Tuesday, December 6, 2011
My parents always said "we love your presence more than we love your presents." Over 30 years ago I finished High School and took a year off to travel across Canada with a program called Katimavik. I was paid $1 per day, and given $1000 when I completed the program. I was living in Smithers, British Columbia (just south of Prince George) when I, and my fellow Katimavikers, made the decision to the take the Grey Hound bus from Smithers to Toronto so that I/ we could be home with our families for Christmas. It was a 4 day trip and we were so pumped. We each packed a lunch, a few snacks and a good book to read and got on the bus to start our journey. We left on December 20 and the bus was filled with people who were travelling to be home, just like us. Everyone was excited and happy to be heading home. In those days people had wine skins and flasks full of liquid spirit to celebrate the Christmas season and people were generous. We were like a party bus going across the country with a designated driver. It was really fun travelling through the interior of BC to Vancouver and the party increased as we wound our way through the mountains into Alberta.
Most people were on the bus for the short term. A big group of us were there for the long term. We had almost no money, and of course ate our lunch and snacks within the first 4 hours of the trip. We then scrambled at every bus stop to find change to buy chips or chocolate bars or peanuts. We were travelling in a time when there were no Tim Hortons, Starbucks, Ipods, Iphones or healthy snacks to be found in any terminal. Every washroom required a dime to open the door! We had to sit up for 4 days, had no showers and I, in my wisdom, had purchased a funky pair of cowboy boots and was wearing them. By the time we were in Saskatchewan my feet were swelling and I couldn't get my boots on - so I then had to hobble around the bus stations. By the time we got to Ontario we were hungry and tired and not looking very pretty. I'll never forget arriving at the bus station in Toronto and seeing my parents standing there with big smiles waiting to greet me. They made no comments about my hair that hadn't been washed in days, or my rumpled clothes or the big bags under my eyes. They grabbed my luggage, we got in the car and they took home to a cozy bed, the most amazing food that I could imagine and they happily listened to me debrief my bus adventure. I was so glad to be home and so grateful for the simple things in life: family, friends, food, a hot shower and some sparkling lights on our Christmas tree. The simple things are always the best at Christmas, if we just take the time to notice them.