Christmas in Iqaluit is a pretty unique experience. I’ve celebrated Christmas with family and friends in vastly different ways. From time honored family gatherings on Christmas Eve that spilled over onto Christmas day to whirlwind dinner feasts at friends’ homes. Each experience different. Each one memorable.
Two Christmas’ ago we had the pleasure of adding even more new memories to our mental rolodex. To all you young bucks out there a rolodex was a manual device for storing names, addresses and phone numbers. Yeah we didn’t have a microchip to do all the thinking for us back in the days. If you liked someone you had to actually remember their info and write that shit down. Bah… kids these days.
Anyway, back to my old man recollection…
Suzanne and I were introduced to an entirely new and utterly foreign concept of friendship. It was rough going at the start of our tour of duty here. Our prescribed housing had fallen through while we were heading up and we’d be trapped in a hotel for over a month with two, young fur monsters and a good portion of our belongings (that we couldn’t use). 7 days before Christmas we managed to get a grossly overpriced apartment to stay in temporarily. It was our first Christmas here and we hardly knew anyone. The stress of our housing situation coupled with the awe of being in a totally new environment made us feel quite isolated and alone. A very sweet couple invited us over to her place for Christmas dinner. It was a shock to us. We had only known them for less than a month and yet they opened their open to us. There we feasted for hours, talked for even longer, played games, drank the finest alcohol and were introduced to a core group of individuals who today are our closest friends up here today. It was the kind of welcoming community experience you see in sappy made-for-TV holiday movies and made a lasting impression on the both of us.
We were never really the super social types back in the K-dub. We weren’t douches mind you. We had a very small but tight network of friends that we were very dedicated to but we never really went out of our way to welcome new ones into the fold. After that first Christmas in Iqaluit it opened our eyes to the fact that not everyone is “out to get you”. There are legitimately good natured people out there who genuinely care for other people’s well being. People who don’t care about creed, color or sexual preference. People who can just treat people like people. It was a hard concept to swallow at first but after weeks, months and now years of unwavering friendship I am a true believer.
Trust me. I’m not saying Iqaluit is some sort of Utopia. There are bad apples, nutbars and assclowns just like anywhere else in the world. It is a true community though no matter what. A place where people band together during tragedy and help their fellow residents. A place where people go that extra mile to help out friends in need. A place where people will get together and party for the silliest reasons. A place where a cynical African American/Puerto Rican/Italian artist from New York and his sarcastic Polish/German Canadian geographer wife can hang out with a Japanese/Brazilian professional photographer and his Indian R&B singing architect girlfriend on Christmas Eve and sip on egg nog loaded with a generous portion of maple whiskey chilled with ice cubes chiseled from an iceberg while feasting on a traditional Indian style meal.
Only in Iqaluit folks.
Thank you to everyone who has made this the most depressing, stressful, enlightening, mind blowing, unforgettable, humbling, exciting, motivational, joyous, and most of all remarkable time of my life.
Happy Holidays people!