And that is where it really got interesting. I thought about all the things I have, and I thought about all the things I am so grateful for - and then I realized that while I want very little I have so very much to be thankful for, and I rarely take the time to express those thanks. So, this is what I want for Christmas, I guess - an opportunity to thank some people for the things they have given to me. Since I have this handy little avenue of self-expression I hope you will indulge me.
1. Thank you to the staff of Starbucks at the Thickwood and Downtown Safeways, and the stand-alone on Franklin Avenue. You see me virtually every single day, and you keep me fuelled with the nectar I need to keep moving. And thank you too to the staff at the new David's Tea in the mall, because you keep me supplied in the teas I use at night to wind down after my caffeine-fuelled adventures.
2. Thank you to my hairstylist Ellen of Technicuts, Mucharata of Frost Jewelry, and Helen of Helen Arong Fine Fashion - you guys let me explore my love of fashion and keep me looking presentable for both work and play. And besides all that all three of you are incredibly inspirational women following your own dreams of entrepreneurial success and following your passion, and your drive fuels my own to follow my own dreams, too.
3. Thank you to the Alberta government for the interchange completion ahead of schedule. This is an early gift I cannot ignore, because it has made my life so much easier. I work at MacDonald Island and live in Thickwood, and I recall heading home the first evening after the new ramp at the end of Franklin opened. I turned right and travelled up it in almost complete disbelief, my mind singing "free at last, free at last, I thank God I am free at last" as I made it home in eight minutes. Eight. Minutes. You have given me some precious time back in my life, and I am so very grateful.
4. Thank you to the people who let me write for them. Krista Balsom of Your McMurray Magazine, Andryia Browne of Connect Weekly, and the folks at Northword have given me the opportunity to say what I want to say and to explore the stories close to my heart, and I am so very grateful, because when you are a writer you have words you need to get out, and I am incredibly thankful to have places I can do it.
5. Thank you to all the social profit organizations who let me work with them in any capacity. Maybe they were under the illusion I was helping them in some way, but they are entirely wrong as they were most definitely helping me to grow and develop as a person and a writer. Thank you too for all they have done for the Intrepid Junior Blogger, as so many have invited her to learn more about them as well, and I am so grateful that they have give her the opportunity to discover what philanthropy and volunteerism truly means.
6. Thank you to the people who got me into my new house this year, where I will spend Christmas with the Intrepid Junior Blogger and what we now refer to as the Intrepid Circus and Zoo Menagerie. My realtor, Cassandra Slade, also happens to be one of my best friends, and when I needed to find a home, not just a house, she helped me to find it, patiently wading through a lot of not-its to find "it". And then Men In Black got me moved, even moving a ridiculously heavy upright grand piano without a word of complaint, and only occasionally asking how many boxes of shoes I had exactly.
7. Thank you to the people I work with. It is hard for me to actually explain what it is like to work at MacDonald Island Park, because it is far more than I ever imagined. What has happened is that since February I have become part of a team, but not just any team. I have become part of a team that inspires each other to be better every day, that supports each other, and that works together to bring amazing things to this region. I would say I am "proud" but that is ridiculously inadequate. I'm actually just damn excited and thrilled to come to work every day.
8. Thank you to those little local businesses that not only provide me with goods and services but that make me smile with their passion, vision, and drive. From the ladies at Bearstone Bakehouse and their baking that has allowed me to host an incredible house warming party and give my co-workers great holiday treats to Clearwater Coffee in Habitual Sports (where Chris makes the best latte in town) to Mitchell's for keeping me supplied in salads and soups these little businesses do what they do without a franchise or chain behind them, and they have not only my support and loyalty but my admiration, too.
9. Thank you to the people I argue with on Twitter. No, seriously, thank you. And not just the ones I argue with but the ones I banter with or just chat with, because those dialogues help me to grow (even the arguments).
10. Thank you. For reading this blog, or liking my Facebook page, or following me on Twitter, or sending me an email (and patiently waiting for a response, as this full-time job, single-parent, Intrepid Circus and Zoo ringmaster life of mine means I am just not as quick to respond as I used to be). Thank you for sending me kind words, and for stopping me on the street to tell me you enjoyed something I have written. Thank you for contacting me on Facebook - and I will even thank you for sending me hate mail, because at least it means you are paying attention (and I read every single word of that hate mail to see if somewhere in it is a nugget of truth that I need to consider, too).
So, what do I want for Christmas? I suppose I want to sleep in, and wear pyjamas, and watch TV with the IJB, and cuddle the cat and the dog and play with the ferrets and eat some cookies and drink lots of coffee with Baileys. But otherwise I don't actually "want" a damn thing - because I already have so much, more than Santa Claus could ever fit in a sack. All I want for Christmas is right here, in my life in Fort McMurray - and so I say thank you!
This is one of my favourite Christmas songs of all time,
from one of my very favourite movies -
with a young Judy Garland.