A Green Christmas in Toronto

….no White Christmas this year and no snow in site

For some the prospect of no snow this winter would be heavenly but for others like me it would be disappointing. Others just want snow for Christmas and then it can be snowless for the rest of the winter but for many, winter in Canada wouldn’t be winter without a good snowfall or two or three. Those people include skiers, snow boarders, chalet owners and of course children who dream of a snow day when the schools are closed (a rare occurrence in this neck of the woods).

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were both clear and cold with no snow in site. On the upside there was no wind and it was very comfortable for walking. I convinced my father to dress warmly and get outside for a walk through the neighbourhood  on Christmas morning. We donned our Santa hats until my Dad decided his wasn’t warm enough and we took a leisurely walk along Lakeshore Drive and up Ninth Street, which my father fondly calls Santa Alley.

It was fun greeting other walkers with a Merry Christmas and stopping here and there to take a few shots of peoples’ decorations. Here are some of the sites we shared together that morning.P1070324
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Right now it’s 4 degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit) and the high on Saturday is going up to 9 degrees Celsius (48 degrees Fahrenheit). As for snow there’s none in sight until January 6 and then it is only snow showers.

My Personal Christmas Challenge

….every year for as long as I can remember I’ve struggled to get ready for Christmas

I used to blame being a full-time teacher as the problem. December is always a busy month with interviews, concerts, parties, more assemblies and when there’s time shopping for Christmas presents.

Now that I’m retired things haven’t gotten much better but for very different reasons, especially this year. One thing that has helped somewhat is being able to do 80% of my shopping on-line. The one thing, however, that I didn’t count on was illness.

Twelve days ago my sister from Calgary came for a three day visit. Our first day started off nicely with a lunch with both sisters and my Dad that I wrote about in my last post. Dad had been under the weather with a cold and cough but he felt he was up to a short visit to our local ‘seniors’ mall where he wanted to use up his credit at one of the retail outlets. It’s not really a senior’s mall but there is a high high proportion of white haired people that sit around the mall drinking their Tim Horton’s coffee. So Cathy, Dad and I drove to the mall and tried to find Dad something from the store that would fit him. He had a credit in the first place because this particular store doesn’t give refunds, only exchanges or credit towards other merchandise. Unfortunately, Dad is a large man and the merchandise fits on the small side. I think between the two of us we exhausted our Dad by making him try on at least a half dozen sweaters or more.

In the end we weren’t able to use up his credit in this particular store but the manager assured us that in another mall there were three different stores that would honour his credit voucher. Before we left the mall we went to the drug store and bought Dad some cough syrup to tame the rattle that came from his chest. When we got home he excused himself and went down to his apartment in the house and sat in his special chair to rest.

Later that night while while watching TV we heard my father call us from his basement apartment. When we went downstair we saw he was in distress so we called 911 after consulting with TeleHealth. Very quickly a firetruck and two ambulances arrived at our door. I couldn’t believe all the people who were trying to fit into my small house with all their special equipment. To make a long story shorter it was decided that Dad should go to the hospital due to his age and low oxygen levels. The fire department left first when they were sure that Dad could walk out of the house on his own and the one paramedic team handed over the reigns to the other team at shift change.

In the end Dad stayed in Emergency in an isolated room for fours days until they were sure that he wasn’t contagious. We waited for a single room in the hospital but all the beds upstairs were full. On the fifth day a room opened up but the attending doctor felt that Dad was well enough to go home and rest there. Turns out he has RSV, a respiratory viral infection. It is very common amongst children but can be quite dangerous for people in their 90s.

So with going to the hospital every day and having my sister here, nothing much got done. Cathy did volunteer to help me put up the Christmas tree but when she left on the fourth day the tree was still outside. I didn’t even have my door wreath up.IMG-9880
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Once Dad got home I had a new set of responsibilities. Ironically while my Dad was in the hospital my neighbour next door was also admitted and she has a new cat. Now I had to feed the cat and take in her mail and go shopping for my father. A few days after he got home I took him to the bank and while he was there I treated myself to a Christmas planter to put in front of the house. Things were starting to look up.IMG-9882

I was on a roll. My husband helped me bring in the Christmas tree and we got it set up in the living room.IMG-9886

The next day I pulled the old door wreath out from under the stairs and decided it needed a bit of cheering up. I put a new ribbon on it and added some white flowers to freshen it up. Then I added some battery powered LED lights for fun.IMG-9888
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This whole time I could feel that I had a cold coming on. Not surprising with all the illness that had surrounded me in the last week but I felt well enough to go to a party Monday night and to make bread dough at the Inn the next day. I knew I would only be there for a few hours. That evening I even attempted to bake some cookies and I packaged up a small gift for the bakers that I work with.

From here things went downhill very quickly. That night I woke up with a very sore throat; something I don’t experience very often and in fact the last time I felt that bad was when I was in high school and I ended up with Strep throat. The next morning I texted my baking friends and told them I wasn’t coming in. My husband drove me to the doctor and sure enough the tests came back positive for Strep throat and a sinsus infection. I left the office with  a few prescriptions and headed straight for the pharmacy and then to bed.

Since Wednesday I’ve been taking it easy and doing things in small spurts but I was surprised how much could be accomplished with taking baby steps. I managed take all my decorations out and over the next three days I slowly started to place my treasures around the house and put lights and ornaments on the tree. Late Friday afternoon my oldest daughter arrived and helped me finish the tree and together we strung the outside lights on the Yew in front of the house.IMG-9925
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It truly feels like Christmas now. Only the stockings need to be filled and a couple of last minute gifts need to be purchased.

Three Sisters and Dad

….an unexpected visit from my sister in Calgary brought us all together

Ten days ago my sister flew in from Calgary to spend three days with me in Toronto. When my sister in Chatham heard that Cathy was staying over she made the four drive to have lunch with us. My Dad, who lives with me, joined us for a simple lunch at home and retired to his apartment after the meal to rest (he’s been suffering with a cold). We had a nice gab for a few hours and then Chris (the sister from Chatham) left to visit her daughter, son-in-law and grandson in Burlington.

Before my sister left to visit her family we all posed with our Dad for a nice group shot.IMG-1793