Driving Home for Christmas – but somebody will be missing  –

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I drive home at Christmas,
I can’t wait to see those faces,
I’m driving home for Christmas, yeah –
I’m moving on this line. . .

Gordon Lightfoot, which I wrote a few weeks ago, once had a lyric: “The Circle is Small.” Mine has gotten smaller this year, but more on that in a moment. In the meantime, I have to tell you about some of my friends – the people I take the time to think about at this time of year.

Once upon a time, I had five really close friends. Two of them – Dave Getz and Roger Stanyon – are outdated now but I have a picture of the three of us in my office that I look at from time to time. We are in a hut, sitting at a picnic table. There are many cars from the 1960s in the background. The top of the picnic table is covered with empty beer bottles. Stubbies. Hope we have a good time.

Now I am of three friends – distinct from many ordinary acquaintances and friends whom I am fortunate to have. I can’t identify the first person by name because what I’m going to tell you about is embarrassing. Then there’s Barry, and he did mental health work in the province of British Columbia before retiring to a house in the hills above Penticton, BC, I have a form letter to keep sending him asking if he’s OK because of a) fires, or b) floods . He’s been good on both counts – so far. But you are worried about the coming winter.

Then there’s Peter, who has money coming out of his ears and will travel the world visiting his daughters and their families except, like most of us, he’s had to stay home. In his case, he was touring the Laurentians north of Montreal due to COVID-19. He has about 100 acres full of maple trees, so even though he can’t go anywhere, he makes maple syrup to keep him from going crazy and that makes him more money. We should all be very lucky.

Then there’s the friend I can’t name. This is because he was very successful in the media, made a lot of money, was single for many years, married a woman much younger than him and had no pre-marital. He did something stupid – guys like that – and I divorced him. I took it to the cleaners and when I say cleaners, I mean the cleaners. Today he’s driving a school bus, which is funny when you think about it but not so funny if you’re him.

Top to toe in rear cars,
Oh, I have red lights everywhere;
But soon there will be a highway, yes –
Get my feet on the holy ground. . .

In recent weeks, people have been ready for a happy holiday and to travel to warm places like Florida or Arizona. Then another variant of COVID-19 emerged and everyone is now in a state of jitters. I don’t want to get serious, but I will tell you how to get around this thing: Everyone should be vaccinated – and I mean everyone. The government should make it law. With everyone vaccinated, there will be no one left to infect and COVID-19 itself will die. Until that happens, stay two meters apart, wear a mask and wash your hands often. Stay in your bubble on Christmas Day. you will be fine.

My sister Barbara Jane MacDonald, of Stelarton, Pictou County, NS, got her first shot early this year. She never had a chance to get a second. She fell suddenly, fell violently ill and died in April. I was – and still am – devastated.

Norris pillar

Until a few years ago, Jane worked on a farm in the East River Valley, where she taught young children. It also took unwanted livestock. My late uncle, Dale MacDonald, nicknamed the place “The Fun Farm” because of animals like “Hoppity” who couldn’t move their hind legs. She outfitted a golf cart-type strap to allow the load to pull itself around the yard, but it often fell off. Two children from the school were assigned every day to watch her and shout “Hoppity down!” “Fun down!” It caused the rest of the students to run outside to help her get on her front feet and back wheels again.

Once, Jane was in Halifax and entered a mall with a petting zoo. The children would buy ‘food’, which was really sweet, to give him a little goat. My sister found the owner of the zoo, blamed him for exploiting the animal, and when the man asked her what she was going to do about it, she went and got $200 from her bank machine and gave it to him. She said, “There, I just bought it.” I carried her out of the mall, put her in the back seat of her car, and drove her home to her farm, where she lived out her days happily.

Her care and generosity were not limited to animals. She helped people with dementia, and was a “Y” volunteer. The nearby town of Westville recently honored her by naming her its Volunteer of the Year, 2021, even though she’s been gone since April.

So happy birthday, everyone. Enjoy the holiday. And don’t take any of your friends or relatives for granted because you might turn your head one day to say hi and find that they are no longer around. Life is precious but it is something you can lose with the touch of a finger.

like my sister.

So I sing to you –
Even though you can’t hear me,
when i cross
And I feel you close to me,

driving in my car,
Driving home for Christmas

Norris MacDonald, former Editor-in-Chief of Wheels, covers Canadian cars and the Star’s global racing scene. He is a member of the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame. or follow him on Twitter @NorrisMcDonald2.

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