An ode to a bah humbug

An ode to a bah humbug

By Shane Collins

~This one’s for Rose~

It’s not that I forget. It’s just that sometimes the day gets away from me. I know, deep down, that you’re around every corner of every building I come across. Every season. Every song. 

Somewhere, within the waking hours of everyday that I live, you are there. 

And all these days, all these years later, I need you here, now. More than ever. 

It’s not that I hate Christmas. 

I love seeing people together. Celebrating. Celebrating love, life, success, the better parts of our lives. I WANT everyone to gather and to hold one another and to tell those people that they are loved. It’s an important thing to do. And it’s being snuffed out like a great fire devouring fields of precious wildflowers.  

This is for my Mother, Rose. 

This is for those sitting alone, during the holidays. 

You are not alone. In our solitude we become strong. 

There are millions of us, sitting by ourselves, finding ways to live to our best and to celebrate our neglect, to celebrate our losses and to find the solace of being alone. We are sitting in a chair at a table with our favourite song on the stereo or we are reading a novel with a glass of wine close by. We also smile. But we cry, too. We let go. We accept the night whether we crave it or not. 

This is for those helping the sick. 

This is for those needing help. 

This is for the sick. 

This is for anyone who lost someone this year.

This is for those left alone. 

Left to the hospital ward. 

Left to the confines of an apartment, coughing your lungs out. 

You are not alone. 

This is for Rose. 

This is for my mother. 

Tonight, with presents to wrap and with wine to drink, I choose to remember a time when Christmas was something I waited for. Something I fantasized about. This is for the Chtistmas of youth. When I was so young and so were my parents. Two people who adopted me and took me in. My brother, too. 

There were goodies to help organize. There was cigarette smoke in the kitchen. Gretzky was on the T.V. Jordan was no-look-passing to Scottie Pippen. Bugs Bunny was on in the mornings. Boney M was on the stereo in the afternoons. Snow was softly falling outside the window of my memory. Snowflakes caught in the lamp light outside.  My mother is there, dancing in the kitchen.

Tonight, being sick, being afraid to be sick around anyone else, I sit with the memories of my youth and of my mother and I welcome the evening ahead of me. If I could see into heaven she’d be at a bowling alley, sitting around some dead celebs. Elvis, Swayze, Hepburn, Cohen, Bukowski, Downie, Orbison, Carlin, Petty, Winehouse, Brown, Prince, JFK, Cobain, Peart, Lemmy, Hunter, Dimebag, Vinnie, MC8 and others are crowded in a bowling alley, somewhere up in Heaven. Cigarette smoke collides with the marijuana. Bob Marley is lacing up his shoes. Spilled beer is rank and saturated in the fibers of the carpet. There’s 25 lanes. Dim lighting. There’s incredible music every night. There’s a stage to the right. Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash are singing a duet of, ‘Silent Night.’

As I sit and get ready to wrap my first present, I imagine mom’s up there getting ready to start the game off. She steps up onto the bowling alley. Patrick Swayze shouts to her, “Yeah Rose. Get ’em! Ha Ha. Let’s BOWL!”

She grabs a ball. She walks to the dots on the boards. She finds her stance. Her hip juts out to the left as she brings her ball up to her chin. She eyes the arrows on the alley, not the pins themselves. She takes three strides and slides into her delivery. The ball gently lofts and crashes down onto the boards. The ball rolls like distant thunder. Then the pins pop and all fall down. She bowls a strike and she fist bumps the air as she turns, smiling. That was my mom. That’s how I remember her tonight and I wanted to share this with those of you who are exhausted and who are alone and who find a way to savour the time. I will share it with me Ma. Her name was Rose. I’m a kid in my heart and in my mind I reminisce. 

Embrace your loved ones and if they’re not around, embrace their memory. 

This one is for Bah Humbug. I guess it’s not such a terrible term.

May everyone be happy this holiday season. Even if you have to create that happiness by yourself. 

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The Okanagan’s been my home since I was born. Life has taken me across the planet several times and through that transient lifestyle I developed a journalistic style to my photography and to my writing. My influences would be that of James Nachtwey, Annie Lebovitz, Ashley Maile, Hunter S Thompson, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Tom Robbins, Wes Anderson and Charles Bukowski. The world outside this incredible valley, its cultures and its mystery is what’s kept me working and trying to save my money, so I can keep getting back into the world. That’s the way it used to be. Covid has opened my eyes to the land I call my home and there are so many tales to tell right here in BC. From tales of the impoverished to the neglected to those who overcome adversity, to the spirit to overcome fear, the power of storytelling has never been more relevant. I’ve always been a storyteller. There’s a tale worth telling in every neighborhood. I just happen to write about what happens to me along the way and I’ve kept them close to my heart, hoping one day I’ll have an outlet so I can tell those stories the best way I know how; by writing them down. From adventures of long ago, both here or maybe far away, future interviews with musicians, artists of all kinds, the coverage of events, the people I meet along the way, whatever I get up to I intend to have you as my guest as I go back in time and dig up the bones of those old adventures or chase down new ones. Through the alchemy of storytelling, you can come along with me if you like. Before Covid-19 I was really coming into my own photographing live shows; punk rock bands, hip hop showcases, tattoo portraits, rock climbing adventures, Femme Fatale burlesque performances you name it, the phone was finally beginning to ring. Then Covid showed up like a hurricane and I guess it wiped us all out in one way or another. I have a real bone to pick with Covid-19 and if I can share some stories for our readers to enjoy, I’ll do that and when we can return to live music and to foreign travel and we can safely get to working on mending what’s been damaged I tell you I want to be ringside like Joe Rogan commentating on Covid getting its ass whooped. I want to see it tap out and watch us overcome this hardship, raise our collective hands triumphantly and move on into whatever new normal is waiting for us. I’ll be there and through my eyes, just like the boss man, Hunter himself, I’ll do it in Gonzo fashion and bring you kicking and screaming along with me. So hold on tight and dig in. It might not always be pretty but I won’t call it all ugly, neither. That’s for you to decide. My name is Shane Collins and I hope you’ll read along with me and our team here at Gonzookanagan.com

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