About two weeks ago, I had just finished my work day and was driving home. It was just your typical shift of selling Christmas trees, making seasonal planters and such, nothing too profound.
Suddenly, an oncoming vehicle pointed itself at me and seconds later crashed into my car, which was later written-off by the insurance company.
Had I not been able to swerve slightly to the right, I am sure that the impact would have been centered on my driver’s door and I would not be around today.
If there is one gift that a sudden reminder of one’s mortality provides, it is an acute sense of regret in regards to those things left undone – be they thank-yous, apologies, places you wanted to visit, people you wanted to reconnect with, or just personal accomplishments.
Of course, it is only a gift if one survives and is able to do something about those regrets, and I am going to put one of those behind me right now by telling you why I love this season and the town I celebrate it in.
Just consider it an open Christmas card to all of you:
I like those red plastic bells that hang from the lamp posts on Lougheed Highway and 224th Street because they remind me of that scene of George Bailey joyfully running down main street of Bedford Falls in It’s a Wonderful Life;
I enjoy cutting my own Christmas holly at the Timberosa Tree Farm (thanks Tim and Kathy), especially when accompanied by the screeching of Steller’s Jays;
I love to look out at the snow-covered Golden Ears mountains as I walk out my front door each day;
I look forward to opening the perennial house doors each morning and watching as the Juncos fly away from the suspended Christmas trees that they have slept in through the night;
I like the old-fashioned wooden bowl that sits on my coffee table, filled with nuts in a shell that no one eats anymore but myself, because it reminds me of my childhood and my dad’s stupid grin as he pulverized pecans and walnuts;
I enjoy getting a coffee at Valley Fair Mall and just watching the Santa photographer go into animated contortions (using the words wieners and cheese repeatedly) just to get that perfect shot;
I savour the first Mandarin orange of the year and I probably spend more time smelling the aromatic skin than I do eating the orange;
I look forward to those seasonal visits from friends like Jack and Astrid because it reminds me that life is about the living and not the things we accumulate and clutter with;
I like to see my girls make their own Christmas traditions, be it creating a miniature ‘Who-ville’ or giving their baking away to charity;
I love the piney smell that comes with a fresh cut tree and my cunning cat ‘Gus’, who always waits until three in the morning to terrorize the ornaments that inhabit the lower branches;
I like living in a town where I know most of the clerks I deal with and being asked which daughter is receiving the gift purchase;
I enjoy meeting friends and acquaintances on the street, shaking hands and wishing each other a Merry Christmas – and more importantly, knowing that we both really mean it.
There is no other place in this world where I can find these small intangible things – the incidents, people and places that makes Christmas in Maple Ridge feel like home – so, Merry Christmas, Maple Ridge (and Pitt Meadows, too).
Mike Lascelle is a local nursery manager and gardening author (firstname.lastname@example.org).