Saturday, February 6, 2010

Our Canadian Christmas: The [inexact quantity] days of Christmas

Christmas came to us on a variety of days, in a variety of locations, and varied in content with each rendition. The photos in this post aren't in chronological order and don't really form a narrative. For me, Christmas actually encompassed a lot of what we did in the entire two weeks that I was in Canada and covered everything from the eating and drinking to visiting friends and relatives, and witnessing and participating in christmas traditions. Christmas in Australia is a bit different from a cold christmas in the northern hemisphere and a lot of the cultural baggage that comes with the idea of christmas actually makes sense in a place like Canada: snow, snowflakes, making snowmen, deer, sleighs, very warm clothing, big hot meals, stockings, and the tradition of going out to get a tree to put inside the house. It was wonderful to experience my first white christmas knowing that all over the country people dressed as Santa Claus ringing their bells were warm and comfortable rather than sweating themselves into a puddle as they might back home in Australia.

You've got to have a christmas tree. This one was grown in a plantation of some sort and bought at the garden department of the local supermarket. It has been laded with an array of shiny baubles, ribbons, and ornaments, and of course there's an angel perched upon the very top. If I appear more stylish or chic than usual in this photo, it's probably because I am wearing my new Pierre Cardin pyjama pants.

Lynn and Jim check the state of the turkey while I meander around aimlessly with a glass of wine in my hand. For a good christmas you need food and lots of it; special food and lots of good drink. I have to say that I probably used the word "feast" and it's variants more during these two weeks than at any other time in my life. A typical usage might have been something like, "Ah, more feasting. Again.". There really was a good deal of feasting.

Another christmas tradition, the wee drop o' drink and cookies for Santa Claus. These were duly left on the mantle above the fireplace and had disappeared when I woke up the next morning. I suspect that they were consumed by representatives of yuletide tradition, be they Santa Claus or otherwhose.

More important feasting: Andrea and her grandmother, Pody, enjoy a hot drink topped with whipped cream and a couple of home-made cookies (or biscuits, depending on where you come from). Home-made cookies usually taste a lot better than what you can buy in the supermarket.

Fireplaces are also very important at christmas time, especially in Canada and other cold places. This one even has stockings hung upon it.

And more of that critical element, feasting, this time at a proper dinner table. This table is laid with a big white tablecloth, special golden platters, and cracker bonbons - very festive.

I really like this picture despite it being a little bit blurry. Three generations blow out the candles on uncle Dan's birthday cake. One of the many christmases was held to coincide with the celebration of Dan's birthday. This shot is post-cracker-bonbon-pull and Andrea is wearing the party hat from one of the crackers. Birthday cake counts as food and so this shot counts as one more photo included here to celebrate the feasting aspect of christmas.

You've got to have gift-giving too, of course. Andrea tells Jeremy about her gift to him: a sake set from Taiwan.

Dan admires the wonderful geisha costume worn by the puppy. Andrea's family runs an annual Secret Santa/Kris Kringle/Chris Kindle wherein everybody's name goes into a christmas lottery and everyone is allocated one family member for whom they should buy a christmas gift. I think that's a great idea as it deters Christmas gift-giving mania, allowing the focus to remain on other aspects of christmas (such as feasting). This year I drew Joey for whom I bought a puppy costume and an ice-block tray that produces ice-blocks in the shapes of the Titanic and icebergs; great idea but a pretty lame gift.

More gift-giving, this time from Andrea's father Roger. Some things are universal and translate from one side of the globe to the other without impairment. I could replace Canada with Australia and USA with New Zealand and I might as well be having christmas back at home.

Andrea and her grandmother Pody. Another critical element in a goodly christmas is visiting friends and relatives. If you're lucky the visit coincides with a feast and you can experience more of the feasting that I so enjoyed at christmas time.

Andrea's other grandmother Ruth. I was glad to be able to spend some time with both of Andrea's grandmothers while we were in Canada. They are very special to Andrea and I'm glad to know them.

Christmas wouldn't be complete without a compelling reason to stay indoors and the winter cold and snow gets pretty compelling if you stay out in it for very long. This is Roger and Bernie's house and I have always known what I wanted to say about this photo when the time came to write a comment about it: look at the size of that tree! That is a two-storey house.

More visiting (feasting not included in this photo although it was had and enjoyed). Andrea and I stand between Roger and Bernie in their dining room. Roger doesn't always look like that; he had just received this survival suit from Dustin and now they're ready to go ice-fishing together.

Dustin, Andrea's brother; I want to go fishing with him sometime when I get the chance. Perhaps not in winter. I think he's just come back from feasting elsewhere. I only just managed to keep the angel on the tree in the frame of this shot.

More visiting, this time at the Burns' residence. Erin and Andrea catch up with their cousin David. The glass in Erin's hand hints at the feast that was had.

And of the last image of this post is devoted to... feasting. Ahh - christmas.

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