We shipped our belongings in two lots. I put our car on a train on December 21 and the house movers came on December 22 to take the rest of our belongings. Then, we found ourselves temporarily homeless. It's a funny feeling focusing on the story of Christmas, with the journey to Bethlehem and the story of no room at the inn for Mary and Joseph, while being at the same time temporarily without a home ourselves.
Of course, unlike Mary and Joseph we did find a room at a nearby inn. No stable for us. But as Christmas Eve approached, I found myself increasingly keyless. No more house keys – just the key card for our hotel room. And the car keys I had were for a rental. (And why, oh why, do North American car rental agencies insist on only renting cars with automatic transmission?) Keys are symbols of identity in many ways: the keys to my car; the keys to the place where I live; keys to my place of work. They are tokens of familiarity, of comfort and security. The last keys to let go were the Church keys, which I left on the desk before leaving late on Christmas night. It was the end of an era.
Boxing Day was spent checking out of one hotel, returning the rental car, catching a flight to Edmonton, then checking into another hotel. And the 27th we were able to pick up our keys to our new home. Our new home! We had bought a condo in Edmonton on a one-day real estate shopping blitz in November. Now it's ours, and we have keys again. Even without our furniture (which is still in transit as I write) it already feels like home. We have had some very kind offers of a place to stay until the furniture arrives. But how do I say that it's not that we're ungrateful, or that we don't want to stay with our new friends, but we really want to be in our own place – our first place – even though we're camped out here? People probably think we're mad, and we probably are a bit. I hope people don't think we're being ungrateful or rude, because that isn't the case, at least not intentionally. But there's something about just being together in our new home, getting to know our new neighbourhood. The movers will arrive, and we'll be able to populate our home with our possessions. But for now, we can enjoy the feeling of being homeowners. No more inns for a while.