Returning home from Christmas in Nova Scotia

Though we've spent our (adult life) Christmases in Maine, Alberta and the Gaspe Peninsula, the place we've had the most Christmases is Nova Scotia, at my parent's house.

When we lived on the Gaspe we often hosted Christmas because with snow and skiing right outside our door we wanted to stay put and make the most of our Christmas holiday doing activities we loved outdoors, so family came to us.

Those were good Christmases but going to my parents for Christmas is a gift, especially in a year like this one.

Christmas is a lot of work and energy - the food, gifts, decorations. And for our family, scattered as we are across eastern Canada, Christmas also means hosting out-of-town family. Though I've enjoyed hosting Christmas in previous years, this year going to my parents was an incredible gift.

Although we put up a tree and did a wee bit of decorating in our apartment, I didn't have much energy for making Christmas, the celebration, happen.

Life is seasonal. We go through ups and downs and sometimes we need help and support in those down times and Christmas with my parents and my brother's family this year was like that. It was a support in a difficult and stressful life season. Not only that but it was restful and fun!

Christmas Eve caroling

I really rested at my parents, and took a mental break from "all the things" that occupy my life right now. I still did a fair amount of cooking and I did the meal scheduling and other planning involved in hosting twelve people for multiple days (management is my gig). But when that's all you have to do there's still plenty of time for sleeping in, walks, napping and reading. Thanks Mom & Dad for this gift.

At the end of our 7 day trip (two of those are 14 hour driving days) both Damien and I came home to new jobs. Damien secured a full time job the day before we left for Nova Scotia and he starts mid-January. He'll continue to work from home, it's a remote position, but he'll be employed by a company (with all the benefits that confers) instead of working for individual clients, a situation that wasn't meeting our financial needs.

My job has started already, the day after we returned from Nova Scotia. It's baptism by fire as I stepped into the position during a time of high work volume. I'll tell you more about it later. It's still so new and fresh.

This is not how I usually end the holiday, with a focus on working but it's what is necessary. I've been looking for part-time employment since September, and I've started work on other projects and small contracts, and with the addition of this job I think I've pieced together a viable part-time work solution.

Christmas dinner before the power went out

I'm cautiously optimistic and I'll tell you more about it in the future, after the dust settles. For now, I'm setting aside the usual tasks of end of December/early January to focus on working and I hope to catch my breath, and do my usual reflecting and planning in the second week of January.

Christmas dinner after the power went out, candlelight and headlamps

We'll be flying by the seat of our pants for the next week in the housework. We came home to an empty fridge and I won't have time to do a big shopping trip till midweek, next week. I feel like such a newbie at this part-time work gig. We're in transition, which I'm never comfortable with. But it's needed change and I'm grateful for the work which will help us dig out of the debt.

There's a lot more swirling around in my head and heart that I'd like to digest and explore: the spiritual significance of these transitions and the changes that continually sweep over and through our lives - is my family ready for this change, am I?; the frigid cold we're experiencing in Montreal (I love it, it feels like such an honest winter); my relief and gratitude at finding work; the many questions I have about how and if my current jobs will help me reach my long-term goals, goals which are hard for me to articulate (ideation and vision-work are not my strengths) but lie within me like an ember of hope and desire, nascent dreams for who I want to be, and how I want to live.

Lots to process, not much time in the moment. Here's hoping I'll be able to preserve those precious days I've blocked out on the calendar marked "planning and reflection".

Happy New Year. See you in 2018.

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When all the hype feels meaningless (and other New Year's reflections) »
  • Jen Liminal Luminous

    Jen Liminal Luminous on Dec. 30, 2017, 5:06 p.m.

    Congratulations on finding a new way of working for you both. Remember to be kind to yourself as you do adjust, it will take time. Also, this might not be the right solution, but it's a step forward. These things are iterative. I struggle with this idea, that things aren't set in stone, but we can change them a bit at a time until we get there. But I've found it does help me a great deal. Like you say transitions are difficult.

    Good luck to you all in this time of change and do let us know more about your work when you feel ready to.

    I too struggle to fully articulate what it is I am trying to achieve.... you sharing your story helps me to think through mine too, even though I am child free and on the other side of the world to you!


  • Karen Toews

    Karen Toews on Jan. 2, 2018, 5:40 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing our family Christmas as viewed through your heart and camera lens. It was a gift for your Dad and I to have you and everyone here---do save and savour those days of planning and reflection. xo Mom


  • Susan

    Susan on Jan. 3, 2018, 9:30 p.m.

    Press the easy button on meals for the next few weeks, and have the kids do some of the shopping and prep. It is hard to spend your mental energy in multiple directions at once when one of them is highly taxing like learning a new job!

    Congrats to you both on the new gigs. I hope they help bring some peace and security to your family in 2018!


    • Renee

      Renee on Jan. 5, 2018, 4:34 p.m.

      Susan, you know it! Everything is on "easy" mode right besides coming up to speed with this job. And times like this, and many others, I'm so grateful everyone in the family cooks, and can do basic grocery shopping at the local store. (thanks in no small part to the effort spent training and mentoring in that area - totally pays off!)

      Thanks for your virtual high fives.


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