Christmas 1994

It’s the coldest day of the winter so far and my windows are covered with snow. Having mistakenly ditched this letter once already, along the shoulder of the information super highway, I need to try again quickly if I’m going to get it mailed early enough. As if zapping the letter wasn’t bad enough I then started printing this one and found I needed a new ribbon cartridge. I dashed over to Yonge Street to buy one. It did me good to get out. It brought a smile to my day.

I am struck by the big changes that have occurred in 1994, most of which don’t lead me to gales of laughter. So much of the year seems to have been filtered through depression, grief and isolation fa la la la la la la la la. I was one of the last to realize that the tail of depression has, once again, been wagging the dog that is life.

I can see that I withdrew quite a bit this year or, at least, changed directions. It didn’t kill me either although, at times, it seemed like I was buried alive. I left my support group at the AIDS Committee of Toronto just in time for my “care group” at church to fold. (I’m working on getting into another one.)

Committing to the church choir has been good for me. I need human contact with friends once in awhile – who doesn’t? – to take my pulse, figuratively speaking.

When my glass is half empty this is the year that my heart seemed to break when my friend Jim passed away, the same-sex spousal rights debate was lost – although I really enjoyed the work involved – and my beloved Tiger died suddenly two weeks ago. When the glass is half full I’m grateful that Jim didn’t have to suffer any longer, the gay community made our presence felt at the provincial legislature in a mostly respectable way, and Tiger was given another year of life that didn’t seem possible when she was so sick fourteen months ago.

I was among the noise-makers at the legislature the day the vote was taken on whether or not to extend spousal benefits to same-sex partners, as is done in common-law heterosexual cases. The public galleries, filled to the rafters, erupted in chaos when the votes had been tallied (we lost). Some of us managed to get through metal detectors with whistles (plastic) which we blew as we went limp and were dragged outside by security guards, shouting “Shame! Shame!” Actually once the cameras had gone somewhere else, I offered to walk rather than be dragged. Still I was kind of handed over people’s heads until I was outside where I spotted evangelist Ken Campbell. I brow-beat him all the way out to the traffic of Queen’s Park Circle. This had to be among my favourite moments of 1994!

It has seemed to be a struggle, unlike past years, to get into the holiday spirit. Happily it has nudged me this week. My Christmas cactus may not bloom in time but my mood has picked up.

Yesterday I went on a mission to buy Christmas cards. I might as well have been looking for a deal on gold, frankincense and myrrh. In store after store clerks flashed me vacant looks as if to say “Do you mean Hallowe’en boxes?” when I asked for UNICEF cards. I had to settle for some a little less philanthropic.

Yes I’m sad to report that Tiger couldn’t have a tenth life and died in late November. It was the same weekend last year, the American Thanksgiving holiday, that Tiger had gone into the vet’s so terribly ill. I miss her a lot. Blue has missed her too but is also quite happy to muscle in on Tiger’s territory. She really warmed up to me once she figured out that Tiger wasn’t coming back. I’m grateful to have her company. Now if only she would eat in the kitchen. (I used to feed them in separate rooms as Tiger would fight for Blues’ food when she had finished her own.)

Looking back over an entire year makes me realize that my health has slipped a little – and yet I can still look after myself if we overlook eating which continues to be a challenge!) It used to be that whenever my physical condition faltered I made up for it mentally or spiritually, and vice versa. This past summer and fall I seemed to be inconsolable at times, yet resisting treatment for depression again. Unfortunately my stalling meant it took much longer to feel better once I had decided that I wanted to. Even prayer didn’t comfort me at times – especially those times when I refused to pray!

My vocal chords are getting plenty of work these days. Tonight there’s a holiday pageant at church that I’m singing in, choir practices every Thursday, Tafelmusik’s “Sing Along Messiah” is next week, followed by a service of lessons and carols in the evening and Christmas Eve at Roy Thomson Hall. We’ve assembled a choir of more than seventy voices to sing the Hallelujah Chorus. This is the third or fourth year my church has taken over the concert hall for a community Christmas.

I’ll be heading for Perth on Christmas Day. This will be the first time in a few years that we will all be together. Janice will go from Hamilton, Craig and Claude will drive up from Montreal, and Lynn is flying from Fredericton. Hopefully we’ll do lots of eating and sleeping.

Poor Lucien Bouchard! Our family knows what he’s going through. Necrotising Fasciitis is the same bacteria that made it necessary to “fillet” Mom a couple of years ago. She didn’t need anything amputated and scraped out of it with just a hernia after three months in hospital. She’s written him a letter of good wishes but I’m certain she hasn’t been converted to separatist.

It’s been such fun watching a neighbour’s kid playing in the snow for the first time. I hope Santa finds him. Did you hear about the idiot burglar down in the States who got stuck in a chimney? I saw it on “Rescue 9-1-1”. He told cops he figured he could fit down the chimney since Santa always does! They had to break up the chimney to get him out, stereo and all!

Well another year is almost behind us. I hope this finds you and your loved ones healthy and I send best wishes for 1995.



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