On Christmas Day we were picked up by Chrl’s dad and so began our second Christmas with my other half’s family. Chrl has an older brother and sister as well as a twin brother. The siblings have Christmas with their respective families and then converge at her parent’s house for Boxing Day and beyond. There are three generations converging on the residence and I am the newest addition to their celebrations.
Traffic on Christmas Day is always light. People are usually home celebrating with their families with no need to leave their houses. If they do leave to go anywhere it is not going to be to go to some store. If they leave to go anywhere it is to go join some friends or family for a great meal. It was a great drive for us on a sunny day. We updated Chrl’s dad on all the happenings that occurred at my parents house during the last few days. When we got to Chrl’s parents house her brother, his wife and her mom were on their way to Burnaby Mountain to do some tobogganing. We told them that we were going to follow as soon as we unloaded our luggage and boxes for shipping. We also had to eat. In the morning we didn’t really have a chance to eat as we were busy loading up my brother for the final time as well as packing ourselves. Chrl spent some time with my sis and I kind of did my thing while they bonded.
As we were eating we got a call from Chrl’sis in law Chelsea asking us where we were. We told her that we were just finishing up. We were quite hungry and we needed to eat before heading out to the mountain. Burnaby Mountain has an university on top of it. When we got there to a spot where a restaurant has a parking lot we could see a great many people enjoying sliding down the hill. The sun was descending towards the horizon. It’s colorful hue was great to admire and we took an opportunity to take some photos. Chrl injured herself a bit in Saskatoon carrying things and I was tired from all of my recent activity we didn’t slide down the hill. The snow was a bit compact and judging from what my future in laws experienced going down the hill I didn’t want to risk myself getting injured. It did look like fun though.
When we got back we ate some more and then began to play some games. Chrl’s family is big on playing all kinds of card and board games. We paired up and began to play in teams against each other and all the banter that goes along with it. It’s kind of fun to do that. It was getting late and it was suggested that we go and visit a Christmas light display near here. It was a good suggestion as Chrl and I were feeling a little house bound lately. I had never been to the particular display before. Even if I did have the time in years past it would have been too far to go for me. Going to experience these lights is something that seems like a tradition for Chrl’s family.
The lights were put up around a little lake at some little park nearby. In the cold and with the snow still abundant on the ground it felt very Christmasey. There were all kinds of shapes made with lights some that moved while others were stationary. These were a non-denominational displays with rain deer the closest to tradition that I could see. There was of course an “O Canada” spelled out in red. With all the different people living here it is the land that holds us together. After walking around the little lake it was time to go back. I didn’t last too long after getting back. The next day was going to be a busy one as more of Chrl’s family was going to show up. Their festivities were going to begin with breakfast.
As kids grow into adulthood they begin to move away. Chrl’s older sister lives on the island and she along with her husband and two kids made the trek to the lower mainland in time for breakfast. Chrl’s twin brother along with his family made it as well as did her other brother with his wife. It was a busy house hold. There were kids everywhere as Chrl’s twin has three little boys. They were a bit subdued I was told becaause they are all suffering with some sort of cold. We had to set up the table and then get ourselves ready to eat. The tradition is to have waffles, pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausages and an assortment of toppings to go along with that. It was a lively meal with all the people that gathered around the table.
Once the meal was finished and things cleaned up it was time to open up more presents. I bought some presents in Poland specifically for Chrl’s parents as requested by her. It’s a good thing I listened because I found the perfect present for Chrl while doing that. She got it when we opened up our presents with my family. Today I was hoping to see how they would react to the book that I was going to give them. It is the same book that I’ve been handing out throughout my journey here as a momento of my travels. Each one has an inscription written specifically for whomever I was intending to give it to. There are four in Poland, four in Canada, one in the U.K. and one with me. There were many presents that were given away and received. I was very happy with all of the warm socks that I got as well as a book on photographing Saskatchewan. Chrl’s mom opened up my gift to them and she looked quite moved by it. It was nice to see that reaction because it was what I hoped for. It took a bit of effort to get the whole project printed and transported over here. Presents are just a small aspect of Christmas the important thing is having all the people together in one space enjoying their time with each other. We were certainly doing that.
For me this was a chance to get to know Chrl’s family and vice versa. Chrl has talked about them and finally meeting them and getting to know them is important to me as it is for her. I liked that we played games together. It allowed us to open up to each other in a way that we wouldn’t of just sitting around. Playing games forces us to have a strategy and this may unvolve influencing our opponents with witty banter in order to get them off their game. A little bit of good natured ribbing goes a long way. It was fun to do that. There was sports on the telley downstairs as the world juniors were playing. I didn’t go there much. I mostly stayed upstairs on the main floor. I enjoyed this time.
