Photo flurry.

The most important part of Christmas is my least favourite. It’s not Jesus because this Atheist likes him more than spending time with family, either mine or my partner’s. I do have a cold heart (you’ll see in a bit), but it’s because attending these gatherings as the lone deaf person always ends the same. I first had this realization when I bought a flight “home” for Christmas the first year I lived in Calgary, only to realize that my family found it too burdensome to include me. I came into the kitchen on Christmas morning to find that everybody was having breakfast without me.

The next year, I spent it with my then-partner and his family, and it was even worse because I had to act like I was enjoying myself. I could tell my family that they sucked for not including me, but I had to be gracious towards my in-laws no matter what. I was there out of sheer obligation. My former in-laws had mostly been friendly, and there’d always be a family member or two who made a real effort to include me. Still, if the entire family doesn’t try, it’s not worth it for me.

If that doesn’t sound caustic enough to you, when Dad found the missing box of personal Christmas ornaments that I had spent a few years searching for, I told him I didn’t want them anymore.

A wooden elf ornament with a hole for its mouth. It hangs from a branch by its neck.
This was my favourite ornament. Its tongue sticks out when you push the top of its hat. I thought the noose was a nice touch.

I acknowledged that I had more negative memories of Christmastime with the family than not. It sounds cold, but it was the first time I’d ever admitted this to a family member. For years, I faked delight and marveled at the fact that mincemeat tarts didn’t contain meat. I’m so good at pretending I’m enjoying myself that these gatherings have ended with someone saying something along the lines of, “Aren’t you glad you didn’t stay home?”

No!

I prefer to voluntarily alienate myself, so this post is proof that I had a fun Christmas solo!

I wanted to walk up to Gonzales Hill park, so I did.

View of Gonzales Bay from Gonzales Hill Regional Park. It's an overcast day and houses line the shore.

It was windy, so I didn’t stay for long.

Next, I visited the cemetery. The last time I went, I found an epitaph that lauded the buried gentleman that ended with, “And also his wife…” Yeah, this lady got to become an afterthought in her afterlife. I was inappropriately amused by this fact.

I liked that this one was a literal headstone, and had been spruced up for the holidays.

Side profile of a long-necked headstone wearing a crown made of spruce boughs.

Nothing could ever top the one I stumbled upon in Paris’ Pére Lachaise cemetery:

A patina-coated statue rises out of a granite block. Engraved on the headstone is: Georges Rodenbach 1855-1898.

Zoée and Gator (both deaf and veterans of faking Christmas cheer) were keeping me company via WhatsApp while I wandered around Ross Bay in search of “…and also his wife.” Zoée, a former Victorian, started schooling me on the cemetery’s reputation for hosting satanic rituals.

At that moment, I found myself before a horned beast.

A buck buckles its hind legs in preparation of taking a shit. A tall headstone is in the foreground.

It was pooping.

I shared the above photo and asked, “Does this count as a Satanic ritual?”

Gator said it was nature’s way of respecting the dead.

I gave up looking for “…And also his wife,” and left the cemetery only to find the most appropriately designed house across the street.

A three-storey wood panelled L-shaped building with wooden stairs curving from the main entrance to the dirt driveway. A blue tarp is visible in the lower left corner.

If ghosts were real, there’s no way this house isn’t haunted.

Not much further down the street was a new house whose owner was trying to make a statement about Canada Post’s struggles to deliver parcels on time this year.

A skeleton sits on a wooden chair inside a house. Outside the door, a stack of parcels sit to the right of the door.

I saw a trio of peacocks aka holiday chickens. This one did not like me:

A menacing-looking peacock approaches the camera.

I still can’t get over how James Bay and Fairfield have free-roaming peacocks strutting around. It hasn’t really snowed here (the snow from three days ago doesn’t count because it didn’t stick) but it was cold enough for me to wear my mitts.

10kms later, even though I’d popped air-activated heat packs in my mitts, this still happened:

My left hand showing pallor in the pinky, ring, and middle fingers.

I did say I was cold-hearted. The reason I survived winters in Calgary and Montréal is that I limited my time outdoors. I moved back to Victoria because I couldn’t tolerate another winter of being stuck indoors.

Curious to see how bad my feet can get? Probably not, but here it is, with bonus cat tail:

My left foot, showing blanching of the toes, heel, and ball of foot. The tail of a grey cat is visible in the upper right corner.

When you google your condition and find that the images match your symptoms, you know your case is severe.

For this reason, Tammy gifted me a heated climbing chalk bag (Black Diamond Hot Forge) last Christmas. This year, she blew me away again with her thoughtfulness.

I mean…

A calendar showing a plushie with the face of a piranha, body of a teddy bear, and legs of a pink frog lying on the couch with a sketchbook in front. The calendar is turned to the month of February. Behind the calendar is a curious grey cat.

This character became the mascot of our friendship when Tammy claimed ownership when I moved away from Victoria in 2008. Since then, he’s been made into a fridge magnet, a polymer clay figurine, a painting, and several drawings. Now he’s a 12-month calendar.

AND A COOKIE.

A cookie decorated to resemble the aforementioned character. A grey cat with its head turned is out-of-focus in the background.

This cookie is inedible: I need to encase it in resin and mount it on the wall. Tammy warms my chilly heart like no other.

So, don’t feel sorry about me disassociating Christmas with the family: I have friends who make me feel loved.

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