Thursday December 28, 2017
The temperature is now consistently below zero, with snow and slush everywhere on the streets. It's strange looking at it from within my very warm apartment, because it can be sunny yet -15C outside, and quite a shock when I leave the building.
Things got pretty busy for me as the year wrapped up. I attended my first Ubisoft Christmas Party at the Canadian Broadcasting Centre, where a band called the Cybertronic Spree entertained us by dressing as Transformers and playing the Pokemon Theme Song. There were circus performers and lots of food and alcohol, and such a great atmosphere to celebrate my first four months with the company.
Ubisoft gave us the Friday before Christmas off. I took the opportunity to run a few errands in the morning - even getting in some time to do some Pokemon Go raiding. I tagged along with Victor in the afternoon, and we hit a few nests around the Junction/High Park area, getting lots of Pokemon in the process. It's horrible to play in such cold temperatures, but not too bad if you have a car to go around. In the afternoon, I headed into town to check out the Christmas Market down in the Distillery District, where it was totally packed with locals and tourists alike. I got some chocolate from the famous chocolatier, SOMA, and then went to Chinatown for hot pot and some games afterwards.
On Saturday, my badminton crew had dinner and karaoke at a restaurant out in Markham. The clientele is mostly Chinese, and as a result, so was the song selection. I let it slip the only Mandarin song I knew was Tong Hua, so I had to sing it. The native speakers seemed quite impressed with my pronunciation and singing ability, despite my inability to speak Mandarin, so I'll call that a win for me.
There were two church services on Christmas Eve, both of which I played piano for. It was quite a challenge, trying to make sure everything was in order musically, but I think the worship team and choir came together quite nicely. I was surprised that it all fell into place and nothing majorly disastrous happened, because I only had a few hours of sleep the night before - I got home late from karaoke, around 1am, and I had troubles sleeping because I was so stressed about waking up early in the morning. A family took me for lunch to Swiss Chalet after the morning service, then dropped me home for a quick nap before I came back for the evening service. Afterwards, I went to a workmate's house for an amazing Christmas Eve dinner with turkey, salads, and a cold pasta dish marinated with a Japanese sweet-and-sour plum vinaigrette.
As I walked home, the snow was falling. It was serene and quiet, everything I had imagined a white winter Christmas to be. It was pretty awesome to see the Christmas lights on peoples' homes illuminate the fresh snow with all sorts of colours, and I can finally appreciate all the winter imagery that's so commonly associated with Christmas.
Another church family had invited me out to their house in Etobicoke for Christmas lunch, so that's where I spent most of my day. I managed to call my parents in Malaysia, and my sister in New Zealand as well, and got to hear from my excited nephews about what presents they got and what they got up to back home. I really do miss them, and I'm looking forward to going back to New Zealand sometime next year to see them, and all my other friends too.