Christmas Letter – 2022

It’s Christmas Eve.  I meant to be writing this on the train on the way to Cornwall, where my family is.  I had reserved a rental car, as usual, but had second thoughts.  It costs over $700 CAD to rent a car for three days, if those three days include a holiday.  I paid it for Labour Day, but I really do not like supporting highway robbery.  So, three weeks ago, I booked train tickets and one week ago, I cancelled the car.  With the massive, continent wide storm this week, I was feeling pretty smug this morning.

I can, and did, walk to Central Station underground.  It takes longer than I thought so I had to hoof it to get to the station with 10 minutes to spare.  I need not have rushed.  My train, and every other train going west to Toronto, was cancelled.  The line to reschedule or refund snaked halfway around the perimeter of the station.  While I was in line, I put in a call to VIA Rail and, after an hour or so, it answered.  Lo and behold, I am rebooked out of here tomorrow morning at 8:50am and writing to you from my adjustable bed, with my feet up. 

It could have been a lot worse.  A tree had fallen on the track and had actually hit an engine.  The poor people on that train got to freeze for hours until they were rescued.  I would not have liked that.

December in Montreal has been a lot of fun and all the winter I have to bear.  The fun started on December when I finally had my housewarming party, two years late and still under the shadow of COVID.  Two couples cancelled because of it and I lost five more people to fear of COVID.  In the end 30 people came and it wasn’t crowded at all.  My caterers were fabulous, and their delicious Cocktail dinatoire left no one hungry.  My entertainer, Maxence Lapierre, did me proud, too.  He played all the old party songs from the sixties and seventies and even had us old farts up dancing.  Old Napa habits die hard and I had bought six cases of wine, which proved to be excessive, but there is a lot less Mumm Napa left than Bourgogne blanc or pinot noir. 

My friend Ginger’s Toy Tea, started in her home 31 years ago, was able to return in person this year and was held at an armory, since Ginger is in the army now.  There were more children’s choirs than you could shake a wreath at.  Here’s one.  Note the beautiful diversity in our city now. 

And there were meals at Bonaparte and plays at Centaur, Bach’s mass in B minor at Place des Arts and a lovely evening at the Canadian Grenadier Guards party, courtesy of Honorary Lieutenant Colonel Ginger Petty.  I didn’t get a picture of me with Ginger in her splendid uniform but there were two actual guards at the door and I do have this:

It was one of those very special winter nights, too, where our weather is on display.  I took this one walking to Ginger’s house for the pre-party party. 

It could be a Christmas card, that. 

Because I am running for daylight to get out of town on January 1, my Christmas décor isn’t much this year but I did bring out Fran Neilsen’s St Nicholas cat.

I just love him and I love all of you, too.  So a very

To one all with love and purrs, from Helen and Robbie

And I am off on the Zuiderdam for 4 ½ months, leaving January 1 and sailing January 3.  Back May 12.

Email will always work and I can WhatsApp you by appointment.  

In an emergency you can phone the ship directly at 1-800-993-5483 or +1-321-837-6106 from outside the USA.