Archive for December, 2015


2016

Yeah I’m fudging the date on this one. I was planning on writing it on the 30th, but the lack of Internet access in the guest house I was staying in made that impossible.

2016 is going to be a big year. I’m finishing school in April. I’ve got the Bar exams in June. I’m planning on doing some travelling in July. I’m starting my career in August – assuming I can find a job between now and then. Throw in the possibility of living somewhere new and some big relationship decisions to be made, and you’ve got a hectic twelve months ahead.

In a lot of ways, this is the year that I’ve spent every year for the last decade trying to avoid. Pretty much every decision I’ve made since 2007 has been made in order to delay my inevitable entry into the real world, whatever that is. From switching out of sciences after grade 11 to pursuing an utterly useless history degree to entering law school – all of it has been to try and put off having to make these big decisions.

But now I’ve played all my cards, and it’s just about time to face the music.

There might not be any reason for me to be as apprehensive as I am. 2016 could be great. It could be better than great. It could even be the best year ever. But it could just as easily be an unmitigated disaster. Right now I just don’t know.

Hope for the best and expect the worst.

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Christmas In Wales

For the first time ever, I opted to spend Christmas away from my family this year. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but my exam schedule combined with my limited freedom next year and the scaled down Christmas Eve at home made this the best year to do it.

Owing to certain household tensions, I was prepared for a somewhat awkward affair, but it ended up being a very nice day. My hosts made an exceptional effort to include me in the day, and they did their best to make me feel right at home.

It sounds like a really minor point, but one thing I really liked was the sheer number of gifts they give one another. Since their Christmas gatherings are usually just three people, they all give one another about a dozen gifts. That segment of the day seemed to go on forever, and it seemed like a great way to handle gift-giving. When you give someone one  big gift, it’s hit-or-miss. They might like it, but they might not. You give someone ten smaller gifts and odds are they’ll like at least some of them.

I did still miss home. Although Christmas Eve at home was somewhat scaled down this year, its usual grandeur was still visible, even through Skype, and part of me wished I was there. With three aging grandparents, you never know which Christmas will be the last one with everyone present.

But ultimately, there’s no sense in comparing Christmas at home to Christmas here. It’s apples to oranges. I’m glad I was able to experience a different sort of Christmas this year, and I’m happy that I will be returning to the usual routine next year barring any unforeseen events.

Gratitude

Today I gave a homeless man $20.

I’ve seen this guy on the streets with some regularity since I’ve been living in Kingston. He’s easily recognizable for the red jacket he wears at all times. Whenever I see him I ask him how he’s doing. His response is always “Could be better, sir”, which makes me a little sad. I give him spare change on the occasions I have some.

What with it being the Christmas season, I was feeling somewhat generous. I saw him sitting around his usual spot, and I thought “you know what, I’m going to make this guy’s day.”

I walked up to him, gave him a $20 bill, and wished him a merry Christmas. He said “Thanks.”

I walked away from the encounter feeling somewhat empty. I’d expected a little more than just “thanks”. I can’t imagine that this man sees $5 or $10 bills very often, much less a $20. But from his reaction, you’d have thought I’d given him a loonie.

On one hand, I don’t want to criticize a homeless man for being ungrateful. On the other hand, I kind of want to criticize a homeless man for being ungrateful.

He did say “thanks”. But doesn’t gratitude scale with the value of the gift or service provided? I mean, if you buy me a new iPod, my reaction is going to be different than if you buy me a new pen. That’s just how it works, isn’t it? Are homeless people exempt from the rules of gratitude?

I’m not saying that the only reason I gave the man the $20 bill in the first place was so that I could feel better about myself. But yeah, I was looking forward to receiving his gratitude. Gratitude is big for me; it’s as good as receiving a gift in return.

And so I feel almost cheated. I gave him $20 worth of value and he gave me $1 worth of gratitude in return. Is it fair if I go back to him and ask for $19 in change?

I hope he’ll buy himself something he needs with that bill, but next time I’m making it a $5.