Before dinner I organized everyone for a group photo. Chrl told me that they haven’t had one in a long time. It’s rare for all of them to be all together at the same time especially now when everyone is all grown up. Christmas is usually the time when everyone manages to get together. It’s a lot of work as there are a lot of people to feed and house. I am the newest addition to this clan and I tried my hardest to be a good guest. At dinner I tried to eat as much as I could to help reduce the amount of left overs. It was a traditional turkey dinner something that is different from my traditions.
There were many conversations that I can’t recall now. Having everyone sit around the huge table together is nice. We had to call out to each other to pass things around. The tablecloth was drawn on as is tradition in this house. The kids were kept occupied by this activity both big and small. The small kids were kind of sick so they were fairly well behaved as their energy levels were dampened by their condition. Steve, Chrl’s older brother was sore from tobogganing as was his wife Melody. I was just full from all the eating.
This time at Chrl’s wasn’t really wild or crazy. There were a lot of people that I needed to get to know and as the day turned into night and we played some games together this goal was achieved. I wanted to be open to Chrl’s family so that they get to know me at least a little bit. Enough for them to trust me to be the right person for her in their eyes. Enough for them to take me in as one of their own. I was also curious about them and the kind of people they are. How they interact with one another, how they talk to each other, how they behave. I wonder if they were on their best behavior? They probably were but I don’t think it was an act. I think they are really as genuine as they seem. There is a lot of laughter and warmth between all of them. I know there were stresses and strains in the past but they made it past that. They stayed together as a family and they continue to gather together. It was a nice atmosphere to be in. The atmosphere confirmed my suspicion that they are a nice family.
We carried on into the night and then in the morning we gathered again all together for breakfast. Not everyone stayed the night but in the morning everyone gathered for breakfast. The two brothers live close to the parent’s house making it easy to gather. The kids are better off sleeping the night away in their own beds anyway. I was up early before anyone else each day that we stayed here. I don’t know what it is but I like the quiet of the morning. It allowed me the peace and quiet to focus on what I needed to do. Chrl’s dad Abe was always the next one to get up. We said our good mornings to each other and had a cuppa joe. I usually went and said good morning to Chrl serving as a kind of gentle alarm clock. The day after Boxing Day is still a holiday here. Christmas Day fell on Sunday so that means that people would have been short changed on their holidays otherwise.
Traditionally on one of the days members of the family that are from out of town go shopping. I wanted to go along with them as I needed to buy a jacket for the harsh Saskatchewan winter that everyone keeps telling me about. The one that I have now is inadequate for the potential extreme temperatures found there. Boxing Week is usually the time when the best sales are around. It is also a chance to get out of the house as we have been cooped up inside with way too much food. I have started to feel the holiday weight bump as my body begins to retain the extra calories around my waist.
We set off and went to a thrift store first. This I am told is one of the traditions as well. Since one of Chrl’s sister lives in a small town on the island they don’t have access to the same kind of shopping choices as people do in the small city. One never knows what will be found on the racks or on the shelves. If anything it’s fun to check it out for them. I found the place a bit overwhelming and just kind of stood there after a while as everyone browsed the aisles. We went to the mall next. The place was thick with shoppers looking for bargains. Christmas was just a few days ago but the inventory that remains afterwards has to go somewhere. It’s best to discount it so that is a big draw for people. We stopped off at one outdoor place and then went into another checking out their prices. At this second store I found the rack with discounted winter parkas. They were all extra large and thus were discounted heavily. Most places discount their extra larges as they are usually the only ones left from some particular style. I need a medium and as I browsed some more one parka caught my attention. I thought I was going to buy a black jacket but this grey one looked good. It had all the features that I was looking for like the fur lined hoodie, lots of insulation, good pockets and many of them. I tried it on and it fit right and I was beginning to feel warm inside of it once I sipped it all up. I asked Chrl for her opinion modeling it for her in the store. She approved and with the thirty per cent discount the jacket was a good deal. SOLD!
Back at the residence we went back to eating and playing games. I felt like I should continue documenting my exploits so I sat in the living room with Chrl’s mom and sister as they crochet and knitted. We had sporadic conversations but they were mostly discussing their crafts. I relaxed on the comfy couch with a cup of joe. Some of the men were downstairs watching the World Junior Hockey Championships that were playing. Canada is once again on a tear dominating the tournament in hopes of securing the title for themselves. It was a relaxing time for all of us gathered here. Others were in the kitchen around the big table playing games. After sitting for a while in the lounge I joined them and began to play too. The teams were quite competative with each other and the usual friendly arguments surrounding interpretation of the rules crept up at a critical juncture during the game. Eventually everyone began to feel tired and Chrl’s twin and his family left home leaving the rest of us to contemplate hitting the sack. Tomorrow Chrl and I are going to begin our social visits with various people. We need to be rested for what lays ahead.