Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Holiday Parties and Tickets Bought
It seems the holiday socializing season has started, kicking off with Alicia's birthday party ( lots of kids,dogs,relatives, and a lavish homemade Thai food feast partially pictured here) and continuing through this week and the next with staff parties, potlucks, preschool festivities, and a trek to Parksville this weekend to see a live-animal Nativity scene with our ten-year-old nephew.
Alas I will most likely miss this year's pagan Solstice celebration out Merville way (for the first time in years!), but I'm sure I won't let the season pass by without a bonfire at some point, or at least lighting a lot of candles to celebrate the returning of the light at the darkest part of the winter.
(And it's REALLY dark around these parts lately! In some neighbourhoods the power has been off for three days now after two wind-storms *bang* one right after the other took trees and power wires down together. And ANOTHER storm with gusts of one hundred kilometres predicted for tomorrow afternoon!)
Anyway, the Merville Solstice event planners usually schedule it right on the Solstice, but for some reason they planned it early this year and I'm plum out of town that night!
I console myself that one can't do everything after all.
And on that note, due to a very purposefully small Christmas shopping list, I've so far managed to have very little stress about the season. It's the only way it should be.
I've also decided to skip sending out Christmas cards to obscure relatives who I'm sure have forgotten who I am---aunties and cousins, prove me wrong!
In lieu of the Christmas-card formalities, I've been going through my address book and reconnecting by telephone with all those people I really want to keep in touch with. I've had some great conversations. How do I lose track of these fantastic people?
Aside from party planning and having long phone calls, my mind has been taken up with a different sort of holiday planning.
Jeff and Tai and I have been spending a lot of time emailing Italy lately, hammering out hotel reservations at frustrating lengths and searching for an apartment in Rome for the last week we will have there in May.
The nine hour time difference makes the emailing process a long drawn-out one and, word to the wise, if you're ever planning a holiday in places like Rome and Venice it's never too early to start booking accomodation. Time and time again, we've thought we'd found a likely place in our price range only to be told, mi dispiace, that they are are already booked full already.
However, I think we may actually have gotten a few things confirmed. I'll post pics of our apartment if it's a definite thing.
(Note: My brother Adam left for Nicaragua yesterday. He is the champion of budget travel and doesn't mind a dirt floor or sleeping in a hammock. He once rented an apartment in the Honduras for something like thirty dollars a month and that rent was split between three people. He figured his sister was just not looking in the right places for a cheap sleep in Rome and did some research on my behalf. His conclusion: Damn, it's expensive in Italy!)
We DO have our air tickets booked. There was a last minute scramble to change some flight itineraries when our travelling partner Pol decided that three weeks was just too long to be away from her home and family (both financially and emotionally). I'm glad she's coming for the first two weeks anyway, and she will fly home from Firenze while the rest of us stay on for a few more limoncellos.
I'm really looking forward to staying in Rome for a whole week. The first time I visited Rome I stayed a gut-wrenchingly short two nights and I didn't see half of what I wanted to see! (Well, actually I saw some of those other things but I was travelling at the speed of light at the time, hanging out a tour bus window. That's the trade-off of a tour: you lose some personal freedom in exchange for all the annoying trivia of where to sleep and how to get places taken care of. At least once this week, I quietly wished all we had to do was show up for a pre-packaged holiday. But then the moment passed.)
Hmmm...upon reflection, I actually stayed three nights in Rome, but I'd arrived at nine o'clock at night at the airport and spent most of that first evening alternately stumbling around my hotel's neighbourhood in the throes of jet-lag looking for a telephone that would accept my calling card and trying to get the key to work in my hotel door. Ah, memories!
But I knew that one day I'd return to Rome (having thrown a coin in the Trevi fountain it was practically guaranteed according to tradition) and get a chance to see more of it.
And some of the favourite things again! How could I not have a second visit to the Cappucin monks' crypt on the Via Veneto to see the chandeliers made from humanbones again? Skull-bones are stacked in mandalas, and the old monks themselves, centuries old and resembling dried shoe-leather, are propped up around the place. You have to see it to believe it.