Tag: holidays

The Best Weekend Of The Year

Canada Day

I have decided that this is the best weekend of the year.  Better than Halloween, better than Christmas, better than my birthday.  This is the weekend of:

  • School Is Out!
  • The Sun Is Coming!
  • Unexpected Holiday!
  • Endless possibilities abound….!

The first year we lived in Canada, we were horrified at the thought of nearly 10 weeks of summer holiday.  How is anyone expected to manage a full time job and afford childcare for that length of time?  The following year we booked every child into every camp possible, and they went back to school in September more tired than they had been in June.  Now we are seasoned, experienced, and almost Canadian.  It helps that our children are old enough to babysit each other, and had been studying karate long enough to inflict discipline on each other without too much real injury.  The prospect of watching them spend the hot months chilling, cycling, swimming and doing what kids are supposed to do (“Stop that, put it down, you don’t know where it’s been, NOW look what you did to your new sandals…”), is just bliss.

Recently we shared a picture on Facebook.  This is what the start of our summer has been like, but it is still better than Juneuary last year, when we were still wrapped in our polar outfits and snow boots, and at least we are not underwater like parts of Alberta.  Summer

This year the rain has meant that everything I planted in the garden, and many things I did not plant (we have an Accidental Pumpkin patch in the area where I spread my home made compost.  I forgot I had put all 7 Halloween pumpkins with their seeds in the compost last November), are growing, and the time of sitting and appreciating the growth, with a little light harvesting, weeding and reseeding, has arrived.  July and August are generally scorching, and the amount of ground water means I may not have to water the lawn or beds for some time.

The Unexpected Holiday is Canada Day.  You don’t realize until you move from the UK how your body has become attuned to the seasons with their high days and Bank Holidays.  I feel a little wrench at the beginning of May when I realize that it’s Spring Bank Holiday, but I am at work.  But that is completely overwhelmed, when you have been dragging yourself and your children to the end of the school year (“Just 3 more days… just one more teacher gift… just one more awards ceremony… I really don’t care where your planner or lunch box have gone, you only have 2 more days at school…”), when you realize that it’s Canada Day Weekend!  Break out the wine and the barbeque!

And now the endless possibilities… tomorrow I am going to load my grumbling husband and happy dog into the car and drive away.  I will leave a note for the children, which will say “Your parents have run away.  You must solve the clues and find them or your college funds are in jeopardy.”  There will be clues to lead them to the Skytrain, along the waterfront, into Stanley Park and round the seawall.  A real adventure to start the holiday, with a picnic and ice cream at the end.   Later in the holiday we will go berry picking, camping, climb the Stawamish Chief, explore Simon Fraser University campus, shop for new school supplies and clothes and backpacks, paint the shed, create a mural of salmon on the wall of the house that faces the salmon creek – or do none of the above.  The kids will play in the street with other kids, and we’ll dish out freezies, After Bite and bandaids in equal quantities.  Before we know it, we will be back in school and greeting our old friends, and loving the run up to Halloween and Christmas!


You gotta love a Freezie on a hot day!

Outshining the neighbours in your holiday preparations

The house is lit up‘Tis the time of year to..

Put up the Christmas lights.

And here in Vancouver most homes have at least some lights adorning them. I have seen everything from the token string of lights around a convenient bush to the full-on Griswolds from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

In our last house we had someone put the lights up simply because I didn’t have ladders long enough to reach the eaves. And I figured that I was contributing to the local economy and helping a retiree earn a bit extra (while putting his life at risk up the top of a ladder).

Our new home is a rental and our lease forbids us to attach anything to the exterior of the home. I am not sure if that was an expression of “bah humbug” or whether they wanted to protect the neighbours from our poor taste in exterior illumination!

Luckily at the front of the house is a row of 4 foot cedar trees. With some extension cable and piggy backing lines of lights, I have lit up all 12 trees, as well as the bamboo thicket. If the dog stood still I would have illuminated him!

Our neighbours have all entered into the spirit of the thing. The spirit being competition. Across the way there have been more lights added to their display almost every day. The nodding reindeer were a nice touch.

