As I'm sure you are all aware, John and I couldn't get any vacation time for Christmas this year, so we crammed as much as we could into the four short days that we had!
We packed all of our stuff on the night of the 23rd. I worked on the 24th until 2 o'clock and as you would expect, it was very quiet as most people are not thinking about their insurance on Christmas Eve.
My friend Sherry, whom I met at work, is a holistic healer and she worked really hard to get me ready for my flight. I hadn't been on a plane in four years so I was very nervous! We did chakra exercises, pressure point massage and homeopathic medicine to help calm me down.
When I got home on Christmas Eve, it was pretty much time to go. First was the subway, down to Union Station. Next was the shuttle bus to take us to the ferry. The ferry took us out to the Toronto Island airport where we caught the plane.
We decided to fly Porter Air because their airport is so much closer to our home. The airport is small and cozy with lots of free snacks and drinks. We were on the plane before long but we had to wait over an hour on the tarmac. They had to keep de-icing the plane because the line for the runway was so long that they kept freezing. Each cycle took about half an hour. At one point I fell asleep. When I woke up about 45 minutes later, I thought we must be halfway to Halifax by now but in fact, we were still on the ground.
Eventually we made it up into the air. The flight was smooth and they served us little boxed lunches that were just adorable. When we made it to Halifax, Erin and Allan were there waiting to take us to Mom's.
When we got to Mom's everyone was happy to see us because it was the first time we'd been home since we left in July. Nannie and Grampie were there as well, I was so glad they came to Halifax to be with us at Christmas.
It was pretty late by the time we got there so we just wrapped a few presents, ate some ham and cheese sandwiches and then we were off to bed.
In the morning we got up around 8:30am. Erin and Allan showed up at 9:00am and we dug into the presents! Everyone got lots of nice things - Nannie's stocking was obscene it was so big! I hand made a lot of the gifts I gave this year and I think everyone liked them.
Once the dust had settled a bit, Grampie made breakfast while the rest of us got dressed and John helped Mom get the turkey in the oven. Christmas breakfast is my favorite breakfast of the year. Nobody fries an egg like Grampie. I don't know what he does but they are consistently the most amazing fried eggs I have ever eaten.
From there we made the trek out to Lake Echo to visit Dad's family. That was when I first noticed that it was a green Christmas. Apparently Halifax had snow earlier that week but there was very little on the ground for Christmas day.
At Dad's house we opened more presents and drank apple cider. Dad gave us the tour of the renovations he did to the basement. He put in room dividers that have built in bookshelves which I thought was pretty clever! I also got to see Erin's motorcycle, hiding in the garage. We drove back in to town with Dad to pick up Robbie at his dad's house. There was a bit of a Christmas mix-up as we had gotten him the same gift that his dad did. Luckily, video games are easy to exchange.
It wasn't long before we had to leave to return to Mom's house for dinner. When we walked in we could already smell the turkey! Heavenly. Mom's friend Steven had arrived while we were gone, so we did a round of introductions. We all took rounds in the kitchen helping out with the cooking, retreating to the living room to play with our new stuff when the kitchen got too crowded.
Dinner turned out wonderful. John did a great job with the turkey, Steven whipped the potatoes, Mom makes a mean gravy and I thoroughly botched the cheese sauce. John said he enjoyed the 'flavour lumps' in it.
After that we were so full that my memory of the rest of the evening is a hazy sort of fog. I call that a successful Christmas!
Saturday was Boxing Day so nothing was open. So what is there to on a freezing cold December day in Halifax? Well, in John's opinion it was a great day to hop into the Atlantic ocean!
There had been a bit of a mix-up when Allan rented scuba diving gear for John so it would be ready when he got there, so instead of a nice warm dry suit, John ended up with a wetsuit. I think most people would have been detered by this, but not John! No, instead he practiced all day Christmas by not wearing a coat so that he would be ready to really freeze on Boxing Day. He tells me he was in the ocean for over half an hour and when he got out, he couldn't feel anything below his knees and he was shaking so hard that it was difficult to get out of his suit. He's crazy, but I love him.
Meanwhile at Mom's house, we had a lazy morning. Nannie and Grampie headed back to Moncton. Erin came over around noon and we had the Boxing Day shopping itch, but nothing was open! So we decided to hit up Shoppers Drug Mart for discount chocolates and wrapping paper. It was my first time walking around the city since I'd been home so I was happy to get out of the condo.
We had so much fun! It was one my favorite moments from the trip. Mom got an amazing deal on an Elizabeth Arden gift set of her favorite perfume and scented lotions and soaps. Plus they had a huge Elizabeth Arden makeup set available for purchase on purchase. It got a little crazy after that but I walked out with a La Roche Posay gift set that included a full size bottle of my regular moisturizer, an Elizabeth Arden lip gloss, a box of Quality Street, a shiny pink wallet and some blue Christmas gift tags.
We stopped for Tim's on the way home and when we got back John was still out (he had gone to visit his grandmother after diving) so we all settled around the table and played with Mom's new makeup. The kit had two blushes, at least a dozen eyeshadows, two eyeliners, two lip liners, a mascara, three lipsticks, lipglosses, makeup brushes and I can't remember what else. We tried out all of it.
Erin and I put together the Christmas puzzle like we do every year. This year we finished it in 51 minutes, three minutes slower than last year.
