Connecting with friends at Christmas!

With the promise of wind, rain and cool weather today it was appropriate for sleeping late. But the moment I arose I saw that my email in-basket was pleasingly visited with a number of messages from friends. It was that time of year to connect with friends at Christmas! I punctuated the welcome ceremony by adding a cup of black coffee to my ritual morning repast of sliced green Granny apple and sprouted multi-grain toast with Kerrygold Irish salted butter, peanut butter and honey.

Last evening in anticipation of the upcoming conviviality, my erstwhile physician tethered with us by FaceTime to share his good cheer and joviality. His communications are energizing. This was as always a singular event because my erstwhile physician is a hard man to capture.  He is a man of adventurous dreams, spinning his way constantly about the globe. Granted his voyages began many decades ago nearby the South Atlantic Ocean and have continued by inheritance through his daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter to the South Pacific Ocean which effectively means his voyages like those of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve cross from the North Atlantic Ocean around the world (though whether from left to right of from right to left is impossible for the casual observer to fix).

Another friend – a former undergraduate colleague – shared with us a more succinct message this morning. His recent transition from the bench to the undisturbed composition of published jurisprudence has no doubt moderately afforded him the formerly infrequent satisfaction of connecting with old friends.

Meanwhile an unanticipated but hugely animated communication came from friends in our rural hometown. Uniquely they were both interviewed from Montréal on a morning radio talk show on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The novel occasion served not only to re-connect with them but also to highlight the inexpressible merit of the people in our small country town. The anecdotes they shared with the interviewers also emphasized the cathartic value of cooking (which the husband has gleefully adopted after his wife abandoned the craft years ago in the interest of weight loss).  He has further broadened his evolving culinary skill by studying at a highly reputed cooking school in London, England. His wife parenthetically reported on historic culinary custom in northern Germany whence she derives her pedigree.

A long-standing friend (who has recently recovered from a serious health issue) shared with us her burgeoning enthusiasm to have a role in Christmas with her new granddaughter. Already she has made plans to read a Christmas story to her granddaughter, an exploit which is reminiscent of my own childhood.  To this day I readily recall the many images and excitement associated with Christmas. No doubt for this reason, listening to Bing Crosby and Judy Garland sing traditional Christmas classics (“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” and “Have yourself a merry little Christmas”) has also reignited my fits and starts of tearful Christmas gusto.

Whether out of habit or as deference to the credentials of living, I interrupted these pleasurable communications to take the airs and an improving ride on my tricycle. En route I stopped at the island pool to relish the final moments of the setting sun from above the poolside trees; and, naturally I undertook the enterprise of a late afternoon swim which I found to be unusually gratifying.  I swam several or more lengths, dipping underwater, paddling upon the water and deliberately stretching my weakened spine and arthritic rib cage. I believe I have profited by this moderate exertion.  Certainly one unrelated advantage was the acquaintance of John and Carolyn from Missouri.  “Big John” (as I call him for purposes of remembering his name) is an entertaining (tall) fellow, inclined to humorous anecdotes reminding me of the chaps with whom I breakfasted at the local coffee shop for over thirty years. My brief conversation with his wife Carolyn was equally inspiring.

The final resort today by email was with a woman whom I have known for at least 50 years or more. She is an Old Girl of one of the girls’ schools with whom the boys from my school traditionally associated.  More importantly however she is the sister of a former classmate with whom I once had an avid relationship but which has regrettably dissolved over the past many decades. The division is by no means either improbable or unfortunate because there have been some serious intervening events in both our lives, his in particular following what I understand to have been a violent car accident. Normally I would not have addressed the digression (particularly at this sensitive time of year) because such is life. But his sister alluded to her brother in her email to me and it provoked what has been a simmering concern of mine for years. I can’t imagine that it has not been curious to her that until now I have never mentioned the apparent division between me and her brother (unless of course she knows more than I about the matter in which case I can only assume her reference was calculated to instil a response from me). Coincidentally I mentioned to her the further (and perfectly understandable) growing distance between me and another school chum who similarly has lately suffered a disturbing family death. I apologized for what might simply be my curmudgeonly behaviour. Nonetheless I have now advanced beyond any interest in ambivalence.  There just isn’t enough time left for it.  Which, come to think of it, is probably why it is so important to expend one’s time upon those with whom we’re lucky enough to maintain the currency of friendship.