We returned a few days ago from our 3 week Christmas break to Canada. Thankfully unlike last year, our journeys on both ends were uneventful. Well, uneventful except for the fact that my fear of flying phobia which had pretty much resolved about 12 years ago is back with a vengeance.
I'm chalking it up to our 'turn-around from nearly landing in Victoria last year and hightailing back to Calgary before we run out of fuel' flight last year. Stupid really, I am generally a glass half-full kind of person but in the case of air travel, not so much. You know how some people like to live their lives on the edge by parachuting or climbing frozen icefalls? I literally feel like that getting on an airplane, sigh....a necessary means to an end.
The Tawtel women and our famous Crantinis
Anyway, on to the good stuff. We were all healthy and arrived in Victoria via Vancouver via Frankfurt, 9 hours jet lagged and a mere 2 hours late but otherwise in great form. The next 2 weeks passed in a blur of wonderful family meals, lots of games (Au Mille and Balderdash being our favorites), movies, girls nights, boys nights, swimming, beach walking and generally revelling in the mild west coast island air and each other.
One particular highlight was a family hike we did through an old growth forest on Mount Douglas. We were a little ways up the trail when a friendly Golden Retriever assaulted us with affection. His owner arrived shortly thereafter, whereupon I coolly sputtered, gasped, fell over my words, and finally spat out memorably "I know you, you're Silken Laumann". OK, well you have to be an Olympics fanatic and a proud Canadian to understand the significance of the moment but trust me, it was significant!
You also have to be a pretty tight family to live 9 people in a house (a pretty big house but still....9 people!), still love each other 14 days later, and cry upon bidding our farewells. J became particularly attached to the clan this year and was loathe to leave. He kept begging us to stay a little longer "but I'm not going to see my cousins for suuuuuuch a long time" he moaned. This is one kid who really gets the value of family and good friends, and who blossoms under the attention and love of his teenage cousins.
We flew on to Calgary to spend the weekend with our great friends Jen and Jeff and their 2 kids. J and Nate have been pals since birth. We spent a quintessential Alberta weekend; tobagganing under the brilliant blue western sky, dining on Alberta beef, driving on notoriously icy Calgary roads but most importantly - reconnecting with dear friends.
Some good old Canadian tobagganing
Hanging with Jeff and Jen
C2 flew back to Geneva at the end of the weekend and J and I drove our rental car to my mum's apartment to spend the remainder of the week with her and my clutch of Calgary girlfriends. J and their boys have been friends since they were babies. We spent several intense days together and then it was done. The night prior to returning home, J was inconsolable about leaving his Grandma, his 'fabily', his friends, and Tim Horton's (in that order). I love his loyalty and the breadth of his love; really he is such a unique individual for a 6-year old.
The guys have been friends since they were babies
A foot of snow greeted us upon arrival in Geneva which thrilled J. It's great returning to Canada as often as we do but it's good to come home too. We have many things to look forward to this year. J starting piano lessons, my wonderful bi-monthly writers group 'The Birks', spending time with the really terrific band of international wanderers we are honoured to call friends, and "profitez'ing" from every chance to explore this place we are blessed to call home.