After the rest of us had logged off on the day, exhausted from too much food, drink, and sporadically witty conversation, the twins headed out to party with friends.
I checked my messages. We'd sent forth several AI-generated Yuletide images with our digital season's greetings. One older person on our list responded by email, thanked us for the wonderful traditional card.
So, about the twins. One avoids alcohol. The other does not. Boxing Day saw us driving our mildly hungover niece to her student apartment in Brantford, Ontario. Since she had never heard the Dropkick Murphys' "The Season's Upon Us" before, we played that, amidst some less subversive seasonal fare. The song, if you don't know it, describes a crazily unpleasant family that has the singer thanking God Christmas only comes once a year.
Christmas for us consisted mainly of family, but also some friends of the hostesses, and a boyfriend recently acquired by one of my nieces. Raise a toast! Play a dumb party game! Have more turkey!
People died in frozen cars and bombed-out factories.
It's that time of year.
The weather creates snowglobe towns. It also takes hostages and, in some cases, lives.
En route to Toronto we spotted a car, snow-covered, still unrecovered from the previous days' storms. It had come to rest a considerable distance off the highway. We could only imagine how it might have made it so far into the field.
A short time later the traffic slowed to a crawl and then sped up. A recent accident caused the change in pace. Emergency vehicles gathered around, lights flashing. A few klicks later I checked my rear view and was certain I saw an SUV go off into a ditch. I could hardly turn around on the eastbound highway, but my wife called 911. We used the first accident as a landmark. It is possible the driver just made a really rough pullover to the shoulder, but the dispatcher said they would send someone to check it out.
But that was Christmas day; by then, things had settled. The two days before, the entire highway had been shut down following accidents involving roughly 100 vehicles. Much of our region stayed home. Further east, the storm robbed people of electrical power.
At Pearson Airport, stranded travellers celebrated Christmas. Vending machine treats had to pass for sugarplums.
In Buffalo, New York and across the United States, people died.
Someone we know was picked up on the street. She had no shoes. She arrived at a medical facility just before the blizzard. Had no one found her when they did, we suppose she might be dead now.
I tried searching today for any report on the accident I possibly witnessed. Nothing. Neither could we find anything on the one that had slowed traffic. The previous two days buried any notice of such minor incidents.
The high-rise condo building has a party room, which my sister and her wife have rented out for the occasion. People catch up on the year that was.
My sister-in-law, raised Muslim but no longer believing, said a traditional Islamic prayer over a Menorah being lit by a guest, raised Jewish but no longer devout, on Christmas Day, but also, in 2022, the final Hanukkah night. They do so solemnly.
In some parts of the world, missiles fall instead of snow. Nine million Ukrainians remain without power. The Russians, says NATO's secretary general, have "weaponized winter."
We rail against Vladimir Putin and donate to charitable causes. But we're okay, aren't we?
The war in eastern Europe brings to mind Singularity Girl. Woman. When I met her, she was thirteen, a survivor of the Siege of Sarajevo. Her childhood memories include her best friend being carried out onto the street, dead. I worked with a lot of young people, but she and I stayed in touch, continuously. I dubbed her my youthful sidekick. We actively hung out once she became an adult. Nearly a decade after our first meeting, she attended my fortieth birthday. A decade after that, my wife and I attended her wedding. Today, my "youthful sidekick" turned forty.
She had as quiet a Christmas as their two kids would permit.
Ours was traditional dinner and drinks and sugar cookies, a little ways above Yonge Street. My wife and I were asked to contribute, in my sister's words, "snooty beer." We managed everything from Trappist Ale to cranberry lager to a beer brewed by women.
The party was not without incident.
The niece with the new boyfriend had borrowed a car from the hosting sister so they could transport some things across Toronto. Engine trouble lit up along the way, but they made it safely to the parking spot. They had to take an Uber to the boyfriend's parents' place, their second Christmas dinner of the day.
This left stranded one of the twins, who had to return to her rented student apartment in Brantford on Boxing Day in order to make her work-shift on the 27. So we got to spend a little more time with her. Her place is on our way home, if we adjust the route a little.
Everything worked out fine, just like a Christmas movie.
Sleep in heavenly peace.