Mi Casa Su Casa (My Coat: Your Coat)

There I was thinking about the perfect sort of wool coat that I would just love for this fall, while aware that I can’t really justify the cost or the need for yet another coat, when all of a sudden while digging for papers in the attic, I find a pristine Hudson Bay 4-point blanket coat.

Hudson Bay 4-point blanket

Hudson Bay 4-point blanket

You know the kind; off-white wool with the coloured bands.

I try it on, and voila! It fits! What kind of magical universe do we live in anyway, where you just want things and they appear?

I tell myself that this coat fetish is the result of too many years without one. I remember being 11 years old or so and delivering the Globe and Mail at 5am. I’ll admit that I was probably the worst delivery girl ever, constantly zoning out and wondering, “Did I give one to that house and they brought it in already, or did I forget it?” I hated to collect money and would usually burst into tears when I had to ask, particularly if the people didn’t have it on them since I was always behind in the collecting.

However, this is when I first met the wonders of the universe. I’d like to say that I thought of it like The Force, an energy that binds and pervades all of us, but truly, I thought it was just me. (You can’t imagine what a relief it is to read stuff like The Secret and find out that all of you can wield the force as well; whew, so I don’t have to save the universe all by myself!) Anyway, maybe it was just mind over matter, when on cold winter mornings in Guleph (Ontario) I used to head out to deliver my papers, no coat to speak of, and I’d do a little “please please please” dance to the moon and stars in the hope that they would keep me warm. It generally worked, at least long enough to get the papers sorted, stuffed and delivered.

This is my excuse when people think I have quite enough coats already. “I don’t have one for THIS occasion,” I tell them, and hope that I never have occasion to need a newspaper delivery coat again.

So I text around to find out how this coat really wound up in my attic (after test-driving it on a walking tour of the neighbourhood with my dear Stella) and find that it is yet another in my brother Andrew’s collection of ladies coats (?) that don’t fit him (??). His girlfriend assures me that he is saving it for his ebay retirement scheme and ok’d the notion of me keeping it warm till then.

What is family for but to give away each other’s clothes and fulfill all your little fashion whims?

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What came first, the bunny or the egg?

So Getnet comes for Easter Brunch and after a while says ‘What is the significance of bunnies and eggs?’ Being Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia, this is his first exposure to Canadian Easter traditions. I had taken pains to point out that ours was probably not a typical Easter, involving as it does a crepes brunch, followed by two birthday cakes, an Easter egg hunt and finally a pinata filled with goodies. By the time we get to the gigantic chocolate egg that I have brought from Montreal, the diabetic comas prevail and most of us abstain.

I have a big family. There is a lot of blah blah blah that goes on at any family gathering and as far as I know we all look forward to it. We also all look forward to fresh ears – people who haven’t heard the best of the stories yet. There’s a lull in the usual loquaciousness as we briefly glance around to see if anyone actually knows the answer to Getnet’s question, and then the stories start to fly. One answer starts with Pagan traditions, another with Jesus and a third with Timothy Eaton.

I doubt if Getnet was any closer to the real story by the end, but it did make me realize that the unifying themes in all of our family celebrations are food and festivities with family and friends. There are correlations between the intuitive family dynamics and the community-building wisdom that I am reading about and seeing develop at CSI and in the ‘hood. Though we give them different names, I suppose a family is a small community, interacting with others to form a neighbourhood, growing to a municipality, a society… you get the picture. It’s not hard then to find answers when you wonder what causes all the strife between cultures or societies; one only has to look to the family to see conflict in all its variation.

I considered our strange aggregate family Easter and I couldn’t help but wonder if this is how traditions usually start; a shared desire, an assessment of needs and resources, and a call to action. Perhaps the key to lasting traditions and to community-building is fluidity – and a short memory! ‘Haven’t we always done it like this?’ Keeping good things that come along, losing stale things along the way.

Does the reason matter? Fertility? Resurrection? Chocolate? Who cares what the excuse for the gathering is if the point is to get together and be a part of what’s important. Like family and friends and food and festivities.

“Reminds me of home,”  says Getnet. Turns out he has a big family too.