A deflated Santa is a sad sightFurther down the road they’ve gone with the inflatable Santa and snowman. Personally I think that is sad. Especially when the compressor is off and the poor devil is flat. That could be quite damaging for young children. If you’re thinking of going with an inflatable decoration please keep the compressor running throughout the Christmas season. After all Christmas is all about the kids isn’t it?

Happy Thanksgiving

A Turkey
A Turkey – image courtesy of Wikipedia

Turkeys may not be rejoicing at this time of the year. Not only are they the traditional choice for celebrating Canada’s Thanksgiving holiday, but also the massive recall of E-Coli infected beef has taken many alternative choices off the menu.

I am sure that Canadians will find a way to enjoy the holiday – after all it is about gathering together with family and friends and the feasting is secondary. No really!

When we first came to Canada the whole idea of Thanksgiving was quite foreign to us. In the UK the nearest equivalent is Christmas dinner (where the turkey features too). So over the years we have failed to develop a tradition. Each year we celebrate by eating whatever we want. That has included eating pizza, Mexican, curry and one dreadful year – tofurky!

However you are celebrating this harvest festival, we wish you and your family an enjoyable time.


Top Five Christmas Attractions in B.C.

Christmas Trees in Dundarave, West Vancouver
Christmas tree display in West Vancouver

In no particular order, I have set out five Christmas (aka Holiday) attractions if you’re visiting British Columbia this festive season.

Bright Nights in Stanley Park

This is a very popular attraction in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. Enjoy the train ride through the forest decorated with two million twinkling lights, and see the animated displays, listen to holiday sounds as you enjoy hot chocolate, fresh popcorn and roasted chestnuts.

The Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain

Meeting Santa on top of Grouse Mountain is a highlight of many a kids Christmas. Add the chance to ice skate and meet Santa’s reindeer and you have a wonderful experience.

Magic of Christmas at Butchart Gardens, Victoria

These beautiful gardens are transformed with thousands of lights and Christmas displays. The outdoor skating rink is another attraction at this time of year.

Van Dusen Festival of Lights

One of Vancouver’s best gardens hosts this festival of lights. Santa is there, of course, but also the elves and a ginger bread walk. Lots to eat and enjoy.

Vancouver Christmas Market

An outdoor market, with a traditional German theme. Wander around and enjoy the displays of lights, ornaments, gifts and food.

Other attractions

I have not mentioned all the great outdoor activities that continue throughout the winter. Whistler, Big White, Mount Washington, and all our other ski resorts are great ways to spend the holiday season. Many people love to go skiing on Christmas Day!

Five things Halloween tells us about life in Canada?

Is Halloween scary?
Is Halloween scary?

Halloween is one of the major events of the year in Canada. What are the five things that Halloween tells us about life in Canada?

1. Canadians love kids

Halloween is for the kids. Trick or treating happens on Halloween and all the little kids dress up and go around in groups, with a watchful parent or two, and knock on all the neighbourhood doors. It is a chance for everyone to admire just how cute the kids are and hand out some candy.

2. It’s good to be good neighbours

Trick or treating would not work if neighbours weren’t good neighbours. Knocking on the door and being sent away empty handed just doesn’t happen. Instead we all stock up on candy and have it ready for the hordes of cute, little kids that we’re expecting.

3. Canadians have a sense of fun

Wander around just about any neighbourhood at this time of the year and you will see extravagantly decorated homes. They have elaborate scenes set out on the lawn, with gravestones, ghostly figures, and bloody bodies. And all of this is to delight and entertain the local kids and adults.

4. Canadians are generous

These decorated front yard scenes are most often accompanied by a charity donation box. At great effort, and some expense, these householders have set their ghoulish imagination to work for a local charity.

5. Canadians are inclusive

It was a shock to me on my first Halloween in Canada to see adults in shops and offices dressed up in Halloween costumes. Even adults want to join in. It doesn’t matter what kind of costume it is – it doesn’t have to be scary – it’s just a chance for everyone to join in the fun.

Sinking my teeth into Halloween
Sinking my teeth into Halloween

Now I really look forward to Halloween. I haven’t decided what costume to wear, but at least I have the candy ready!

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