next to a circus there is nothing that leaves town faster than the christma

Dear Uma: Christmas holidays are too long when one stays home for the duration.

Dear Uma:

Christmas holidays are too long when one stays home for the duration.

We agreed we would not take a winter vacation this year; Pete has been busy at work and said he was too worn out to go anywhere and I was happy to stay here, having claimed to love Yukon winter ever since we arrived and proclaiming my gladness at being able to enjoy more of it.

It seemed like a good decision; we attended local holiday events, we went to some good private parties, we took walks in the snow, we ate wonderful meals and drank friendly wines. We decorated our trailer for the first time, inside and out. Christmas Eve and Day went by in a warm golden glow of fellowship and joy.

We made a traditional turkey dinner and had another couple over to share it. There ought to have been more guests; ‘traditional’ recipes result in lots and lots of food. Pete and I have been eating turkey till neither one of us can bear to even look at the enormous ravaged carcass still occupying most of the refrigerator space and looking like the remains of some unspeakable disaster.

Unwilling to open the fridge, we are reduced to eating chocolates, cookies and candied fruit.

I have changed my mind and I don’t love winter, and I am also not too sure about my feelings for Pete these long dark post-Christmas days.

It’s been too cold to go out for very long and besides, I am so swollen with food and drink that my parka won’t zip up around me, and bending to pull on boots is out of the question.

I put on an exercise tape yesterday and watched it while eating a candy cane; the mild sweat I developed, most likely from chewing, made me feel a little better, but not for long. I should have watched it twice.

Housebound, I troll the internet, finding far too many things to sadden and anger me. If it weren’t for winter, I would laugh at the sight of tourists in Jerusalem renting crosses to carry on their shoulders as they follow what is supposed to be the route Jesus walked when he carried his cross. They get their photos taken as they solemnly stagger down the narrow street with their leased crosses. In the background, the man who owns the crosses can be seen counting his money and probably planning how next year he may offer crucifixions as well.

Then there is the store that sells nothing but Christmas stuff and stays open year round. The ornaments on offer go far beyond the traditional glittery balls, manifesting every possible interest into something that can be hung on a tree. All the sports are there, the hockey emblems in particular look stunning, shining on puck-shaped ornaments. There are exotic cars, cute animals, and popular cartoon figures from TV shows. Movie stars’ faces, Obama’s face, the face of Jesus – all on Christmas decorations side by side with characters from South Park and Disneyland. A huge assortment of ornaments emblazoned with the Coca Cola logo is available for those who feel a need to advertise a soft drink on their Christmas tree.

I don’t know why I was surprised to see war machine ornaments; by now there ought to be nothing too crazy for the Christmas merchants. There they were, stealth bombers, tanks, missiles, armed jeeps, battleships, helicopters – all manner of instruments of death and destruction painted in that lovely army green that looks as though it were meant to blend into the foliage of a Christmas tree. Why not design a bomb-burst to finish off the whole thing at the end of the holidays? Reduce the Christmas tree to dust and rubble, thereby eliminating the nuisance of disposal, while at the same time providing a brilliant and exciting finish to the season.

One night on the CBC news the story of the hour was a Washington policeman, off duty at the time, who broke up a snowball fight – with his gun. A large group of people had organized the game online and were playfully tossing snow at one another when one snowball hit an SUV. The driver, a policeman, jumped out of his vehicle and accosted the crowd, waving his pistol and shouting threats. Abashed, the players drew back, some bravely beginning to chant, “You don’t bring a gun to a snowball fight.” The incident is ‘under investigation’ and the result of that will likely be to outlaw snowball fights involving more than two people.

Don’t stop reading, Uma; I am a long, long way from finished with sharing my winter woes.

Pete has decided to start snoring. I thought this was something husbands didn’t do until the marriage had ‘set,’ like in 10 years or so when tolerance has broadened and deepened, where all the aggravations and annoyances each partner brings to the arrangement are able to be overlooked, indeed even referred to with affection.

Mongolian throat singing was the weirdest sound I’d ever heard coming from a human throat until Pete began his nightly cacophony. There is nothing predictable about his snoring; it can go from a gentle “puff, puff” to something that sounds like faraway small dogs barking. Then there is the one that is a sort of wet, smacking sound: I wet my hands in the sink and clapped, demonstrating to Pete what the noise is like. His response was one of interest and a willingness to participate: “I think that sounds like a big fish landing in the boat.” Why such a sound would be disturbing was beyond his understanding.

We bed down in a companionable mood each night; the snoring gets underway when I am asleep, waking me instantly. It was frightening when it began. The first time I thought a truck had hit the trailer and was grinding its way to our bedroom. Admittedly, the manner in which I woke Pete was less than kind, but I was genuinely scared.

Now when the racket begins, I get out of bed and pace around the living room, longing for a cigarette, eating chocolates instead, and cursing the institute of marriage in our culture which expects a shared bed. There is nothing on TV so I carefully and thoroughly read Pete’s life insurance policy.

Naturally, I have begun a web search for a cure and the most interesting possibility is, of course, a surgical procedure.

It is called uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, and would be performed, I imagine, by an uvulopalatopharyngoplastist who would tighten the tissues of the soft palate and the throat.

Possible side effects include changes in voice frequency. Now, that could be amusing and would be acceptable if it meant the snoring did indeed stop. It is only a “possible” side effect, insinuating the chances are remote of giving up nighttime noises in exchange for the ability to sound like Donald Duck on helium one minute and James Earl Jones the next.

There is a little nagging concern about the word “include”- what other side effects? I busy myself envisioning what would go with a change in voice frequency – hair growth that came and went? An attendant swelling of the throat, like a frog’s when it croaks? Could I live with that? At three in the morning, sleepless, I believe I could.

In an attempt at a gentler response to my sweetheart’s snoring, I remind myself of the story of the American tourist in Mexico complaining to the resort manager about the sound of the village dogs barking. The manager responded with, “Senor, if you do not like the sound of the dogs barking, do not listen.”

Bah! Humbug!



Heather Bennett is a freelance

writer based in Watson Lake.