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.
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?”
I prefer to voluntarily alienate myself, so this post is proof that I had a fun Christmas solo!
On Wednesday, Yann reached another milestone: the anniversary of his conception. He celebrated the usual way, turning it into a destination Birthday. Last year, we were at the base of Mt. Albert Edward. The year before, we were in France. Before that? New Hampshire.
Anyway, you get the idea: August is a good month to have been birthed.
In the time of Coronavirus, we had to be low-key with this year’s destination and tote a pump dispenser of hand sanitizer. I also brought a chair, binoculars, and at least twelve articles of clothing even though we were gone for just a night.
Last night, Yann and I laced up our Nike Decades and headed up to Gonzales Hill Observatory with a flask of phenobarbital to catch a glimpse of NEOWISE before it disappears for the next 6000 years.
The observatory itself is an old weather station and is off-limits to the public; however, the Capital Regional District was kind enough to provide a park bench 20 metres away from the building.
Yann and I settled down on this bench as the sun sunk below the horizon. As usual, Sirius was the first to seep through the evening twilight, followed by the Grande Ourse, which is French for Big Bear, which how they refer to The Big Dipper. Or you’re in the UK, The Plough. Whatever it’s called, it’s the one constellation most Northern Hemispherians can identify. The Big Dipper was to direct us to NEOWISE’s position in the sky.
We sat in the darkness, shivering among the wind-warped Garry oak trees for an hour before scoping the dim smudge that is NEOWISE in the sky. It was expectedly anti-climactic, as we had long missed the window when it was the most brilliant.
Also, there was no flask of phenobarbital, and I wear Adidas kicks.