This past week has been the best week of the year I think. In the past some Christmas weeks have been too stressful and too much of a headache. Not this time. For some reason, everything was just right and spending so much time with people was just perfect.
It was a week ago today that I arrived in Sudbury to catch some much anticipated Rest and Relaxation at Jenn and Scott’s place in the Valley. Denise and Don had arrived from Westree. Nathan and Tyler were being the best grandsons I can imagine and I was ready to unwind. I was able to enjoy Jennifer’s latest cooking effort of Chicken Kiev which she mastered. Well, that was just the beginning of a week long bash of really good food, delicious desserts, really great company and a few fine drinks. It wasn’t long after arriving at Jenn’s that we got a call from Neil to let us know he would be on the overnight bus from Toronto after flying in from Vancouver. As good as that news was, we also discovered that Victoria would be arriving on the same overnight bus. Cool. So we all went off to bed that night looking forward to more company in the morning. Don and Denise were up bright and early to get to the bus station and before long Neil and Vic had arrived for Christmas. I was just pleased to see Jennifer and Neil again. I thank God I am blessed with two wonderful children. So that Friday was just perfect. Jennifer went all “Martha Stewart” again cooking up a fabulous breakfast for everyone. Neil slipped off to grab a snooze but he was up again by noon so we could do some father-son shopping. That was good and before long we were in a pub enjoying brewski’s and having a late lunch. We even managed to get some shopping done before heading “home” to Chez Alexander. I should mention that Nathan and Tyler were perfect hosts. Nathan let me stay in his room while Neil stayed in Tyler’s room. The boys were able to sleep in the “fort” they created with furniture in sleeping bags in the rec room. And as you can see in the photo, Neil enjoyed seeing Buddy again and said he was amazed at how big Buddy has become. On Christmas Eve, the boys and I carried on what might now be a tradition. We headed off to Perkins to for pancakes, just like last year. Neil came along and so did Victoria. It was great. We all ordered huge breakfasts and really mucked out. Then we went shopping on Christmas Eve! Which every man knows is the best day of the year for shopping. We walked and shopped and shopped and walked so much!!!
I was having fun except for the fact I had twisted my knee the night before playing a bit of ball hockey with the boys. So I was limping a bit, but still having too much fun to complain.
I remember giving Vic, Tyler and Nathan some spending money so they could run off by themselves. And then they did something amazing. They came back with a fabulous photo of themselves with Santa. I nearly had tears in my eyes. I have never seen them look as perfect as they did in that photo.
I should mention that going back to the Valley was excellent. Up until this point, it looked like it was going to be a green Christmas in Sudbury. But then it started snowing. Nice big fat fluffy snowflakes were coming down and covering everything.
Back at the house it was time to wrap gifts and munch a bit. I should mention that Denise created a fabulous seafood chowder and cheese tea biscuits that are too good to describe. I won’t waste words. I wolfed down four biscuits and two bowls of chowder. As the evening wore on, it was nice to sit back and enjoy the conversation. I got such a kick out of seeing Jennifer playing the perfect hostess. You have to remember it was only two years ago that Jenn was still at the cancer centre and they let her out with a two-day pass for Christmas. She was in the wheelchair then and wearing a bandana because she had no hair after her chemo treatments. What a change.
By the way, Jennifer gets a bit stressed about the fact that she had another birthday just a few weeks ago…I would never give away her age, but being a normal woman, Jennifer frets about it. The best part is that she was at the liquor store recently and the clerk carded her! Yup, she got asked for her I.D. How nice was that? Jenn tells the story with a big smile. And she’s no baldie anymore. Her hair is long and wavy and she looks as fabulous as the day she was married.
At 10:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, I was able to declare that Christmas had arrived in Canada (in Newfoundland right!). That was the occasion I needed to open up the bottle of single malt whisky I brought back from the Isle of Skye in August. We kept it at Jenn’s place so I wouldn’t be tempted to open it before then. It was a litre of Talisker. It’s the only whisky made on Skye. It was warm and wonderful and so very, very, very smooth.
Anyway, Christmas morning was normal. Tyler was first up the stairs from the rec room. I could hear his feet thumping up the stairs and into the living room. So I got up and sure enough he and Nathan and Vic were all standing by the tree with big smiles. Yes, Santa remembered them. But it was 7:00 a.m. and still dark, so I told the kids we had to wait. Each year I snap a photo of the children by the tree. This year, Victoria declined. She’s a teenager now and her hair wasn’t quite right! Once we got the coffee on and cracked open the Bailey’s, the adults were ready and so it went smoothly and with great fun and joy. I was amazed at the wealth we Canadians all enjoy and I am pleased and thankful we are all so blessed. CHRISTMAS MORNING!Later, the children and I enjoyed some chocolate cake for breakfast!
Christmas Day turned out to be nicer than expected. The snow kept falling and the temperature was mild. Scott headed out with a few friends for a special tour of the Xstrata copper smelter, since there was a minimum staff on. The lucky guys got to see them pouring a million dollars worth of molten nickel from the huge ladle crane. The ladle is about the size of a house. I didn’t mention that in Timmins you can pour a million bucks worth of molten gold into something the size of a breadpan!
Scottie brought home his good friend Ritchie, who always shows up on Christmas. And Ritchie brought along fishing pal Howard, a genuine Bay Street lawyer. Howard was amazed to get such a warm welcome, but the best part was that he was a cool guy and so the warm welcome wasn’t wasted!
Before long we had a nice ball hockey game going in the backyard rink with all the men and the boys. My twisted knee ached, but the whisky was soothing and warm, and took my mind off the pain. I was goalie and took a few hard shots, but am happy to say I stopped a few hard shots. And yes, I actually have the bruises to prove it. It was a good game until poor Tyler took a slapshot in the face. He went down. We thought he was faking, but then realized he wasn’t. We put the sticks away and after a few hugs and atta-boys, Tyler was okay. He has a nice little scar near his eye to show off to the gang at school.
As the afternoon progressed, we got wind of the wonderful smells from the kitchen where Denise and Jennifer were hard at work creating the perfect Christmas dinner of turkey, potatoes, turnip, stuffing, ham and salads.
Howard and Ritchie didn’t need much coaxing as they agreed to stay for dinner. How nice was that? Vic, Tyler and Nathan got to sit at “the kid’s table” as they ate from the coffee table in the living room. Doesn’t get much more Canadian than that eh?