Dad

It’s 9:41PM and Lea, Mara and I have just come home from a full day.  It’s Boxing Day, so it was inevitable that we would find ourselves at a shopping mall looking for good deals on all kinds of things.

Today is also the 32nd anniversary of my father’s passing.  Ironically, he died on Boxing Day 1978 – a day that he loved.  He loved looking for deals on this date, loved shopping on this date, and (from what I heard) especially loved to score wrapping paper at cheap prices to use for the following Christmas.

I (and my brother) hate shopping. If it has nothing to do with a book, a CD or a film, then I want nothing to do with that particular shop.  Things do change, and I think I am a little more tolerable towards shopping than I was , say, 10 years ago.  But, it’s something that I don’t normally enjoy doing.  And it makes me laugh knowing that my father loved shopping.  It makes me wonder if there were other things that we didn’t have in common.

For the last three years that I have been blogging, I have been putting up pieces from a short story I wrote in 2007 entitled Answers where I had finally written down all of the conflicted feelings and sadness that I feel around my Father.  Till about 5 minutes ago, I thought I was going to put another portion from that story.

Instead, at the final hour, I have decided that I won’t.

I don’t remember my father, but I miss him.  I know that the person that I am now would perhaps not be if my father had been in my life longer than those 2 years and 4 months.  But, I think this year the best tribute that I can give to him is the knowing that perhaps I am getting to know him through becoming a father of my own.  Through watching my daughter grow up, and being there for her 100%, and interacting with her – in some way, I am finally inherently knowing who my father was in some way.

And for that, I am eternally grateful.

 

Christmas Songs

For me, the best Christmas song ever recorded is Nat King Cole’s rendition of “The Christmas Song” – his tone, his enunciation, the production – just beautiful in my opinion.

You can never get Christmas songs quite right.  Every year, a whole slew of artists release Christmas albums.  If you’re smart, you stick to the standards and do your own take on them.  This year, Annie Lennox released a Christmas album (A Christmas Cornucopia).  One of my favorite Christmas songs is the Eurythmics version of “Winter Wonderland” – so it makes me happy to this that Ms. Annie has recorded a yuletide collection.

But, then there’s the inevitable “original” Christmas song where current artists think that they can write a “new Christmas classic”.  More often than not, this always ends badly.  As timeless as Christmas will always be, Christmas songwriting is actually a lot more difficult that one might believe.

I think the last “great’ new Christmas classic was Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”.  That was in 1994.   No one since had gotten it right for the most part.  Though I do admit that Serena Ryder’s “Calling To Say” is quite possibly my most played Christmas song over the last couple of years.

So, here are my favorite Christmas songs:

“The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole

“Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney

“Calling To Say” by Serena Ryder

“Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon and Yoko Ono

“What Christmas Means To Me” by Stevie Wonder

“Winter Wonderland” by Eurythmics

“Mary’s Boy Child” by Harry Belafonte

“White Christmas” by Bing Crosby

“2000 Miles” by The Pretenders

“Little Saint Nick” by The Beach Boys

“Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” by David Bowie and Bing Crosby

“The Chipmunk Song” by The Chipmunks

And you?

An old friend named Writer’s Block

Everybody left – and she was alone.

That was the first line that popped into my head, and got me excited to start writing again.  For close to a year or so, I have been ready to write a new short story on fatherhood and what it means to me.  I had originally started writing something a couple of months back and stopped it.  Upon looking at it again a couple of weeks ago, I deleted the entire thing.  It wasn’t genuine; it was trying too hard.

So, then entered the idea that my main character, her, would be left alone after a wake for her father.  I was excited, the juices were flowing; that ping pong feeling that I get when I start to write came to me after such a long hibernation (my last story Following, I had finished at the beginning of 2009 – see previous blog post to read it).  But, as quickly as the excitement came – the entire thing went out the window.  And now I find myself revisited by my old friend: writer’s block.

Ahh, yes.  Nice to feel you again.  Nice to re-acquaint while I metaphorically bash my head against a wall.

Sigh.

It then has occurred to me that perhaps I should be hiding behind characters and actually write something directly from me.  Perhaps I need to be the narrator, the character – and then the rest will unfold.

Is that where I should go?

Prophet

I was only 4 years old when John Lennon was killed – that was 30 years ago today.

Growing up in my house, I could see what an influence he and The Beatles had on my brother.  I could see that his death definitely had an impact on him – though I was too young to know why.

Fast forward to the summer of 2003 – that was the summer that I discovered The Beatles.  I was 27 years old.  I decided that the time was right.  I unearthed my brother’s VHS copy of The Beatles Anthology and plowed through the entire thing.  What a journey.  I couldn’t describe it.  That was my initiation.  That was also the year I decided to pick up a guitar and learn how to play.  (Still an amateur, but definitely in deep love with that instrument.)

As time wore on, I discovered John and his music.  How forward thinking he was; how he had evolved from a guy in a pop band into someone intent on attaining a higher level of being.  The music I heard, the stuff I read – it’s no joke when I say (as I do still), that he seemed like a modern-day prophet.

I fell into all of this really late in the game, but it was better late than never.  I can never imagine what it must have been like to live through a tragedy like that – for all of the Elvises and Kurt Cobains and Michael Jacksons that have come and gone through this life, I can only imagine what it must have been like for young people 30 years ago to hear that their beloved John was shot down and taken away.  I feel sad just thinking about it, and yet it is something that I will not completely understand.

I think what I love the most about John Lennon is the reverie and holiness that seems to come to people when they talk about him.  Witnessing that moment where everyone in the Rogers Centre stood up and gave him a standing ovation at the McCartney concert this past August – that was something greater than you and I happening in front of me.

Not many people can conjure that.

14 women – 21 years ago

Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault,
Anne-Marie Edward,Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair,
Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault,
Annie Turcotte, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.

These are the names of the women who, 21 years ago today, were gunned down at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal.  They were killed because they were women.

I was 13 years old when this happened.  I remember being completely saddened by this, not fully understanding the scope with which this incident would shake me for years to come.  This was before school shootings were frequent front page news items, this was before anything.  This was something different.  This was heartless and cold.  I remember thinking about these girls’ parents, and how their Christmas was going to be so sad and lonely.  I remember seeing the image of Genevieve Bergeron’s smiling face in The Gazette, and thinking that she was always going to be smiling and the age that she was forever.

Every year for 21 years, December 6th has haunted me.  It makes sad, and weighs down my heart.  I think it’s because for each of these passing years, I come to learn a bit more what can make people tick.   I will never understand why this incident happened, but as time goes on, it’s something that I never forget.  I find myself, upon thinking about it, teary eyed still just thinking about the whole thing; thinking about what this footprint has done to Canadian society.

December 6, 1989 changed everything for everyone – and I find myself realizing that more and more as time goes on.  I think that’s why I get sadder with each year that passes and I remember.

In a couple of hours, it will be December 7th and another marked year will have passed.  Let us never forget the impact of this.  Let us become more socially aware of who we are and our effect on each other.  Let us make sure that something like this never happens again.