And so this was Christmas.

Two days following our first post-Katrina Christmas in our home in New Orleans. You might think its not such a big deal, but we feel blessed and fortunate to have a home in New Orleans in which we can celebrate Christmas.

Some of my family came down from Canada. I tried to prepare them for what they would see when they arrived. Its almost 4 months since the storm, but life here is far, far, far from normal. The city is still a mess in spite of all the efforts made to clean up. People start in their yards and then spread out in their efforts working to help on their street and then in the surrounding neighbourhood. Its definitely a community effort.

My family made comments regarding the lack of working stoplights, the absence of people in certain areas, the military vehicles, and the minor inconveniences. These were all things for which I tried to prepare them but I don’t think anything really can do that. Certainly nothing could prepare them for what they saw when we went on our ‘Katrina Tours’ around the city. I felt it important to show them what has happened so that they could fully understand the extent of the damage.

We toured Lakeview and Lakewood South. We also drove around mid-City, Old Metairie, as well as parts of the Central Business District. Their jaws were dropped on the floor. It was the first time I had driven around with people who weren’t from here who were seeing the results of the storm and levee breaks for the first time. It was quite an experience for me. My Mom cried on our first tour through Old Metairie. She couldn’t get over the damage. She cried for the families who were displaced. My Dad and his wife were also awestruck. They commented on a couple of neighbourhoods saying that they didn’t look like they were nice neighbourhoods to begin with. I told them that the streets were basically much like our streets before the storm – clean, well-kept homes with nicely landscaped yards.

This morning my family left to go back to Canada. It was sad to say goodbye to them as I’ll miss not having them here. We had a wonderful visit. Most of all, I think I was saddened by the fact that Christmas is over and the brief reprieve we had from the craziness that is life in New Orleans has ended. Now we are back to ‘normal’ and have nothing to look forward to in the near future. I felt an overwhelming sadness this morning that brought me to tears as I realized that the only bit of normalcy that we have at the moment is that which exists in our home.