Winter & the Festive Season

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The cathedral in the morning winter sun really is something else.

It’s that time of year again when there’s a Christmas tree in every front window, lights on all the houses and the temperatures a balmy 12 degrees Celsius…wait, what?!

After a cold start to December (I’m talking temperatures dipping below zero, which is quite cold in these parts), we are now experiencing another mild lead up to Christmas. In fact, that crazy temp I just mentioned is the forecast for Christmas Day. What the what? I could get away with wearing a light jacket! In fact, I HAVE gone out for a walk in a light jacket recently. Just ridiculous.

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I needed a heavier jacket on this walk, though.

Pete and I have enjoyed doing the usual festive things during December. We have been hosting some geocaching events at pubs (continuing a series of these events from last winter), getting our shopping done early (I am DONE…well, I might get a few extra things…heh heh) and generally just chilling out after busy days at work.

I usually get terribly homesick this time of year, but I have been doing better this time around. True, there are things I definitely miss (Stanley Park, gah!), but we are creating our own little traditions in this neck of the woods. Pete finally “gets” why I love driving around in search of insanely decked out houses. We will be attending a Christmas Day geocaching event for the third year running (hosted by my mother-in-law). Oh, and we finally got a new Christmas tree and some nerdy ornaments. Behold!

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I think Deadpool needs a Santa beard. Maybe next year.

We also definitely bought a Lego set (the Winter Toy Shop, pictured next to the tree) and we’re hoping to get a few more of these sets in the future. Oh boy, that could get out of control and fast!

Oh 2016, you were definitely rough at times (that’s an understatement!), but overall this year was pretty good to me on a personal level. As always, though, I look forward to ushering in another year in the hope that it will be even better. Optimism ahoy!

Happy Holidays / Merry Christmas / Happy Hanukkah / Joyous Kwanzaa

…and a happy new year, you filthy animals.

New Traditions

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I love Christmas. Yes, even after working in retail over the holiday season for five years, I still love Christmas (fun amongst chaos!). I love the smell of Christmas trees, the decorating of said tree, looking at lights on all the houses and going to Bright Nights at Stanley Park or checking out the Festival of Lights at VanDusen Gardens. These were the traditions that I would take part in with friends and family, but now that I’m away from them all, I have struggled with getting into the spirit of things.

For one, that good ol’ smell of pine is practically non-existent. I’m not sure what happens when the trees are imported from Norway, but they lose that fine scent along the way and it makes me sad. Yes, if I see one of these trees, I will run over and huff it, only to be disappointed. Also, I’m not sure if it’s just the area I live in, but there are absolutely no lights on houses. Okay, that’s harsh–there are, but not to the extent that I have seen many times in my life. I would love to go out on a drive to look at some Christmas decor, but there’s literally nothing. Decorations and lights in the town centers don’t really count for me (even though it’s pretty, especially the shop windows, wowzers). I love seeing the creativity of home owners around this time of year. I’m once again coming to grips with the fact that it’s just not a “thing” in these parts.

And so, I am finding myself coping with homesickness over this stuff, but, over the past few weeks, I have begun to come up with a solution: Start some new traditions!

I think the easiest thing to take part in are the Christmas markets and there are many. I went to the one in Bath last year, but it was too crazy busy for me. I have been to the little market in Cheltenham a few times, but nothing has really caught my eye (well, the turkey sandwich with stuffing certainly did–wait, that caught my nose and taste buds more than anything!). Plus, there were little to no vegetarian options for Brit Boy. Sure, they had sweet crêpes and waffles, but what if he wanted something savoury (which he did)?? No good, Cheltenham Christmas market, no good.

As much as we like to make fun of Gloucester for being the type of place that has little going for it, the Festive Fayre (which, sadly, only lasted a weekend) had over 80 stalls, live music and people dressed in fun Christmassy costumes. There were plenty of veggie options, as evidenced above with delicious savoury pies from Pieminister (we bought three), and lots of local vendors selling their wares, be it edible or not.

Since I am a glutton, I tend to fawn over the food (and eat it, of course!). I may have gotten a custard filled doughnut from these fine folks, mostly because everything else was stupidly huge. Do you see how big those slices of bread pudding are?! And Danish pastries the size of your face? Ah well, it makes my eyes happy to look upon them and my tummy happy to chow down on their deliciousness.

While Vancouver has its own Christmas market, and has put it on for a number of years now, it’s heavily influenced by German-style markets, so to see the Brits do it their own way is fun and interesting. Between myself, Brit Boy and his folks, we walked away with a selection of Glastonbury cheeses, six pies and a massive bulb of smoked garlic (which is currently making our pantry smell glorious). We could have bought more, but, well, we were running low on cash, haha. These markets are dangerous!

Also, on Christmas day, I am attending a geoaching event hosted by Brit Boy’s mum. Who knows–this could be the start of another tradition!

I still really miss the abundance of Christmas lights, though, but until I am back in Canada to celebrate, I will continue to sniff each and every Norwegian fir tree.

photo credit: M J M via photopin cc