34: The Holiday Diary

34: The Holiday Diary

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas in Canada

The Holiday Diary

The only gift is a portion of thyself.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

It was difficult to leave the hospitality of Victoria. This port town on Vancouver Island has a special charm all its own. The pace is relaxed and the walks are well marked and so welcoming. My husband and I rented a car and headed out to the town of Tofino on the west side of the island. The five-hour drive through winding mountain roads and forests was simply breathtaking.

We arrived at our lodge, situated on a private beach located on the ocean. Our room consisted of a sitting room, a bathroom with a hot tub, a bedroom with a picture window overlooking the beach and ocean, and two fireplaces. There was also a small balcony. Here we would spend our Hanukkah together.

The romantic holiday atmosphere of this setting was close to perfection. Enjoying the cozy warmth inside, we rarely left our suite.

One morning as we were enjoying our breakfast in front of the picture window, I glanced at the fireplace and noticed a small book sitting on the mantle. I reached for it, and when I opened it I discovered it was a diary written by guests over the years who had stayed in this room. I began reading the first entry.

“My name is Jim. My wife and I are searching for the most beautiful places on earth to visit before I die. I have terminal cancer. We love this spot, this view and this room.”

I started to cry. When my husband asked me if I was okay, I began to read the entries out loud to him.

The next writer began with the words, “Before I write about why I am here, I want to comment on what Jim wrote.” By now I had a box of Kleenex next to me and soon needed a second one. Each story was more moving than the last. “We return here for each anniversary.” “We are on our honeymoon.” “He proposed to me in this room.” “We come here to watch storms and to hold one another.”

When I finished reading, my husband asked me, “Are you going to write in the diary?”

“Yes,” I answered with a smile. I gazed at my wonderful husband for a long time. With this man I had found the love for which I had long searched. He was not only my husband but also my best friend with whom I shared everything in my life. Like the others who had come before, I was so happy on our special holiday, in this special place because I shared it with him. And that is what I wrote about.

The romantic intimacy of this room was ours at this moment in time, yet we were connected to all the couples who had been here before us and would come here after us. It felt to me like we were strangers who were all family, because this room and its memories belonged to each of us. Being able to read and share in the messages of this lovely diary could not have been a better holiday gift.

~Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow

Chicago, Illinois

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