Christmas: Take two

Christmas time isn’t over yet! We are now Halifax-bound for Christmas #2 at my mom’s place. For those of you who don’t know, my parents split up when I was younger and they are now both married so I’m lucky to say I have 4 fantastic parents that I get to visit during the holidays! Plus let’s not forget that we just spent Christmas #1 with two other great parents in Charlo, NB. Seriously, best Christmas ever!

We hit the road for Halifax on the morning of December 26th. The drive from Charlo to Moncton is about 3 hours, and the drive from Moncton to Halifax is approximately 2.5 hours. We figured we would stop in Moncton for at least an hour so we aimed to leave Charlo by 9AM. As always, we left an hour later than planned, but it all worked out fine. Our stop in Moncton was pretty quick too, we just went home to make some spaghetti and then did a drop-in visit at Jeff & Janice’s place. It was great to see old friends, even though it was just a quick visit.

When we arrived to Halifax, supper was done and all warmed up on the stove. Yum! Of course, we didn’t just barge in and stuff our faces; we were actually polite enough to say hello to the family, sit down and talk for a bit before being served some stew and vegetarian chilli. And no meal would be complete at my mom’s house without having some homemade pie for dessert! And my favorite too: Mémére Boudreau’s Homemade Apple Pie!

OK, now let’s get down to business! Our tradition in Halifax is to open up all our little stocking gifts the night that we arrive, which had almost always been on December 26th now that I think of it. So my brother, Max and I sat down in front of my mother’s enormous Christmas Tree – I just need to take a second to let you all know that she downgraded from 4000 tree lights to 2500 tree lights this year – and she and Steve passed us our stockings filled with goodies and treats. We started unwrapping them at the same time, and tried not to keep opening the same gifts all together. There was a great variety of gifts, including a toothbrush and toothpaste (always appreciated!), deodorant (even though I have a billion already), some amazing hand and body lotion from Lush (YES!), among others. Max even got a batman spatula in his stocking – and his reaction is priceless!! And yes, my mom did get it on video.

As much fun as that was, Max and I had to get to work on wrapping some more Christmas gifts that we still hadn’t done – keeping in mind that this is because I hadn’t had time to finish them before we left from Grande Prairie, so I had been working on them during our travels/visits to family and friends. But then when we were finally done with all of that, we made our way back to the living room, wrapped ourselves up in a nice homemade blanket and watched A Christmas Story. I had never seen it before and according to Max, it was the best Christmas movie ever. I will say that it was actually a lot better than I thought it would be, so I’m glad we took the time to watch it together and spend some time with my mom and step-dad.

The next morning was the big day! Or… the second big day! Max and I woke up early-ish because I had to run some errands at the mall and it was the first day of Boxing Week sales. The mall opened at 8AM, but I figured maybe we could just head over around 10AM because it would be busy regardless of what time we went to shop. And again, we ended up leaving an hour later than planned, but it all worked out. Initially, I was going to spend the money my mom and step-grandma had given me for my birthday. They told me to buy something with the money and then let them know what I had gotten, but as soon as I received the money, I knew I wanted new make-up. The only problem was that there weren’t any make-up shops in Grande Prairie, so I saved the money until we got to Halifax and headed straight to Sephora once we were at the mall. Hello paradise! Don’t worry though, I actually just spent the amount of money that they gave me, although I paid about 5$ for the taxes of my own money. I am definitely way too excited to try out some new looks!

After we were done at the mall, my mom asked us to pick up some BBQ sauce and apple sauce at superstore, so we tried to get there, got lost, kept driving up Robie Street, turned around, and finally found a superstore on Quinpool. We decided to grab some grub while we were there and brought it back home to eat for a late lunch.

Then it was time to start getting ready before all the guests arrived. I was unaware at the time, but turns out mom had invited everyone to come in earlier than planned since it was giving bad weather that night. Because of this, Linda & Don (my step-aunt and step-uncle) as well as Amy, AKA Nanny Mills, decided they wouldn’t be able to make it over for supper. The roads were already getting bad by mid-afternoon, so we definitely understood why they made the call.

The first ones to arrive were my step-brother Jay and his girlfriend Nancy. It was really great seeing them because I don’t see them very often given that our schedules always conflict. They live in Newfoundland and usually come home once or twice a year, depending on circumstances. We sat down and chatted with them for a while until the rest of the gang arrived. In came my step-brother Luke and his wife Vicky, along with their two daughters Maggie – the birthday girl, might I add! – and Libby. Then came my step-sister Hayley, her husband Darren, and their kids Blake, Layla and Edmund.

After everyone arrived, it wasn’t even 4PM yet! My mom then suggested maybe we could open the gifts before supper. Layla was ecstatic about the idea so we all agreed and sat down in the living room, excited to see what Santa had brought for everyone.

My mom took on the responsibility of gift giver, whereas Max was appointed to be garbage bag man. We started off with gifts for the kids so that they could play with their toys if they got tired later while the adults opened their gifts. They all got some really cool stuff, from Monster High toys to beautiful fancy dolls, to Star Wars legos and so much more! As for my siblings and I, we got clothes, kitchen appliances – HELLO FOOD PROCESSOR! – and gift cards galore. Of course, we all got nice individual gifts that we mentioned we would like, and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I opened my big gift from my mom and step-dad… They bought me an I-phone 5!!! Mind. Blown.

