In the long days since a massive earthquake devastated the country of Haiti, the onslaught of video, stories and pictures of the aftermath have proven to be sickeningly sad. Yet somehow today, something affected me more than anything else I’ve seen, an image of police shooting at ” Looters” in Port Au Prince. I guarantee you, if I lost my family right before my eyes, managed to climb, or get pulled out of a rubble of concrete, had to spend the following week looking up at the sky, praying for the circling planes to land and bring medical supplies to those with festering wounds in the streets, orphanages and nursing homes, where people who don’t believe that help will ever arrive and hope for death to take them soon, I would break a window or two. If I had not eaten for over a week and the only drop of water I put to my lips was riddled with parasites, disease and filth and made me sick instantly, I would grab a stale loaf of bread I could not pay for ( because I lost everything single thing I ever had in the quake), from the store where I broke the window. If journalists were the only foreigners I saw, because the UN was too afraid to come to my neighborhood, claiming it’s too dangerous and my child lay dying in my arms, I would eat the glass from the broken window, if I thought it would help. Now, the same people that are impressionable enough to listen to and believe in Pat Robertson (who last week addressed the American people and said the Haitian people were getting their just desserts after making a pact with the devil centuries ago), have another dirty weapon in their arsenal when questioning why their government is helping a ” lawless” country, instead of lowering taxes. Why some of the aid money isn’t to buy out the stores filled with food, soap, diapers, and toilet paper and to hire security to distribute it, instead of trying to keep them away, is beyond me. The Haitian people are not ” thieves” , they are desperate, starving and thirsty. More importantly they are sons, fathers, daughters, mothers, sisters and brothers and they are doing whatever they can to survive, and survival should never be considered a crime.
Tonight is a big night for the Doyles, a big night for the Private Investigating industry in Canada and a big night for Newfoundland. I have lived my whole life with people getting in my face and asking me ” your name is what?” or ” How do you say that for God’s sake? Damanit, Damanah, Damnbrat?” and when they do attempt to spell it, a swear word is jammed in the middle, or at the very least a ph. So outside of the island and even though it too has been mispronounced, I have clung on to my last name as some sort of personal ID, like a life preserver. I should at this point disclose that after twenty years of pronouncing my name ” Davnet” , I learned from a friend of my mothers that my first name is actually pronounced “Downith” and that in Ireland, ” Damhnait” is the patron saint of mentally ill people. Doyle, however is a name that means a lot of things, it means family, good times, occasional brushes with the law and a bucket load of love. So I am proud to see it plastered over every single bus shelter, billboard, television station and website in this country and I for one cannot wait until tonight to tune into ” Republic Of Doyle” on CBC. To see the culmination of months and months of hard work by the best film crews and actors in the country and to know it’s as pure, true and 100 % Newfoundland as Purity biscuits, is spectacular. By this point it’s safe to say that after seeing him get punched in the face eight million times in the trailer for ROD that everybody knows who Allan Hawco is, but besides for being the creator and lead actor of the show, he is someone who gets the impossible done. Like anybody who has ever met him, I know that the only thing that has ever truly mattered to him is family, friends and of course Newfoundland and to see someone go after their dreams and slam-dunk it, is inspiring beyond belief. I am buttering up the popcorn, cracking a beer, sitting down on the couch and turning on the TV and I can’t wait to watch with you all.
I don’t have any idea where all the time has gone this Christmas. I do however know exactly where the food has gone and that would be on a direct flight to my stomach. There are so many things like Mount Scio dressing and peas pudding that I can’t seem to put down at this time of year and that’s even before I take the first bite of the addiction forming substance known as casserole, which has just the right combination of vegetable and fat to glue an artery permanently shut. I guess that’s why they are known as special occasion dishes, because even though a green bean or broccoli casserole “sounds” healthy, anyone who has ever made one or witnessed it’s creation knows it’s pure sin on a dish and I for one love it more than winning a brand new car in a lotto draw. I have also loved being able to sleep in so late, so late that I actually found myself having to lie about it on a couple of occasions to my friends who happen to have kids. I felt like telling them the truth of how much sleep I was getting would be like a slap in the face, especially after they would tell me how happy they were that their child slept until six (in the morning! ). I have loved every minute of catching up with my family and friends ( except for the lying about the sleeping), so much so I even loved losing at Cranium, loved almost getting blown off the side of Fort Amherst by a rogue gust of wind and I loved having to walk halfway home from downtown in high heeled boots at three in the morning because we could not get a cab. In fact I have loved every Christmas this decade and am completely shocked that it’s going to be 2010, It seems like only yesterday we were all gathered for the millennium celebrations in St John’s harbour. So here’s to a new year, to peace, joy, love and hope and maybe if we are really lucky a guilt free recipe for green bean casserole.
There is something about traveling during the holidays that launches a pure panic in me. Any other time of the year the stress threshold of flying is manageable, but get close to Christmas and all of a sudden walking into the airport feels like waltzing into the eye of a storm. I have been in a self inflicted tailspin all day, trying to cram everything I said I was going to do over the last three months into just a few hours and it turns out I wasn’t the only one. Driving to the airport I had to count to ten over and over again, reminding myself to breathe, as I silently but deafeningly repeated “It really doesn’t matter that I forgot my winter boots, cell phone charger and the present for my secret Santa because I am running late, will probably miss my plane and have to turn around and head back home anyway. I can grab the stuff I forgot just as soon as I rebook my flight. ” At which point all my previous and incredibly scarring experiences of rebooking flights to Newfoundland after Christmas snowstorms came flooding back as did the realization that changing my flight would be as difficult as skating up Signal Hill in the rain. We may be known as the nicest people in the world but Newfoundlanders flying home for Christmas thinking they might be stranded is another story entirely. Not for love nor money would a Newfoundlander ever give up their spot on a flight home, sure the mother from “Home Alone” might be begging for someone to give them her seat so she could get home to her stranded eight year old son about to be set upon by robbers. She could offer her house, her car, her jewellery but I guarantee you she wouldn’t have any takers. So with a very real terror, we drove a lot faster and screamed up to the gate, where miraculously there was no one in front of me in line. Not only that, the bags I thought were overweight were under, I got an isle seat on a full plane, and because my flight was delayed an hour I even had time to go to Swiss Chalet ( talk about a Christmas memory). If I didn’t believe in Santa Claus before, I do now, so, so happy to be home.