the post-christmas lag

There comes an unmistakeable lull in excitement after Christmas. It's hard to deny the depressing contrast in activity after all of the presents have been unwrapped and Christmas dinner has come and gone. Yet there is a pleasant kind of emotion that comes bundled with the sorrow: a content peacefulness, perhaps related to the Christmas magic still leftover. We all try to hold on to that magic somehow; whether it's by leaving the lights up for "just one more week", eating an entire Terry's chocolate orange in less than two days or drinking more hot chocolate than water.

I made some real memories this Christmas..

  • Getting lost and taking the [very long] scenic route on gift delivery trips.
  • Spending the night before Christmas Eve on a drive with a wonderful father and brilliant best friend, giving "tackiest" and "biggest" awards to light displays on houses around the city. 
  • Finishing said drive at the highest -- and windiest -- point in the city, where Dad tried for five minutes to take a picture of us while we almost lost our scarves and dignities. 
  • Drinking gigantic mugs of cocoa similar to what they must serve on the Polar Express.
  • Yelling "MERRY CHRISTMAS, RICK!" to Rick Mercer (it's a Canadian thing) from rolled-down car windows while doing last-minute shopping.
  • Intense games of Skittle Ball and Monopoly. 
  • Letting Dad convince me that all Mom wanted for her birthday was a four-slice toaster.
.. The kind of memories shared during "remember when.." moments over coffee or at late-night sleepovers. Weatherproof memories that refuse to leave the files of your brain whether you want them to or not. Memories that last.


o christmas tree

Fragrant boughs of green, adorned in memories. Swedish glass figures, glistening from in front of white twinkle bulbs. A cedar wooden moose from an old general store in Ontario, representing our family's Canadian traits. Handmade pinky-sized mittens and felted balls, made for the tree by my mother. Vintage colored baubles in different shapes and patterns, inherited from the house when we first moved in. Cheerful painted wooden snowmen and nutcrackers, bringing me back to Christmas trees of the past. All of these ornaments combined result in a tree unlike anything you'll find in a Martha Stewart magazine.

Yet, it's beautiful to me; to us. Honestly, we wouldn't have our tree any other way. We tend to lose track of time while admiring its beauty. The tree lights lure us to the living room and then the woodstove does its job to keep us near. I'd gladly sleep on the couch, gazing at the lights until my eyes finally close.

Whether your tree is artificial or real; themed or free-for-all; with white lights or colored, I encourage you to plop down in front of it with your hot drink of choice and lose yourself in the sight.


a new coat of paint

 My bedroom walls, once painted in robin's egg blue and spring green, are now the shade of an off-white cloudy sky; the kind of sky that reminds me of something big about to happen. This is the first time I've given my walls new life since I moved into my room in the fifth grade. The event of repainting - as well as rearranging and redesigning - my bedroom supplies an ideal metaphor for my current life circumstances: I am turning my life around, starting anew just like the new coat of paint on my walls.

I debated for a long time over whether I would bring my blog into this thing that has happened to me, the largest tragedy (or blessing, depending on how you view it) to take place in my life so far. I came to a decision that my blog could not go on without it; the recent events of my life have shaped me more than anything ever has. These events are part of my history, my story. If I were to hide them away and continue pretending that life was one-hundred-percent lovely, I wouldn't be able to fully embrace myself.

On November 16th, I was called to the hospital. After meeting with a doctor and receiving multiple tests, I was determined as medically unstable due to anorexia nervosa. I had a resting heart rate in the 30s; information that I later learned to be a very bad thing as I lay, unable to sleep, sobbing in hysterics each time my heart monitor loudly beeped as my heart rate dropped lower. The honest reason why I was admitted to the hospital that day? Because I was dying. Slowly, but surely. Over the long course of 2012, I had somehow submitted to a soul-consuming eating disorder until it had reached a point of almost no return. 

During my first week at the hospital, I only saw myself in the mirror on the occasion that the nurse would push me to the washroom in a wheelchair. In those very few private moments with just me and the reflection, I could barely believe what my eyes met: an emaciated girl with hollow eyes, sallow skin and bones as prominent and fragile as a baby bird's. For the first week or so,  I was on extremely strict bedrest - I even had to brush my teeth in bed - along with other protocol rules like bathroom supervision, no showers, cloyingly sweet liquid meal supplements, taking vitals six times a day, daily bloodwork and constantly being hooked up to the heart monitor. While lying in bed, staring wistfully out the hospital window at the crisp November weather, it came to me: I don't want to die, not yet. Not when there are still bakeries in Paris to discover, best friends to meet, stories to write, thousands of photos to take, family to hug, Christmases to plan for, fireworks to see and a hundred possible futures to pursue. 

I spent one long week in the medicine wing and at least three weeks in the psychiatric ward before the doctor started letting me leave on 'passes' gradually; at first, only for a couple of hours, then overnight, then 24 hours and then 48 hours. After all of the jars of tears I shed, after all of the nights I endured in my hospital room, after all of the hopeless moods, after all of the crummy hospital meals: the doctor is planning to discharge me on Friday, December 21st. Discharge was the one thing I truly wanted for Christmas this year, and with all of my hard work, I'm getting it. The past month or so has been the most enduring of my existence, but has also been the loudest wake-up call I've ever received. I feel a hundred years older inside. The lessons I learned in the hospital have made me wiser. All of the doctors and nurses have remarked that I glow. I might be happier than I've ever been. 

I'm not ashamed. I'm not hiding anything. I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. I'm not going to try to re-write my history. This is my story.