Friday, 24 December 2010

In "havenly" peace

I've always seen Christmas as a dark but brightly lit harbour, and the old year as a stately ship (or at least a ferry boat), slowly drawing in to the quay. This past week, I've felt the engines change, and despite the Christmas flurry around us, a drifting sensation as we close on the safety of land, if only for a brief time before we get shoved back out to sea in January.

Christmas in Hades has much of the same comforting familiarity as anywhere else, I suppose, providing you do, in fact, take comfort in Christmas. Last Sunday, we were enveloped in the warmth and laughter of the annual Vinyl Café Christmas concert. I looked down from our loge upon a theatre jam-packed with pullover-wearing university types of all ages, and once again felt myself swept away by the performance of Matt Andersen who sang "People Get Ready" and "Silent Night" (and I'm not even that enamoured of "Silent Night"). John Sheard played "The Rocking Carol" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem" (the English version) and I was assailed by memories of Sunday School at the Unitarian Church of Edmonton. Actually, we sang another song to the tune of the latter:
The children of far-distant lands
With joyful song we greet
Hold out to us your friendly hands
Our circle to complete.
Around the world, so very wide,
Our circle it shall be
Goodwill and friendship need no tide
Nor ships to cross the sea.

As the week has passed, I saw the same sort of things you probably see as you have walked out these last days before Christmas: a family with one young blond girl in flowered snow boots carrying the potted poinsettia; two women sitting in a cafeteria, talking intently with the gift bags they've exchanged resting by their feet; a large blond dog trotting in and out of the traffic jam on Beechwood Avenue.

Wait -- you don't usually see that last item? Yes, I thought it was odd, too. I was on my way to the post office when I saw the dog and heard the frantic woman in pursuit: "Puppy! Here, puppy!" He gave her a "You talkin' to me?" look and continued to wend his way between the cars, some of which were impatiently trying to move. She followed, increasingly frantic: "Puppy! Puppy!"

Hmmn, I thought. She doesn't know his name. He trotted up the opposite sidewalk, very quickly, without actually running (he was very large), and the woman called ahead to a man waiting at the walk signal. I saw him duck, but the dog reappeared, now smack in the middle of the intersection of St Patrick and the Vanier Parkway which has a record of being one of the five most dangerous intersections in Ottawa. Another man appeared, clutching a red leash, and after some heart-stopping circling the dog managed to get to the traffic island on the far side, next to the Saint Patrick bridge, then loped toward the cycling path that follows the Rideau River, where he could theoretically proceed relatively unimpeded along the edge of Vanier, clear to Riverside. There was a car parked near the traffic light, bearing a sign reading "Pet Care Cab". I had the sinking feeling that this dog was being kenneled for the holiday and had escaped his caregivers. Yikes. It's one thing to lose your own dog, but someone else's dog...

May you never lose your dog. Or someone else's dog. May young children bring you love offerings and may you share a meal with an old friend. Most of all, may you find yourself in the warm and comforting dark of this holiday harbour, in the company of those who love you.

Merry Christmas.


Volly said...

I certainly like your Christmas/New Year analogy. January does have that cold starkness to it. It occurred to me recently that Christmas is (literally and figuratively) the cluttered room, with paper, boxes and unneeded junk scattered randomly. January is when you sweep it all out and take a deep breath, wondering what the room will look like 12 months later,

Hope "puppy" was safely recaptured, and that his reckless flight wasn't due to maltreatment by Red-Leash Man and the woman in the pet-care cab.

Persephone said...

"Puppy" didn't looked terrified, cowed, or even defiant. He had the air of "Excuse me, do I know you?" I hope he's safe, too. Peace and good stuff.

Nimble said...

What a lovely image of the safe Christmas harbor. I love Christmas eve because I like to imagine the winter quiet of the world. Now that I'm a parent and responsible for the next day's events it's less of a vigil and more of a scramble. But I still look forward to. May the voyage of the next year bring good things for you and yours.

Persephone said...

Right back atcha, Nimble.

Rob said...

"May you never lose your puppy in the cold" John Martyn might have said.