In my earlier days, a part of me thrived on stress. Believe it or not, I have favourite Christmas shopping memories. I remember, during high school, stepping out of the house on a Saturday afternoon and going around the city looking to check off the items on my Christmas list.
It was the middle of December in Toronto; one of those grey and slushy days. I headed up to George's Trains on Mount Pleasant near Davisville. After savouring the model railroading equipment, I walked north and stopped in a nearby Shoppers Drug Mart and picked up a box of Christmas cards, and a paperback copy of Douglas Adam's Long Dark Teatime of the Soul for a friend (Jim, one of the many I never saw again after the commencement ceremony a couple of years later).
The crowds, the car traffic, the slush and the chill would be enough to drive any sane adult insane. The sounds of wailing children would drive even the insane adults completely bonkers. But I didn't mind it. As I found what I was looking for, I came home feeling a rush of accomplishment. This may be related to why some people skydive or bungee jump.
I finished my Christmas shopping yesterday. Fairview Mall (at Don Mills and Sheppard) was absolutely insane (especially the food court), but I caught a hint of that old buzz. Perhaps it was from touring the Sheppard subway for the first time. (It's a great line. I can't wait until they extend it!)
Dan, Martin and I didn't end up seeing a movie. Dan was too jazzed by Star Trek: Nemesis to want to watch Harry Potter and on no account did Martin want anything to do with Star Trek. The result was an impasse. But that was okay; we all had things to buy. We took the subway back to Bloor-Yonge and walked down Yonge Street, checking out used bookstores as we went.
Erin has been working hard decorating the house for Christmas in anticipation of the visitors we're expecting over the holidays. That may be one thing giving this season a more Christmas feeling than last year at this time.
This will be the first time in four years that Erin and I will be home here for Christmas. Fortunately, if we can't go to see Erin's friends and family, they'll come to see us. We expect to see my mother-in-law Rosemarie, her husband Michael, my sister-in-law Wendy and her husband Lars. When they head home, Erin's friends Wayne, Marguerite and Therese will be coming over.
This will also be my first paid vacation since 1999. I have a feeling I'm going to enjoy it.