It’s been party central around here lately, folks. Probably the same where you are. Festive pot-luck buffet dinner. Hockey gang party. Girls’ dress-up night; we did a small sit down dinner for eight this year. Good friends, good food, wine, and much laughter. And singing. You might have seen my shaky video of the hockey gang singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram. Shaky because it’s hard to hold the camera steady and laugh at the same time.
|Singing before supper. The annual hockey gang party at our friend’s beautiful log home.|
|Les girls…. some of. Three more of us in the kitchen.|
So now that the partying is over, it’s high time I buckled down and did some work. Aside from choosing party outfits and shopping, I’ve done nothing to get ready for Christmas. Yet. And Hubby and I hit the road on Wednesday. For the long drive home for the holidays.
Maritimers heading home for Christmas is a long-standing tradition. I wonder if that’s because so many of us have, over the generations, left home and moved to Ontario or “out west” for jobs which have always been pretty scarce on the east coast. For years and years, the annual question Maritimers who live away are asked by family and friends is “Are you coming home for Christmas?”
One year back in the early eighties, long before I met Hubby and started teaching, when I worked in cosmetics at Simpson’s on Sparks Street here in Ottawa, my roommate, me, my sister, and two boys we knew from home and who worked in the shoe store next door to Simpson’s were all booked on the same flight home. On Christmas Eve.
We all had to work Christmas Eve, but had permission from our bosses to leave early, in time to make our early evening flight. I remember Debbie, my roommate, and I packed and lugged our suitcases on the bus to work that morning. My sister would meet us at my work and drive us all to the airport. Then it started to snow. Really snow. And all day we worried. And called each other, and the airport. By noon the storm was so bad that our flight to Montreal had been cancelled. If we could get to Montreal (two hours away) we could still pick up our flight to Fredericton. Fat chance of that. Then while we fretted and dithered, the flight from Ottawa to Montreal was reinstated. Phew.
By 4:00 pm Debbie and I waited impatiently at the back door of Simpson’s for my sister. She was late. It was still snowing heavily. The roads were terrible. Downtown hadn’t seen a plow for hours it seemed. Carolyn’s tiny car bumped and slewed through the ruts made by other vehicles all the way to the airport. We worried we’d never make it. But we did. The flight to Montreal would be late leaving, but was still flying, so we were happy. And in Montreal our ongoing flight was delayed. Twice. I think we finally took off around ten o’clock. But, better late than not at all. Hopefully, we’d still be home by Christmas.
And as I’m sure you’ve guessed, we were. When we finally landed at the small airport in Fredericton it was close to midnight. There was much laughter and high spirits among the passengers. And our friend Mark who was a great joker and who had a window seat, looked out onto the runway and said to me: “Wow. Look Susan, Santa himself has come to meet us.” Ha. Very funny Mark.
But as it transpired, Mark was not joking. When we stumbled down the steps onto the tarmac, there was Santa. Red suit, white beard, chuckling and shaking everyone’s hand. “Welcome home, folks. Merry Christmas.” And inside the airport in the arrival lounge, my stepfather, who’d been there for god knows how long, patiently waiting for us.
Ah. That’s one of my favourite Christmas memories.
I know, as a travel horror story, this one doesn’t have much in the way of drama. I’ve been on much longer, more stressful flights many times since. In particular Hubby’s and my convoluted and emotional journey home from a tiny island north of Broome, in Australia, when my stepfather died in 2008. But, back in 1981, as a recently transplanted Maritimer, newly trying my wings away from home, I don’t think I could have imagined, at the time, a fate worse than NOT getting home for the holidays. For Christmas.
And on that theme, have a look at this lovely, quirky video by Wes Anderson, starring Adrian Brody.
Hubby and I don’t go home for the holidays every year. And I’m grateful that we can make the trip this year. Grateful for family that we’ll spend it with. And grateful for all the years, and all the Christmases, spent with family and friends who are no longer with us. We’ll be thinking of them. And no doubt swapping stories about them. And raising a glass to them, I imagine.
Now I really must go. I’ve baking to do. Tourtières do not make themselves, people. And I have to start packing. Depending on the weather we may leave a day early. Because…well… freezing rain… snow… you know, the usual.
I don’t know if I’ll have time to post again before Christmas. So let’s just say our seasons greetings now, okay? From our home to yours. Wherever that is. Whatever holiday you celebrate… I hope it’s wonderful.