PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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Dreamy

I think I will never see a White Christmas again unless I move to Mount Everest. An exaggeration, of course. I am a citizen of Canada and could easily move north if I need snow on Christmas. I think I'd have to move pretty far north, however. Maybe the Yukon. The city of Whitehorse got a few flakes on Christmas Day, I am led to believe. This seems like a reliable enough destination.

As I plan my move to Whitehorse, I notice that it will take 61 hours to drive there from my current home in Massachusetts. I'm not sure my 2007 Mazda 3 has 61 hours of tread left its tires, and that isn't even factoring in that rural Canadian roads are notorious for being poorly kept. One may note the large potholes encountered enroute to the frigid (but White Christmas-y) Yukon destination and report them to Canada, but Canada is busy trying to settle down it's enfant terrible, Quebec, which is levying extra fees on out-of-province college students in an apparent effort to rid itself of higher-ed scourges, such as McGill University. Complain anyway! What is the gas tax for if not to fix the road to the Yukon? Your call will be answered by a pleasant government official, who will note your complaint and, in a few years, maybe after McGill uproots itself and moves to Whitehorse, someone will come to repair those potholes.

You'd think that Whitehorse, located some 1,500 miles north of Seattle, would have limitless cheap real estate for McGill to gobble up when it joins me in the Yukon, but it turns out that the real estate isn't very cheap after all. A three bedroom, three bath attached home on a postage stamp lot will run you more than half a million dollars. That's the cost of doing business in a region that is home to large mammals, such as Grizzly Bears. As McGill will require a lot of space for its 30,000 undergraduates, you can expect that the cost of building a bear-free campus in Whitehorse will be passed along to the higher-ed consumer.

OK, maybe becoming a Yukoner isn't the perfect solution to my White Christmas quest, but you have to admit that it's intriguing. I've been dreaming of a White Christmas for so long that it's beginning to feel a lot like a waste of my dreaming energy. Maybe next year we'll get snow in New England at the end of December. 

(Yeah. Keep Dreaming.) 

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Ghosts of Christmas Past

When I was a kid, I felt ripped off at Christmastime because I didn't get to wake up on December 25th and tear open presents like all my Catholic school friends were doing. Instead, my family was on the road, spending the holiday in Quebec at my grandparents' house.

I loved my grandparents – they were enormously kind people – but limited space in our Country Squire station wagon and evil Canadian border guards who seemed ready to confiscate our belongings meant that only a few small gifts could be brought with us, to be opened by the relatives.

Bear with me, it gets worse.

While my friends had gone to bed early on Christmas Eve without a complaint, knowing that the sooner they fell asleep the sooner Christmas morning would arrive, my early bedtime had no such rainbow on the other side. Instead, I was cruelly roused out of my slumber at 11:30 and made to march with my sisters in the frigid cold to tiny St. Patrick's church, where I tried to stay awake for Father Boudreau's scintillating celebration of midnight mass.

The reward – an all-night "Reveillon" back at my grandparents – with ham sandwiches, sugar pie, and adults drinking and cackling until daylight while we kids played with the Victrola and watched TV – was no substitute for the excitement that my friends experienced of waking up to piles and piles of presents brought by Santa on a sleigh.

I received little sympathy for this unfathomable injustice: several times I was reminded that not only was I not denied gifts, but actually got to open them early, since we always departed for Canada a few days before Christmas and opened our gifts before we left home. Still, all the great stuff I had received – like the electric football table that vibrated to move the plastic statuettes of players across the field – was out of reach hundreds of miles away due to crazy rules that border guards apply to wreck Christmas for kids like I used to be.

My mom, a wise woman who realized the opportunities that these annual pilgrimages presented, soon implemented a new tradition: when it was time to leave for Canada and we were all piled into the car with no handheld devices to stare at – she would declare that she needed to pee, then disappeared for 10 minutes. This awfully long bio-break was simply a ruse to fill our stockings with gifts, such that when we returned from our grandparents' place, we'd discover that Santa hadn't forgotten us after all.

OK, so maybe my childhood wasn't quite so awful. As Christmas night 2022 turns into the day after Christmas, it occurs to me that what we had back then – grandma and grandpa, plenty of good food, and the part where they shake you awake on a cold night to attend a mass that I despised –was magical in its own special way. 

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J'Biden Era Haikuage

 

People's Arms. That's right!

200 million shots

In 100 days

 

We are good people

But we still have far to go

Repair. Restore. Heal.

 

There's nothing new here

The Affordable Care Act

We're restoring it 

 

America's Day

Democracy is fragile

The world is watching 

 

Strategy is based

On Science, not politics

Truth, not denial

 

 

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