I was spending my first Christmas in Canada which was something to look forward to and I hoped would massively increase my chances of a White Christmas, unfortunately it wasn’t to be but there was snow on the mountains at least.
Spending Christmas abroad is not something that is foreign to me as this is in fact Christmas on my fourth continent (2 without family in Australia for sailing and 1 in both Mauritius and France with family). That being said I definitely miss Isle of Wight Christmas and all the traditions. Its hard to beat home Christmas dinner and curling up with the dogs in front of a big fire to watch the Snowman (a film people in Canada need educating about!).
I was very lucky this year that Liam and Laura invited me to join and Liam’s uni mates who were visiting for a Christmas ski trip, this included my friends Joe and Alix. If you can’t spend Christmas with family it is essential to find friends to spend it with as I did one Christmas alone in Sydney and while at the time it was useful to prepare for the Sydney Hobart it’s a little sad.
I joined them on Christmas Eve once I had finished work and a special Christmas Eve FTP test. Its a really great group and they were very welcoming with plenty of drinks.
After dinner, Laura’s chili, and plenty more drinks we eventually decided to go to sing some carols. We found a church that had a service at 9 and it was a struggle to get everyone even if not everyone lasted to the end!
It wasn’t quite the carol service we had in mind as there were limited carols, none of the classics and did involve communion. It was an experience, which is what living abroad is about, and good to get out the house for some fresh air and a walk.
I crashed on their sofa which I had planned so had everything I needed but was woken up as people started to do some last minute wrapping and the cooking started.
Most of Christmas Day seemed to be a cooking exercise. It started with breakfast which involved the slowest cooked scrambled egg ever, I’m pretty sure it took over an hour and constant attention. While it was very good I’m not sure it balanced out with the man hours it had received.
Post breakfast we had a brief hiatus from cooking to do presents. The group had done Secret Santa and Liam and Laura had very kindly got me something as they didnt want me to be left out, but slightly awkwardly my family had done an excellent job of sending me presents and so I ended up having the most. I got some lovely photos of Willow, who I miss, and a book to help me catch fish and then a book to help me cook them! The challenge for 2019!
Next up was lunch/dinner. My main contribution was with veg prep, definitely lost my onion dicing competition with Liam, but saved my area of expertise for last with doing the carving. However, hats off to the cooking team headed by Punter and Laura, with numerous sous chefs, who did a seriously impressive job of producing an obscene amount of food. Most people had some heavy involvement with certain dishes and most things were ready on time.
The whole process went off pretty smoothly although there were a few dramas. Joe overfilled the cheesy leeks, which everyone knew, but persevered and there was little surprise when the kitchen downstairs was full of smoke and the alarm went off. This was bettered later when there was an actual fire in the downstairs kitchen. I’m not sure exactly what caught fire or who was to blame but you know its serious when Kai pops his head up and goes “Joe we need you downstairs now, serious situation”. Joe then runs downstairs and all you hear is “Oh God”. But the house is still standing.
I think we had over catered by about 30 people. We barely even touched the sides of all the food we prepared and the parsnips and most the potatoes were left cooking as they weren’t quite ready. No one had room for seconds or pudding so there is a lot of cold food for their skiing trip!
It was so nice to be able to sit around a table with some good friends and eat ourselves in to a stupor. It took quite a long time before any of us could move and a hysterical game of Mafia hosted by Laura who is a natural narrator but might need some clarification on the rules!
We finally made it to the living room where we played a couple more games, the cereal box game (5/11 people completed it) and the hat game, our team did not excel.
By this point everyone was pretty knackered and after talk of a film I decided to take myself home and collapse before I fell asleep.
It was such a fun first Canadian Christmas and was glad I managed to speak to the family, but they need to up their game as I spoke to and Joe and his family and got a special dance from them!!
I think next year though I will try and make it back to the Isle of Wight as Willow needs her Christmas hugs!