Christmas Message 2002 – Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights 2002

In the days surrounding the winter solstice, light is all-important to us. Light is knowledge, light is warmth and light is power, but above all is, light is comfort and security.

When it grows dark at 4 PM in this northern setting, the pool of light cast by each street lamp, impersonal high-tech office buildings, outrageously colorful storefronts, or the warm glow that emanates from the windows of scattered houses in a dark countryside, – all are reminders that without light, we are cold and alone, shut out of whatever magic circle the light embraces.

As our city readies itself for the holiday season, we move quickly from shadow and darkness toward the comfort of light.

Sunlight, lamplight, moonlight, candlelight, starlight, firelight, brilliant, twinkling decorations, subtle pools of light from a candle in a window – they remind us that each of us is also point of light that touches others, in different ways, through words, thought, action, gesture and physical proximity. The light we cast has many moods, – pure white, cool blue, warm yellow and orange, comforting green or hot red. In turn, we are touched by hundreds, if not thousands, of others.

As we reflect on the past year, we see it as points, and in some cases, huge explosions, of light

On the very threshold of 2002 – December 30 of last year – amidst candlelight, firelight and Christmas tree lights, we joyfully celebrated Marc’s 33rd birthday and his engagement to Jean. Marc, one of the lights of our lives, has doubled his wattage, bringing the luminous Jean to our family. Many friends joined us on this auspicious occasion, some of whom had known Marc almost as long as we! The evening was a bright, sparkling, many-hued occasion.

They returned to London shortly after the new year to plan their wedding, while we returned to our more mundane activities. Diana, happier than ever, as the pressure increased on the IATA Web team to complete the initial site for the Annual General Meeting (burning the candle at both ends), David, wonderfully tolerant of the long hours and weekends spent at the office, basking in the cool glow of the computer screen.

To start the new year, amidst great fanfare, the Order of Wednesday Night (O.W.N) was created to honor individuals who have profoundly influenced the weekly gatherings, casting the light of their wisdom on numerous subjects. The first recipient, by popular acclaim in the post-merger blues of January, was our Mayor-in-waiting, Peter Trent.

On Wednesday, March 27, we celebrated David’s 70th birthday in the company of many friends, a large dinosaur and the light of birthday candles. He was formally inducted as Chairman of the Order (not that we had many doubts!), and was presented with a magnificent O.W.N. Chain of Office, designed by friends Allan Mass and Harry Mayerovitch.

Appropriately, the symbol of Wednesday Night is a glowing candle, as much a symbol of the warm, candle-lit atmosphere of Wednesday Night, as of the flame of wisdom, sparked by the many fine minds that are so much a part of these unique evenings.

In the long sun-filled days of June, Diana went to Shanghai for the launch of the Web site at the AGM. It was an incredible experience in an amazing city, and followed by a three-day cruise on the Yangtze to see the Three Gorges which have their own special light. What a remarkable and overwhelming country China is. People were very kind and hospitable, new friends acquired, new points of light, reaching out to one another.

Montreal enjoyed long, hot, brilliant days over the summer and attracted many visitors including Cousin Janet Thébaud Gillmar from Honolulu with her daughter, Em. Janet and Diana had not met for years and the reunion was a wonderful experience. Janet went on to France, where her son, Ben, was improving his French, and where they spent time with the de Larosières, Bizots and other members of the Thébaud extended family. Color these points of light, red, white and blue for the enduring links between the French and American clan!

At the beginning of August, we embarked on an unforgettable trip to Singapore and Bali for Marc and Jean’s wedding celebration. Color this experience a pyrotechnical explosion of joyous encounters with Jean’s wonderful father, Seow Chye, and extensive family, Marc and Jean’s friends, a stream of warm hospitality and kindness. The celebrations were joyful, and in turn, funny (bartering for the bride), magnificent (the dinner in Singapore) and touching (the simple, ceremony in the beautiful soft light of Bali, with exquisite young Balinese dancers, and candles floating in the pool). Marc’s and Jean’s friends came from all over the world to be with them, a great tribute to the rays of light they cast across borders and cultures. To our delight, we also spent a number of happy hours with our old and dear friend, Malcolm Scott, who now lives and works in Bali.

Regrettably, Fiona, the other light of our lives, could not make it to the wedding. Her own life had gone through some major changes, including leaving the Bank, moving to her new house in Alberta and setting up her own consulting business, Merlin Performance Solutions.

As we celebrated in Singapore in sultry 30+ temperatures, Fi was contemplating snow in Alberta on August 4th!

She did, however, get as far East as Montreal in late October and we had a wonderful visit with her in the red and yellow light of the Fall. Western life agrees with her, especially the proximity to the mountains and great skiing.

Our adoptive “Chinese daughter”, Anna Chen, has been “home” to Montreal twice this year, bringing us her own special sunny light. She came in the Spring to complete the requirements for her M.B.A., and returned in November to acquire her formal status as a Landed Immigrant. In between visits, she took time off to get married to Sun Jiong in Kunming, Yunnan.

The year has brought many changes to IATA, including decisions to cut budgets and staff. Diana ‘s contract has not been renewed and with great regret, she will leave IATA on December 31st. It has been a wonderful experience, working with exceptional people. But, who knows? New challenges ahead? Another great project? The path is not yet illuminated.

But, a bright light is appearing in the East. There, the greatest of all projects is underway right now – Marc and Jean will make us grandparents in March!

For the first time since the children were born, we will be alone on Christmas Day, giving us the luxury of time to reflect quietly on the tumultuous year that is coming to an end, to examine our priorities, possibly even to decide what we want to be when we grow up.

Whatever we decide, we know that the most important part of our life together is our family and friends and the light that they bring to our lives.

May your holidays be bright and joyous. May the coming year and the rest of your life be healthy, peaceful, prosperous and filled with the glow of many points of light.

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