Preparations for Christmas Eve in our home have typically included a trip to the Cheese Boutique to pick up Stolle, Domino Steine and, well, cheese! This year the boys and I biked, and thank goodness we did so! The car traffic was horrific, requiring two shop employees to direct it. We, however, were able to quite easily snake through the gridlock with our bikes.
A Visit to the Airport
Having recently made the online acquaintance of a student from Singapore who was coming to Toronto to study for four months, the boys and I set out to the airport to meet and greet said acquaintance and get her oriented to the city's public transit system. (She also joined us the next day for Christmas Dinner.)
It's always fun to hang out at the airport, I find, and especially on Christmas eve, there is a buzz in the air as people arrive from all over the world to meet family or seek adventure in Toronto over the holiday season.
After the airport, the boys and I met Vinx at a subway station, and headed back to the apartment, where Tats and Rick were waiting for us to eat the Wursten with Kartoffelsalat and the fruit salad with walnuts I had prepared earlier in the day.
Then it was time to open presents.
The boys were equally pleased with their new library of books as they were with Rick's generous gift card to Mastermind. And everyone else seemed to enjoy the assortment of bike gear and various silly little things I had found for them. Vinx's treasures were the usual unusual conglomeration of yard sale curios; Rick got an 80s electronic chess game from Radio Shack, Tats got a funny t-shirt among other things, and my own box included a Jeannette Winterson novel, which I've already begun reading!
Alex, Rick and I had signed up to volunteer at MCCT's Christmas Eve service at Roy Thompson Hall, and so the three of us set out by bus/subway to make it downtown in time for our training session.
In addition to ushering and handing out programs, I had also agreed to serve communion. It was my first time doing so, and I felt a little nervous at the beginning. But it turned out to be a great blessing for me, and -- I hope -- to those I served.
Alex in his Santa hat was a big hit with patrons of all ages as he handed out programs and directed people to their seats, collected the offering with me and ushered rows up towards communion later in the service. He seemed to enjoy his duties, and relish the opportunity to stay up late in a useful capacity! Rick, too, seemed to enjoy the evening, despite (or perhaps because of?) its religious nature.
There is something quite marvelous about being surrounded by so many of "our people" and allies worshiping one's maker on Christmas Eve. The hall was nearly full; not many of the 2000 programs that had been stuffed the day before were left over at the end of the night. After too many years and countless examples of not fitting in, it felt nice to belong somewhere, even just for an hour and a half.
Rick splurged for a taxi home, and we soon joined the still sniffling Tatsy and sleeping Simon (insisting he did not believe in church, he had stayed home with Tats, who was sick, and had gone to bed at a somewhat reasonable hour) and fell into bed before 1 a.m.