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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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christmas report

Sara and Annie

Taking a brief breather in the midst of the holiday chaos to catch up a bit. In the past four days, we've been to five Christmas parties/dinners around Toronto and out near Orangeville. During that time, my dinner has ranged from cheese and bread (no time to have a proper dinner between parties so I foraged in one host's cupboards) to turkey to roast beef to ham. Settings have also varied, from a quiet gathering in a friend's living room to the affectionate chaos of my cousins' buffet dinner to the crystal-and-china elegance of the Ridpath Christmas Eve feast.

cousin's party

We enjoyed all, but on drives between the various events, Jeff and I tried to figure out a way how to simplify future Christmas holidays. Tough call, though. On the one hand, each gathering has a special significance and is one we wouldn't want to miss. On the other hand, the combined effect is that we often end up stressed out and exhausted. I overheard the hosts of one of the above-mentioned parties say, "God, I can't WAIT until all this is over!" in reference to Christmas visits and events, after cleaning up after her own party and was getting ready to attend another. :-(

The situation reminds me a great deal of what happens at my favourite filk conventions. They are wonderful events and I wouldn't miss them for the world, but I always feel somewhat cheated at the end of each...there is never enough time to spend with the friends who gather there in addition to attending the concerts and workshops and open filks. As a partial solution, I've been trying to spend extra time with some of these friends outside of conventions, but geography and finances make this difficult (even more difficult in 2002, when I am ramping up my freelance writing career again).

star decoration

A complicating factor in the Christmas holiday is that it's generally a time when out-of-town friends and family come to visit (so it's not as if one could easily arrange to get together some other time, at least not without making elaborate and possibly expensive travel plans).

I'd be interested in hearing how all of you handle the holiday season, especially from those who have multiple family/friend holiday parties. Do you get stressed over the holidays? Do you try to do too much? Maybe you find that your holidays are TOO quiet. Or maybe you just don't care. :-) Please post your comments in Blatherchat.

Me and nieces

Here are a few highlights of the Christmas holiday for me so far:

- Going to see the Nutcracker ballet with Ruth, Sara, and Annie. It was Annie's first time at the ballet. She sat beside me on a booster seat (we could only get good tickets in two pairs, so Ruth and Sara sat elsewhere in the row), clutching her wooden Nutcracker toy and gazing wide-eyed at the costumed dancers on stage. By the end of the performance, her head was leaning on my arm; she was fast asleep.

- Seeing Parki's expression when he was presented with a Christmas gift that some of us had pooled resources to buy (a teller's window that he had been lusting over in an antique's shop).

- My Christmas gift from Jeff. He had put together a memory box package for me with photos from our sabbatical. There were three little booklets, each representing a different aspect of our time together, and each containing photos he had selected from our archives, modified in Photoshop, cropped, and printed. He put all three in a beautiful wooden box with a photo displayed under glass in the cover, a picture taken at the Wickinninish Inn where the housekeeping staff had arranged our robes in the shape of a heart on our bed. I gave Jeff a tape of a song I had written for him. :-)

xmas tag

- My cousin Naomi's Christmas party. I only tend to see my cousins at weddings, funerals, and the annual Christmas party, despite the fact that I really like them. I'm determined that 2002 will be different. Naomi and I have been e-mailing about plans to get together during the year, rather than wait until next December again. I've also started up an online mailing list to help the Ohi/Kajioka clan keep in better touch.

- When a wrapped Christmas gift my dad-in-law had sent with us for Brittany got accidentally activated as we drove out to Jeff's mom's place. The gift turned out to be a Barbie CD/cassette player. Jeff finally had to rip open the gift to shut the thing off, else we would have had to hear badly recorded hiphop muzack all the way to Ginny's place, along with a perky, "C'MON, girls, let's get up and DANCE!"

- Christmas morning walk out at my mom-in-law's place in the country with Jeff and his parents. We bundled up in hats and mitts and coats, but the wind was still so cold that my cheeks started going numb. Gorgeous day...sunny, brisk wind, snow on the ground.

- Christmas carol sing at my sister's place last night, before we had dinner. Sara had organized it, and even written a little speech to introduce the event. She had hand-prepared and illustrated a carol book in case some of us didn't know all the words, and then played the carols herself on the piano. I was bursting with pride, of course. :-)

Jeff and Brittany

Today my Dad is taking us out for lunch at King's Garden along with Ruth, Kaarel, Sara and Annie. This is another longstanding tradition in my family that became altered a bit over the years. Dad and Mom used to always go to Sai Woo's on Boxing Day (Sai Woo's used to be a well-known Chinese restaurant in downtown Toronto), and continued to do so even after having kids. I remember we always used to get bamboo scroll calendars when we left. Sadly, Sai Woo's shut down two years ago, so we decided to move Boxing Day lunch to King's Garden instead, a Chinese restaurant that's about a three minute walk away from our apartment.

Scott D. arrives at our place today, and will be staying for several days. We might also be seeing Parki and Andrew Platzer this afternoon.

Hope you're all having a great winter holiday....

Ridpath xmas drinks


- Sara and Annie last night. Annie is wearing a paper mask and crown that came with her "Secret Princess Handbook" given to her by my dad.

- Dec. 23rd Christmas party at my cousin's place. From left to right: my cousin Daniel, Ruth, cousin Naomi.

- One of the napkin holders at the Ridpath Christmas dinner.

- Annie, me, and Sara at the Nutcracker.

- Tag from one of Sara's Christmas presents. Inside was a homemade pin made from coloured beads.

- Jeff and Brittany at his mom's place.

- Drinks cooling in the sink just before the Ridpath Christmas dinner.

Today's Poll:

Did you enjoy Christmas? YES if it was a positive event overall, NO if you were more relieved when it was over.

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