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The Road Journal

And So This Is Christmas

It's easy to get caught up in nostalgia around the holidays. This is generally even more pervasive as we round the corner from Christmas into the New Year, though I have a feeling many people are looking back at the last 365 days and saying, "Well, 2016 was shit." (Thanks, Donald...)

This last rotation around the sun has been eventful, to say the least:

I graduated college. I got a job. (Well, sort of... maybe... not really.) I fell in love; it didn't work out. I moved into my truck; it worked out splendidly. I thought about getting a dog. No, I haven't gotten a dog... yet.

I ate lots of oatmeal. I argued against the refrigeration of cheese. My beer consumption plummeted from one per night to one per month.

I look like this.

I've been warmer. (Alaska Highway, BC)

Hmmm. Enough said about that. 

I met old friends in new places and made new friends in old places. I camped on glorious mountain tops. I camped at Walmart. I spent multiple nights in a Northern BC mushrooming camp.

I sold huckleberries. I sold mushrooms. I even sold photos, believe it or not.

I traveled further north than I've ever been and as far west as the American National Highway System permits. I think I may have discovered Cat Stevens' famed "Miles from Nowhere." 

"Miles from nowhere... guess I'll take my time." - Cat Stevens (Haines Jct., Yukon Territory)

And now, here we are: five months into living on the road, watching snow fall outside my truck window each night as the clock ticks ever closer to 2017.

My photos give me a moment frozen in time amid the blur of the past five months. (Revelstoke, BC)

"And so this is Christmas... and what have you done?"

The lyrics from John Lennon's 1971 "Happy Xmas / War is Over" have been playing in my head on repeat since early December. Don't get me wrong, I've always enjoyed the song (not as much as a good acoustic piano piece from George Winston's December album, but it's up there)--but this year it carried a little extra sentiment.

For 22 years, the holidays have represented a time to celebrate with friends and family. Now, it's not unusual for recent college grads to experience their first holidays away from their families--work constraints and the lack of a formal "winter break" make my case hardly unique. But I think it's safe to say most of my peers will engage in some form of camaraderie over the next week.

I've always noted two key elements to holiday festivities: a social gathering and good food. (I could spew all sorts of anthropological BS as to why these two things brings us together as humans, but I'll leave that to Malcolm Gladwell or someone with an actual background in the matter.)

I think that's what makes this holiday feel so odd: I'm not sure I'll experience either. 

I'll probably go skiing alone. Maybe I'll try to find a place to treat myself to a hot shower. I'll likely eat at least one bowl of oatmeal. 

And honestly, that's okay.

Not skiing on Christmas in the Kootenays is probably a punishable offense. (Revelstoke, BC)

The holidays aren't a time for woeful reminiscence--it's a time to be thankful for all that you've experienced and all that lies ahead. In the end, I'm still out here--pursuing a passion I love, living a life I dreamed of (well, mostly) and trying every day to do something that makes me feel a little more alive. The thousands of miles that separate us hasn't curtailed my parents' support, my friends' encouragement or my stoke for the road ahead.

If anything, it's fuel for the fire.

So bring on the new day, the New Year, new places and new people.

Where will I be on Christmas 2017?

Hell, I don't even know where I'll be in three days. And that's just how I'm living life.

"Another year over; and a new one just begun..."

To the next thousand miles... (Alaska Highway, Yukon Territory)

Matthew TuftsComment