed Nellie’s craving for fish & chips at the Rogue’s Roost. Cheers, internet. Hope you’re feeling as groovy as we are.

Ah, vacation

It’s been a long two days. Since my last post we spent six hours waiting in the airport, took a bumpy ride into Halifax and thought hard about making the drive to the farm but were thwarted by the oncoming storm. Had the flight left on time, or even close to it, we could have made it to the farm ahead of the severe weather, but with half an inch of snow on the ground already I wasn’t risking it. We ended up spending the night at Nellie’s cousin’s place — which was an adventure in itself — and making the mildly treacherous drive to the farm yesterday. When we left the cousin’s place the power was out; when we reached the farm the power was out there as well. Awesome.

It wasn’t a problem not having power during the day — we were happy just to arrive, finally and in one piece — but as it turned dark and the temperature outside fell, the house began to cool off. A LOT. We also discovered that we were the only two houses around without power, so with tens of thousands of people around the province without power that night we figured we weren’t high on the fix-it list. My parents called the info line and left messages, but we decided the best place for us was in the car, so we took a trip into town, ostensibly for dinner and groceries, but also to keep warm. Good thing, too; the temperature outside had fallen to numbing levels. Returning home, we crossed our fingers as we got close to the farm, but no dice. Or, rather: no lights.

A few hours later, wrapped up in blankets, we saw a power truck pull up. They told us it was a blown transformer and predicted we’d have to wait at least another day for a replacement to be put in, so we went to bed early, wrapped in swaddling comfiness, hoping to sleep through the coldest of it. Happily the workers — who had been going for 36 straight hours, in what must have been -30 windchill — found a plan B and our power came on. I’ve never been so happy to hear the smoke detector chirp.

Today I woke up, stood on the hot-air register downstairs, microwaved myself a croissant and luxuriated in the feeling of my first shower in two days. I luxuriated in the flush toilets as well, but nobody needs to hear about that. Suffice it to say modern living was a big hit this morning when everyone got up.

No time to waste, though. My father still hadn’t done his Christmas shopping, so off we all went to Moncton. Some five hours later we’d braved malls and power centers, and eaten Festive Specials ’til we burst, and returned home to relax, at last. We inspected my brother’s newly-renovated house next door, during which time I was humiliated at foosball by my nine-year-old nephew, but quickly learned how to play and beat him in the next two games. Pwned. Then Nellie wrapped presents while Dad and I did battle at cribbage, and now we’re all just laying about stuffing our faces with bonbons* until we fall asleep. Now THIS is what I flew back to Nova Scotia for.

Tomorrow I’ll have to wrap presents and help my mother make apple pies, but if those are my chores I’ll happily struggle through. If I don’t have time to blog again before tomorrow night, then Merry Christmas everybody!

* To date: chocolate-covered peanut butter balls, chocolate macaroons, peanut butter chocolate drop cookies, three kinds of fudge and Lindt chocolates. Up next: my father’s homemade strawberry ice cream. Then sweet, sweet cardiac failure.

My brain and eyes might just explode

Yowzah, that was quite a morning. I guess not going home this year freed us up to purchase some bigger-ticket items for each other (which we normally wouldn’t want to try to get on a plane), so I am now the proud owner of a Blu-ray DVD player and Nellie now has a wine fridge. We certainly got lots of other cool stuff as well, but suffice it to say the DVD player’s been a little distracting; I’ve already hooked it up and watched Superbad.

I also got 300, the Spider-Man Trilogy and the seemingly-made-for-high-def BBC series Planet Earth on Blu-ray, as well as The Bourne Ultimatum in standard DVD format (it’s only on HD-DVD for now). Nellie got Freaks And Geeks: Season 1, Young Guns, Young Guns 2 and Never Been Kissed.

I got a few books too: My Boring-Ass Life by Kevin Smith, The Book Of Dave by Will Self and The Cult Of The Amateur by Andrew Keen. Nellie got A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore.

Right now Nellie’s making Christmas dinner (everything except the turkey, of course) while A Christmas Story plays in the background. I don’t know if she’ll be able to top last night’s kick-ass meal (lemon pepper shrimp, scallops, cheese, chocolate & a bottle of white wine I bought her last year) but I’m willing to let her try.

Happy Christmas, everyone.

[tags]christmas, blu-ray, wine fridge[/tags]