a peek inside the fishbowl

14 Nov, 2021

hello holidays

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

I’m trying something new. Here’s an audio version of this blog post.

I am a big fan of treating myself to something delicious when I’m feeling rough around the edges and it was one of those days.

So picture this: I was standing in line at Starbucks. Mark was waiting in the car. I was second or third in line, not tuned into my surroundings at all. I was almost zombie-like, my mind blank, waiting for my turn. I’d been standing there for two or three minutes before I realized that Christmas music was playing overhead. Christmas music? Already? That’s when I looked up, and noticed the red and green cups, the gingerbread on the menu, and all of the holiday merch. Christmas had arrived at Starbucks. I had walked into a franchised Christmas setting and had not even noticed. 

The old, pre-pandemic me would not have been too thrilled about this. After all, it was barely November, too early to get on the Christmas train, right? But something inside me hitched, and shifted, and that Christmas song settled over me like a gentle snowfall.

It was my turn at the counter and the barista asked me for my order. I snapped out of my caffeine-starved reverie and conveyed Mark’s coffee wishes. Then, searching for inspiration, I glanced up at the menu board even though I had gone in there already knowing what unsweetened coffee beverage I wanted. 

Suddenly, tears sprang up in my eyes. They came from nowhere, or maybe they came from somewhere deep down after many months of fear and doubt and feeling out of control.  


The barista, standing patiently behind her plexiglass pandemic partition, waited for my order. I’m not even sure if she even noticed my brief wave of emotion.

“I didn’t know how much I needed Christmas until this very minute,” I said. She laughed quietly, kindly. I felt like she understood where I was coming from. I pulled myself together and placed the other half of my order, my half.  Uncharacteristically, I found myself ordering a caramel brulee latte from their ‘festive flavours’ menu, as well as a big gingerbread cookie to share (although I gave myself the bigger half later). As I walked back to the car I thought, WHO IS THIS teary-eyed, sweet coffee swilling person?

I still don’t know what happened, only that I had a moment. At Starbucks. Sigh. 

In a typical year I am not interested in celebrating the holidays this early, but this is not a typical year. I’m all in, so bring on the glitter, the lights, the gingerbread, and the Christmas music. I’ll try not to tear up when I hear it next time.





8 Responses to "hello holidays"

1 | Brien

November 14th, 2021 at 10:15 pm


In case you missed my comment on SoundCloud, I think the audio version is great. There is something about a human voice that resonates, literally, with the audience.

2 | andrea tomkins

November 15th, 2021 at 8:04 am


Thank you! I think I need practice, but I like the audio format. I might keep it going… we’ll see. :)

3 | Molly

November 15th, 2021 at 6:49 am


Love this.

4 | Sally Dowe Marchand

November 16th, 2021 at 4:41 pm


Oh dear. I am so not there yet. I was making my way hastily through Loblaws the other day and suddenly it dawned on me it was Christmas music playing. I wanted to abandon the cart and flee the store. I just shrugged and made my wash to the cash. Maybe by December 1 ?

5 | peter

November 16th, 2021 at 10:34 pm


Absolutely love the audio version – you are a natural!

6 | Nicole MacPherson

November 17th, 2021 at 6:48 am


Oh, I totally understand. I have found myself tearing up in public places when particular songs come on. I love Christmas music and I rarely think it’s too early!

7 | Sally Dowe Marchand

November 17th, 2021 at 2:19 pm


Oh dear. I am so not there yet. I was making my way hastily through Loblaws the other day and suddenly it dawned on me it was Christmas music playing. I wanted to abandon the cart and flee the store. I just shrugged and made my wash to the cash. Maybe by December 1 ?

8 | sassygirl

November 18th, 2021 at 8:52 am


i like hearing your voice on the browser version.
it’s well done!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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