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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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ohi xmas party

Went to my dad's last night for his annual Ohi/Kajioka family festivities. A huge ton of food! Loved seeing the kids attack the presents after dinner. :-) That's part of Christmas for me, trying to navigate through a room around crumpled wrapping paper and electronic toys, tinsel and ribbon. I helped clean up afterwards, and stayed overnight.

Forgot to give a report of my movie night with Craig. It was the opening day of a big AMC movie complex out in Oakville, and we went to see LIVING OUT LOUD (with Holly Hunter and Danny de Vito) and THE PRINCE OF EGYPT. Enjoyed both movies, and the second had some neat computer graphics. We had dollar hot dogs and 25 cent popcorn. :-) (opening day special)

Topic for today: Christmas card lists. Do any of you have a list of people whose contact with you is a Christmas card, once a year? My general philosophy is that when you reach the once-a-year Christmas card ritual, what's really the point of keeping up the contact at all? If the person is worth your friendship, then both of you should be putting in the effort necessary to maintain it, whether through phonecalls, email, snailmail, or getting together every once in a while.
And of course, that goes both ways. Life is too short for one-sided friendships.

My one exception is my penpal, Frank Mrowka. I met Frank (sort of) years ago when I lived on St. Patrick Street in Village By The Grange in the late 80's. One of my Favourite Things are helium red balloons; it used to be one of my secret vices, probably stemming from a favourite childhood story called THE RED BALLOON (also made into a French film, I think). Anyway, one day I was feeling down, so went out and bought myself a red helium balloon to cheer myself up. My usual ritual was to go somewhere quiet, out in the open, and let it go. In my mind, I would also "let go" of whatever was stressing me out or getting me down that day. Sounds silly, but it usually worked for me.

Anyway, on this particular day, I decided on whim to tie a note to my balloon. I drew a little cartoon sketch of myself and included my name and address (yeah, I know, I was a bit nuts back then) and sent it off. This was from the middle of the street in downtown Toronto, and the sky was very clear that day. A few weeks later, I got a letter from a young boy (7 or 8, I think) in Lockport, New York. Turns out his father had found the balloon in a tree in their fruit orchard! Frank and I corresponded steadily for years. Last I heard, he was around 14 and on the high school basketball team. That was a couple years ago, but I still feel compelled to send him a Christmas card once a year, just for old time's sake.

I don't do the red balloon thing anymore. I don't like the idea of my dying balloons landing who-knows-where, and also now prefer to confront problems and stresses directly rather than "wishing them away". But every so often, I'll pass a party shop or a summer street vendor with a huge handful of balloons, and feel a twinge of nostalgia. :-)

Jeff's coming home from Calgary tonight!

Still haven't finished my Christmas shopping, argh.

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