I’ve had a series of bad events for the apartment I rent out, so I felt that I wanted to show some appreciation for my property manager, who has had to do a LOT more work than usual, and send apologies to the tenants, who are new and have had to put up with works and repairs ever since they moved in.
As I was preparing the cards to go with the wine, I had a flashback to the Christmas Booze Delivery Run that I used to do with my Dad when I was a kid, maybe ten years old? I can never remember my exact age in memories from that time. I had Christmas holidays from school, and would hang out at my Dad’s office in Vancouver’s downtown and pretend to help out.
But this task was really fun. Dad would order in a dozen or so bottles of alcohol. Most were scotch, Crown Royal, a Canadian brand, though there were a few other brands too. Some bottles of rye. The unusual bottles were liqueurs: Kahlua, I’d guess, and maybe Tia Maria. He had shining metallic gift boxes to fit the bottles into, and then they were all neatly labeled with the recipient. Dad had a list in one of his many tiny notebooks, written in his nearly illegible handwriting (it runs in the family), of the person and their preference.
We would then drive around on a day sometime before Christmas: the main destinations were the two banks in Chinatown that Dad did all of his business at, Canada Trust and the Royal Bank of Canada, although I believe gifts were also destined for his lawyer and accountant and a few others. But various bank managers and favourite tellers were the recipients of these gifts.
We probably parked in the alleyways of Vancouver in commercial loading zones. Dad always had many companies registered to him. He explained that they could be used for various reasons but also hinted that they were useful in amusing ways. Debt could be transferred from one company to another; bankruptcy could be declared as a way to avoid debt; various advantages could be accrued by using different companies for different purposes. One advantage was declaring one’s car a commercial vehicle, paying a fee for it, and being able to park in these special places, when no one else could, and it was hard to find parking anywhere in the downtown (and you had to pay for it!). It required a magnetic sign that he would affix to a steel plate and then put in the side window of the back of his station wagon when he needed to park (they were always station wagons).
I remember the warm feeling of knowing we would do something that was appreciated, and we were always greeted with such warmth and cheer. My brother reminds me that because it was the Christmas season, there was excellent snacking along the way, as each person had something open to share with you, especially if you were Joe Quan’s son, or so it seemed.
I also liked that it was a tradition that Dad had created. And it was a lesson: for how to make the world work better. You created good relationships with the people that you needed to work with; you showed them appreciation for their work and the relationship they had with you. It could be seen as calculated, but there was real goodwill behind it. And why not be generous? Why not give gifts? Why not make the wheels turn a little more smoothly? I’m happy to have learned these lessons from my father. I didn’t even realise I was consciously doing it, until I was reminded by the wine boxes of this tradition. Perhaps, it’s one way that I’m keeping his memory alive.