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As if this wasn’t enough, we all got cards from our parents and we each got a card from Nanny Mills. They usually give us a little bit of money or a gas gift card, which is always very appreciated. But this year, they went all out and both cards contained a very large sum of money!! My eyes filled with tears, although I tried to keep them in. I couldn’t even hug Nann because she didn’t make it over that night. I gave my mom a real tight squeeze and couldn’t thank her enough. It was too much, honestly, but we’re all in a place in our lives that we could really use that money, and I know that’s why they gave it to us. I am so blessed to have such an amazing and generous family. I can’t believe there’s still one Christmas to go!!

After all the crazy excitement from opening all the gifts, we sat down in the dining room for a delicious supper that my mom cooked all by herself. There was so much food, I couldn’t decide what to eat! And as always, I just filled my plate to the brim with every kind of food you could possibly imagine that would be served for Christmas supper – minus the meat, of course. We were also served “special juice,” which is not alcohol if that’s what you were thinking! It was sparkling apple and peach juice, absolutely delightful!

Oh, and since it was Maggie’s birthday, we made sure to have some ice cream for dessert! It was served after everyone had eaten to their heart’s content, alongside some apple pie, cherry pie, and vanilla ice cream on top. I knew my stomach could take no more, but my eyes said “Oh my God, eat that! And that! AND THAT!” So I did. And I once again regret nothing.

Everyone ended up heading home by 7PM, which was good timing because the weather just got worse as time progressed into the night. The rest of us spent a quiet night in. We forgot to take full family picture earlier, so we did that with just me, Max, my brother and my mom. Let me just point out that Max is incapable of taking a nice picture, so my brother decided he would help me try to get him to smile for picture. We’re standing in front the of Christmas tree and my brother is behind my mom, who is taking the picture. All of a sudden, my brother pulls something out of his pocket and starts throwing them at us.

“Look! Q-Tips!!”

I almost fell over laughing. The end result:

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Our best attempt at taking a picture together.

We sat together in the living room for a while, watched some TV and chatted. Then Max and I were in the mood to play Minecraft so we hung out in my bedroom while I also worked on some last minute gifts for Christmas in Moncton. We also watched a movie together and stayed up late talking about all the amazing moments we experienced these past few days. It was so overwhelming, and talking about it just brought up tears of joy. I love my families so much.

And speaking of family, it wouldn’t have been a trip to Halifax without seeing our second mom, Bonnie! She stopped in to visit the following morning and we spent a few hours on the couch catching up, chatting about our lives and what we’ve been up to lately! She also met Max for the first time – that is, if you don’t count the time we Face Timed on Thanksgiving day. It was so great to see her, especially since I’d been gone for a while and we hadn’t kept in touch much.

Next up on the visiting list was Nanny Mills since she couldn’t make it out to the family supper the night before. On the way there, we had a nice surprise: Maxime got to FaceTime with his mom in Moncton, where they were having a family supper with the Bernards. We got to say hi to everyone and send them warm wishes during the holidays, despite the fact that we couldn’t make it to the get together.

We made it Nan’s house and said goodbye to Max’s family. We headed inside with the gifts we got for her and were greeted with warm hugs and smiles all around. My step-brother Luke and his family were there but they were just on their way out so we did the whole hi-bye bit and then sat down in the living room to chat with Nan.

We talked about so many things, and she told us lots of stories from when she was young. Max was hanging off the edge of his seat, he was so interested by all that she had to say. It was his first time meeting her as well, so it really gave him a chance to get to know her.

After spending some quality time together, Remi told Nan that we had some Christmas gifts for her to open. Max & I got her two small gifts, and Remi got her a card with a gift inside. She unwrapped the big gift first – it was only big because I couldn’t find a smaller box. Inside, she found a framed picture of Maxime and I – the only nice picture we have ever taken together. I knew she liked getting pictures of the whole family, but since we couldn’t get together with anyone else for a picture, I figured I could give her one of me and my better half. She was really happy about the gift and couldn’t believe she still had one more to open! The second one was a gift card to Dollarama, her favourite place to shop. She was giddy at the sight of it! I didn’t want to ruin the surprise, but I knew that’s what Remi had gotten her as well, so I waited for her reaction when she opened his card.

“Oh my land!!”

She starts laughing.

“I’m going to have such a good time at the Dollar Store! Oh my land!”

And with that, we said our goodbyes because it was already starting to get late and we were supposed to head back to Moncton right after supper. We made our way back to my mom’s place, making a quick stop to the Dollarama ourselves for a few small things.

As we were parking into my mom’s spot in the parking lot of her apartment building, Maxime looks outside and says to me “Hey, isn’t that Marielle?” I look over and I concur, it is her! I stick my head out the window and start waving. Maxime gets out of the car and waves as well. What are the chances?! Turns out she and her boyfriend Jo live in the same building! We hugged and talked for a bit. Holy jeez, we hadn’t seem them in quite a while, and I never would have imagined running into them at my mom’s apartment building! It was getting pretty chilly outside though and they were just arriving from a trip so we wished them a Happy New Year and ran inside to warm up.

Back at my mom’s apartment, we heated up some leftovers and started packing all of our stuff. We once again had more than we came with, but we managed to pack everything and just had one extra bag to bring back. And off we went, Moncton-bound again!

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