Colleen Meade
1994 Christmas Letter

December 19th, 1994       
Well, as you can see by the date, and by the lateness of this card's arrival, I decided to take a different approach this year. Instead of doing my cards first, which generally uses up all my Christmas spirit (to say nothing of my time and energy) and leaving me in a rush to do the present wrapping, tree decorating, etc., I decided to do a lot of the other stuff first and then do the cards last. So far, this has been great - we've got up all our (three) trees, most of the indoor decorations (garlands on mantel, stair and balcony railings and bed headboards) and all the outdoor lights (front and back), as well as having time to do Christmas cookies and "snow" stencils on the windows, finish my shopping and do most of my wrapping, and I feel more Christmas-y than ever. However, ask me again in a few days when I finish the blitz on the cards - I may be back to the old routine again next year.

Anyway, this last year has been pretty good. We did make it to Mexico last winter. I wasn't really sure whether I wanted to go or not, so I put off making a decision until the very last minute (the final week before the rates at Club Med take a big hike, due to some holiday in the States, I gather). On the Monday afternoon, I decided to call, and the only charter (that I knew about, anyway) left on the Thursday morning. I was using a new travel agent (my old one had left and her replacement was just not of the same calibre) - she was the mom of one of the kids that Kathleen went to school with back at Maple Grove - Laurie Triggs at Coastal Travel, down on 4th. She was really good - I'd highly recommend her. Still, getting everything ready in two and a half days was a real challenge - including getting my hair cut and permed, getting a housesitter (one of Kathleen's former babysitters was able to come), getting the notarized declaration from Kathleen's Dad so that I could legally take her out of the country, getting pesos downtown (I never quite trust the place at the airport to have as much as I like to take), buying a couple of new swimsuits, meeting with Kathleen's teacher to get work to take with us so she wouldn't get totally behind and/or out of practice (some hope), shopping for things like film and sunscreen and finally packing all our bags (I take everything but the kitchen sink - I just don't want to spend any time down there running around trying to find things which may not even be available, or, if they are, cost a fortune). We made it, obviously, but I only got 28 minutes of sleep on the Wednesday night. That's cutting it a bit too close !

We did have a good time down there (we did our usual Zihuatanejo/Hotel Irma and Ixtapa/Club Med thing) - the weather was perfect, we didn't get sick (well, one half-day for me) and all the arrangements went smoothly - no sure thing in Mexico. Still, I doubt we'll go again. Kathleen didn't do nearly as good a job this time of doing her homework, plus it's getting to the point where I hate to have her miss a couple of weeks of school. I never did get my albums done after we got back. Maybe this year I'll do them in February and just relive last year's trip - it'd be a lot easier, and cheaper, too !

It was almost March by the time we got home - that was great. All the spring flowers were coming out (although we had a nice big snowfall the day after we got back - as we'd had two days before we left) and it was so warm on some days that I could sit in the sun in my sunroom with the patio doors open and keep my tan up. Enjoyed working in the garden during the day and working on the Aladdin room in the evenings. I finally finished it just last month - that's it in this year's Christmas card again (as it was in last year's, but a different corner), with Kathleen in the same Jasmine outfit (but with the shoes made as well this year - that was her outfit for Hallowe'en this time). I also finally finished the kitchen last month - it's only been two years !

Around the second week in July, Kathleen's dad took her up the Sunshine Coast for a week at a cottage with him and his girlfriend and her two kids - a girl, seven, and a boy, three, I believe. It was a good experience for Kathleen, though she doesn't bug me nearly as much for a little brother or sister as she used to ! It was also a great vacation for me - that's the first time we've been apart for more than a weekend since that trip I had to Taos seven years ago, just before Curt and I separated. I thoroughly enjoyed just lazing around the house, doing exactly as I pleased, with no one else's schedule or other demands to have to worry about - what a luxury !! Kathleen was at day camp for the rest of the summer, so I still had lots of time to myself, but it's just not quite the same thing.

I had another supper/sleepover/brunch for Kathleen's birthday this year, plus we all went over to Lord Byng pool for a swim as well. Never again ! I don't think ten-year-olds are nearly as tractable as nine-year-olds - I had such a migraine by the time I got them all to bed that I thought I was going to die. Kathleen was going to another friend's sleepover birthday party the next day (thank heavens !), then we went to Splashdown Park - lovely weather, luckily. It was also beautiful the day of the Point Grey Fiesta, back in June. That was fun - we decorated Kathleen's bike and she rode in the parade, then we spent the rest of the day at Trimble Park. Reminded me of Edson in some ways.

Sometime in late summer or early fall we acquired another family member - he's Sasha, the Russian dwarf hampster. Kathleen paid for him herself, including all his accessories. For a cage, we're just using the aquarium. We both got tired of finding dead fish in the tank, so we've given up on finny friends for the time being. So far, the cats haven't gotten hold of him - that would be a fast end to that - though they don't know what to make of his "liberty ball", which he can use to zoom all around the house in perfect safety. It's a riot to watch. He's actually much cuter and more fun than I thought he'd be, and Kathleen is the one who cleans out his cage and feeds and waters him (after a few reminders, anyway).

On the whole, I don't think the weather was quite as good this year as last, but we still spent a lot of evenings having picnics at the park or fish and chips at the beach. It was just so nice not to be feeling sick for six weeks like I did at that time last year that I have very fond memories of summer.

Besides, unless we move again - what a horrifying thought - this will be my last summer "off", since I am finally running out of money. I've managed to streeeeeetch it to make it through the holiday season, but I'm going to have to go back to work early in the new year - ugh ! If you know of anybody looking for someone, let me know. Too bad I didn't ever find anyone willing to pay me to do something I really like, such as painting murals or other decorating (I think my taste is a bit too "eclectic", to put it kindly), gardening, designing/constructing one-of-a-kind pieces of (wooden) furniture or taking photographs. I need an agent ! Still, I have to admit, I didn't ever pursue any of those avenues very seriously - like calling that woman who runs a mural-painting business. Don't know why, actually - maybe I've just absorbed Curt's "if you don't try, you can't fail" philosophy. Still, to be fair, at least he's started back to university part-time as of this fall, to get a degree in counselling, I think it is. He doesn't tell me much - he'll talk only on a"need-to-know" basis, and he doesn't think there's very much I absolutely need to know. I wish he weren't still so bitter and hostile.

Anyway, that's about it for us for this year - I'd better dash and get these off. Sorry that I don't have time to write much in the way of extra personal notes with each one, but if I do, you'll be lucky to get this by New Year's !

Hope all is well with you and yours ...

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