When the boys got home, the four of us headed out to Chabaa Thai for the best mussaman curry in the city. I had forgotten how delicious it is, absolutely to die for and the pad Thai was just as good! I have yet to find Thai food that good in Toronto (although I expect that I just don't know where to look).
On Sunday the 27th, Erin was over at the crack of dawn. I stumbled out to the car in my half-asleep stupor and we made our annual pilgrimage to the Lush Boxing Day Sale at the MicMac Mall. When we got there I couldn't believe I almost hadn't wanted to bother this year. I love that sale! All of the holiday stuff and the soap was buy 1, get 2 free. I got two bottles of Snow Fairy, my favorite shower gel, 3 containers of shower jellies (champagne snow showers and strawberry santa), three emotibombs and three sugar scrubs. Using the gift card from I got from CJ and Robbie, I was out of pocket about $12. Awesome! Erin went for completely different stuff and instead got huge chunks of soap, bath bombs and bubble bars.
We wandered around the mall for a bit after that. Erin picked up a blouse at Eclipse, but nothing else really caught our attention so we left and headed to Dartmouth Crossing. The first stop was Michaels for discount yarn. We don't have a Michaels in Toronto so I was really excited to go. I got enough yarn to make a handbag, 6 dishcloths, a pair of gloves and two pairs of socks for John. I know, I'm such a nerd. Should keep me busy for most of the winter though!
We puttered around the electronics stores after that, Futureshop and Bestbuy, but all of the good stuff was gone (I think they had been open since 6am). We headed home after that, pleased with our discount hauls. The crowds started picking up when we left, I think we were home before 1pm.
For dinner, the four of us headed to Sushi Nami, another restaurant that John and I had wanted to visit while we were home. Honestly, the food was disappointing. The honey avocado salad and the grilled eggplant were lacking the sweetness I was looking forward to, the yam tempura was missing its crunch and John said his mackeral wasn't cut properly. We are choosing to give them the benefit of the doubt though, that maybe their regular chef was off for the holidays. I hope so, anyway. We will go back and give them another chance next time we are down.
Next we headed to our friend Cliff's apartment for a game of Rock Band before our brewery tour. Cliff used to be our across-the-hall neighbour and I have to say it felt very strange to walk into our old building and even back to our old floor knowing that we don't live there anymore.
We weren't there for long before it was time to walk up to the brewery. We were a few minutes late so there were already lots of people there by the time we got there. We had a great turnout, probably around 25 people or more. Luckily I brought a lot of snacks! Probably about 50 or 60 cookies, and Alisha brought a huge tub of homemade amaretto almond popcorn. There was enough time that I got to talk to almost everyone there for at least a few minutes. Not enough time to really get caught up with everyone though, we need a longer visit for that.
Afterwards we went back to Cliff and Justin's place for more Rock Band. I sang until I was hoarse. We stayed pretty late after that (I think I fell asleep while John stayed up talking with the guys) and then cabbed it home. I had a great night.
We slept in the next morning, then woke up at started packing. It was time to leave! Erin and Allan came over and picked us up and we headed for the airport, stopping for one last Haligonian treat along the way: donair sub for John and garlic fingers for me from Basha's. We ate them at the airport after we checked our luggage. They were so good!
We were expecting long lines because of the security threats over Christmas that everyone was talking about but there were really no lines at all. Everything ran smooth, the plane was on time and we were back in Toronto before we knew it!
We took all the modes of transportation in reverse this time: car, plane, boat, bus, train, finally arriving at our apartment. We only stopped for a couple of minutes before heading back out again. I wanted to go to the Futureshop here to look for a deal on external hard drives that had been sold out in Halifax (it was sold out here too but I was able to order it online, so it all worked out) and then we crossed the street to get some tacos for supper.
It was cold as we walked there but when we actually started to eat, it turned into a full fledged blizzard! We put our hoods up and our heads down headed out ducking into the nearest subway entrance as soon as we could. We took the underground tunnels back from there. The convenience of it made me happy to be back in Toronto.
When we got home this time we settled in for real. We made hot drinks, curled up on the couch and opened our presents from each other. It was really nice.
The next day, it was back to work! We were only open until 5pm though so I was back home early. John's brother Allan and his friend Amanda arrived shortly after. John made supper, after which we exchanged gifts as well as opening a few gifts from Santa that had mysteriously appeared under the tree. Santa had left us some pretty cool toys; remote controlled cars that drive on the wall and a Zhuzhu pet.
The next morning I felt awful. I had been getting sick for about two days at this point and I was just a wreck that morning. I kept waking up in the night because I couldn't breathe, I was so stuffed up, and I felt like there was a battle waging war inside me causing me to alternate between a fever and chills.
I was determined to go to work though because earlier I had asked for these days as vacation and I know how bad it looks to ask for vacation, have it refused and then call in sick those same days. Somehow I managed to pull it together but I only made it through half a day before giving in and going home sick. I spent the afternoon curled up in bed with a box of Kleenex and a bag of Halls Centres (they are so wonderful) and tried to sleep. In the evening, Allan cooked us dinner so I ventured out to the couch and stayed there until it was time to go to bed.
Today is New Years Eve and I'm feeling a little better although I'm still not back to my full self. I'm not sure what we're up to tonight but we have enough liquor to supply an army, so I'm sure we'll think of something. We've been invited to a party but I'm not sure I feel well enough to venture out. We'll see. I'll save it for the next post.