I considered writing about the “year in review” as columnists often do at this time of year, when there is generally little in the papers that invites impassioned comment. I remain relatively neutral on the subject of “low-fat holiday desserts you can whip up in no time,” and can’t pretend otherwise.
Writers, like everyone else, are very busy this time of year which is why, excellent readers, you see lots of lists that include very little that happened past late fall, when most of these columns were filed.
Writers like to bank a “best of” or “year in review” or “predictions for” column. (The economy being what it is for writers, that’s pretty much all we can bank.) I should have but didn’t. I also toyed with writing about “my top 10 five best lists” or reviewing others’ year-in-review columns, but ran out of time even for that.
Here instead is my “to do” list – which I began Dec. 1 and have been revising ever since.
1. Buy wall-mounted soap dish for new bathroom being installed beneath the stairs on the ground floor before workmen complete the job on Dec. 17.
2. Put up Christmas lights.
3. Gifts for family.
4. Invent a groundbreaking trifle. A show-stopping trifle the likes of which has never been seen. Incorporate pineapple. Have learned the Georgians were very big on pineapple, which they used as ornamentation and considered a symbol of “propriety.”
5. Decorate the house magnificently for Christmas.
6. Invite sister-in-law’s cousin, a student just arrived in Toronto from China who would otherwise be alone, to Christmas dinner.
7. Return Ottolenghi cookbook purchased for mother. Explain at cook-book store that, as there has been a massive ice storm in Southern Ontario, there is no gift that mother needs. She’s so happy it’s as though God has given her the entire Portmeirion catalogue. It’s unwise to risk making her any happier and, besides, she’s glued to the Weather Channel for 24 hours a day and may never cook again. Mum has long argued that, to hell with the CRTC, the senior citizens of Canada don’t care what news channels they’re offered. A shrewd government would pump millions into the Weather Channel and thus secure her demographic for eternity.
8. Buy tree.
9. Clear ice.
10. Email family and sanctimoniously inform them that Christmas has become far too commercialized and, in protest of that fact and (pick one, depending on recipient) the U.S. government’s treatment of Edward Snowden, Mr. Snowden’s irresponsible actions, chronic over-fishing, the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline or the cancellation of Bunheads, I will not be giving gifts this year.
11. Do recount of guests as 10 of the original 15 were flying in and flights are being cancelled, two were driving in and mum says “Not on those roads we’re not!” and two have left Toronto as they are without heat and light, and fail to see the charm of A Very Road Warrior Christmas.
12. Accept that, on Christmas, I’ll be serving a 22-pound turkey to one complete stranger from China.
13. Alert Wes Anderson as he will certainly want to film that little quirk-Fest.
14. Clear ice.
15. Put Christmas lights on toilet that is still in the middle of the living room.
16. Note that Martha Stewart has done nothing as creative as I have with the sprinkling of drywall dust that coats the entire house (take pictures).
17. Clear ice.
18. Acknowledge that everything that can be trifled with has been trifled with.
19. Buy ornamental Christmas pineapple.
20. Pin Christmas angel atop Christmas pineapple.
21. Clear ice.
22. Put sign on Christmas pineapple suggesting it not be eaten as it’s full of pins.
23. Clear ice.
24. Worry that word that Canadians celebrate yule by lighting toilets, cooking too much food, and pointing defensively at a pineapple on the mantel while talking loudly about “propriety” will strain on Canadian-Chinese relations.
25. Make enough turkey soup to heal strained relations by feeding one bowl to every person in China.
Happy New Year.