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.

Our singalong before supper at our friends' beautiful log home. Near North Gower, Ontario
Singing before supper. The annual hockey gang party at our friend’s beautiful log home.
Girls' dress up night. Dinner for eight. Barrhaven, Ontario
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.

Of course experience teaches us that there are many worse fates than not being home on Christmas. Obviously. There are those who are experiencing their first holiday season since losing a family member. Like my friend about whom I wrote a couple of posts ago. And of course there are those many, many people caught in tragic circumstances around the world, with no home at all… anymore.

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.


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36 thoughts on “Home for the Holidays”

  1. Your last paragraph brought out the welled-up eyes, Susan. My dad's family lived in Sussex and when I was a child money was tight, travel prohibitively expensive and there wasn't enough time off work for trips anyway. So as a family growing up, we always had Christmas at home on our island. But every year our Christmas card from my paternal Nan and Granddad would say "from our home to yours". Your post brought back instant tear-jerking memories. Thank you.
    Wishing you a lovely Christmas with your family.

    1. How easily the tears spring up this time of year, eh? I was welling up as I typed that part about my stepdad waiting for us at the airport. Hope you also have a great holiday, Mary.
      P.S. What island would that be? Just curious.

  2. It was beautiful and emotional post,Susan!
    I wish a very Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    1. Thank you, Dottoressa. Same to you.
      P.S. I found both of your comments in my "spam" folder this morning. Not sure why that is. When you try to comment is there a box that you have to check to "prove you're not a robot?" I will investigate further to see what might be happening.

    2. Yes,it is lately. Thank you for your care
      There was no problem with proving that I'm human :-):-),before ,or I was not asked at all. It started couple of weeks ago here and at Mater and Hostess (where I could comment only by mobile). Maybe it is some sort of Grammar Police 🙂
      Have a safe journey-we have ice on roads and pavements today

    3. Hi Dottoressa …I hope Sue doesn't mind me commenting here! Just want to wish you and your family a very happy and relaxing Christmas.

    4. Rosie,thank you so much 🙂
      I wish you and your dearest Merry Christmas and wonderful holidays,too!
      Your pre-Christmas champagne,coctails and dinner with your daughter (in my case son)-it is my favourite pleasure and best Christmas gift!

    5. I agree Dottoressa. ..time spent with loved ones is definitely the best gift of all. Having all my children at home for Christmas is something I'm so grateful for.
      I hope you enjoy special times with your son and the rest of your family.

  3. A lovely personal post Sue & the Wes Anderson video was great . You might like this Xmas advert too . Have a safe journey & a wonderful Xmas with the family . Thanks for all the time & effort you put into your posts . I'm off to google tourtieres now . Merry Xmas
    Wendy in York

  4. I remember many a trip home to NS with our three kids in the back seat excited to see Grammy and everyone else. Oh, it was so nice to be home. To laugh with my family, to feel the love, the laid back attitude and friendliness of Maritimers. But after one particularly harrowing drive home, we stopped the Christmas trek home. But, heading home every summer made my heart sing.
    Have a safe trip and a Very Merry Christmas!

    1. There is a stretch of highway between Quebec City and Rivieres de Loup that we dread. One year we passed all kinds of vehicles in the ditch. We'd missed a spate of freezing rain by a half hour or so. So we keep our fingers crossed and our eyes peeled now when we drive that part. Summers in Nova Scotia are even better than Christmas!
      Merry Christmas to you too.

  5. Great post Sue …you've obviously had some lovely festive occasions with your friends. I love the high ceiling in your friends house ..has a ski chalet sort of look to it! I had a lovely lunch …champagne and cocktails with my daughter at the weekend at beautiful hotel in the Cotswolds. Mellow stone ..huge fires, Christmas trees. After lunch we relaxed in front of the fire for hours just chatting. Hubby played Chauffeur ….dropping us off then coming to collect us when we were ready! Perfect! We've also had a couple of weekend get togethers with family who live in the north and the south!
    Have a wonderful Christmas with your mum and a safe and uneventful journey there …take care.

    1. That sounds like a wonderful lunch with your daughter. And how lovely of your husband to drop you off and pick up. Here's hoping our drive home will be uneventful.
      Have a good Christmas, Rosie.

  6. Merry Christmas from downunder, we're expecting a warm one, but one of these years my darling has promised me a white Christmas! Jules

  7. Just delightful, Sue, thanks for sharing. Plus you reminded me of a precious memory of a snowstorm, a Christmas visit, and my dad, the Christmas before he died, all cancer-depleted 105 pounds of him, out pacing the sidewalk outside the house in his slippers and housecoat, my mom fretting at him from inside, but he had to be there watching up the road to welcome us when the bus finally made it up the not-yet-ploughed hill. . . .
    Drive safely, and have such a joyous time with your family — our Christmasses together are numbered, as you know well. We must make the most of the ones we have…xoxo

  8. What a lovely seasonal message! We feel that we had our holiday travel near-miss this weekend – 55 car pile up just one exit AFTER we got off enroute to see grandson in Baltimore. Sad for those who were caught in it, happy we were not.

    Safe travels to you,


  9. Happy Christmas Sue and safe journey. Thanks for all your 2016 posts and look forward to more in the new year. Iris

  10. Ah, I loved this post. And the Wes Anderson video is wonderful. I'm a huge fan…his movies are genius.

    I hope your trip home is wonderful. Winter travel can be so iffy, so here's hoping it's uneventful. Warm holiday wishes!


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