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These are my notes for the trip, from the time we left 11 days ago up until we arrived home last night. My apologies for the broken sentences and shifting tenses; they were edited willy-nilly, written whenever I had a few spare moments and a bit of energy.

Dec 19th
Worst cabbie ever. Gas, brake, gas, brake, ad nauseum (and I do mean nauseum). Due to my wife’s paranoia we arrive at Pearson 2.5 hours before our flight leaves.

We saw the world’s most talkitive woman at our gate.

A few hours later we’re in Halifax. Foggy, foggy Halifax. A bite to eat and we’re on the road…in the wrong direction at first but eventually we point west and get going. We’re in Yarmouth before 8:00.

We arrive to find a huge feed of seafood. Six of us sit down to the two biggest lobsters I’ve ever seen and the others dig in; I don’t like lobster so I eat a bowl of fried shrimp (seriously).

Glory be…Nellie’s mom has bags of Hostess chips, the classic ones like barbecue. So good. The ladies decorate the tree while the Faux Fire crackles. I feel a big sleep coming on.

Dec 20th
Sure enough, I slept until 10. I drove out in search of a Globe and Mail (only on vacation do I let myself read it) and am now looking forward to an afternoon of relaxing and reading while Nellie and her mom do some shopping.

Much lounging around was done all the livelong day while the ladies wrapped presents. Having just finished off a huge feed of delicious homemade chinese food courtesy of Joan (whose house looks as if Christmas exploded inside it) we’re just about to watch some movies and relax.

The Terminal: muh. Dawn Of The Dead (2004): already seen it. Not half bad.

Dec 21st
Again, we slept in ’til 10. Again, my morning’s been spent watching sports + news and reading the newspaper. Not much planned for today. I guess I should shower at some point. Right now I’m hiding in the living room while 8 or 10 women have lunch out in the kitchen.

This afternoon was an exercise in relaxation: reading our books while stretched out on the couch next to a fire, snacking and drinking wine. Tonight we took everyone out to dinner, but it was a little disappointing. My honey garlic chicken was a fried chicken breast with molasses poured on it.

It’s looking like a quiet night. Nellie’s putting on her xmas pajamas (a yearly present from her mother) and we’re just gonna relax now. I’m scanning under the tree for Toblerone-shaped gifts…

Dec 22nd
Up a bit earlier this morning ’cause today is 1st xmas. Today we opened the presents with the mother-in-law. Let me just say that I’ve never seen so much chocolate in one place before. I also got a Romeo Dallaire book and a bottle of Cardhu (!) from the ma-in-law.

So far in Yarmouth I’ve heard people use the words “kike” and “negro”. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Alabama in 1954.

We had a nice steak dinner tonight, the first normal food I’ve had in a couple of days. Now I’m settled in front of the TV, watching the Raptors game and waiting for the World Jr exhibition game to start. I do so love these xmas traditions…

Dec 23rd
Up early this morning for a change as we get ready to depart Yarmouth and head to my family’s farm. We’re planning to stop at a town outside Halifax to visit my brother and she-who-must-not-be-named, who are at her parents’ place until boxing day.

We stopped in for lunch and a quick hello, then journeyed on to the farm. Suffice it to say there has already been much relaxation and crib. Leftover pork for dinner, but homemade ice cream for dessert. Stayed up to watch the Phoenix-Memphis game before crashing.

Dec 24th
Despite going to bed around 1:00 I’m awake by 7:30. I think the windstorm woke me up; the wind has died down, but it’s now raining…so much for the white xmas.

By the way, add a bunch of “fruit” jokes to the list of horribly insensitive things we’ve heard people say. I should point out that it’s not our parents saying this, but rather their friends and extended family.

Have played copious amounts of crib. I beat my mother 2 games to 0, lost 1 of 1 to my wife and am tied 5-5 with my dad.

Church was the usual painful event. Saw some people from my childhood, listened to singing, marvelled at the bratty kids, etc. As much as I hate organized religion and diskike churches in general, I must admit to being pleasantly surprised by the equality rainbow and AIDS awareness decorations around the church, not to mention the anti-missile-defense flyers in the entryway.

Anyway, everyone’s now watching the Emmet Otter Christmas Jugband Special or whatever it’s called. A few hours until we’re zonked, and then we hope for snow. It’s cooled down about 12 degrees since this morning, so it’s entirely possible.

Dec 25th
Merry xmas! We’ve just finished the gift-opening extravaganza. Change of tradition: this year I was the gift distributor. My wonderful, brilliant wife got me a 40GB Creative Zen Xtra MP3 player which I can’t wait to get home and fire up, and I got lots of other good stuff too. We’ve just packed everything up, so now we’re awaiting xmas dinner (which, in NS, is really lunch) and then sports.

Crib update: Dad and I are now tied 7-7. I think we might leave it there; 12 games (2 of them were skunks) in 48 hours is a lot. Just watched Canada beat Slovakia 7-3, so there’s nothing to do now but pack up and hit the hay. Tomorrow’s the family reunion and then it’s on to Halifax for us.

Dec 26th
Boxing Day. As is the custom with my dad’s side of the family we gather at one of his sister’s houses. It’s busy this year as nearly all the aunts, uncles and cousins came along with the many small kids. Nellie and I won the this year’s trivial pursuit matchup before everyone got the hell out of dodge before the big storm hit (more on that later).

We drove to Halifax that afternoon and checked into the Lord Nelson. As we did last year on the 26th we had dinner at The Keg (not many places are open on Boxing Day, especially on a Sunday in NS) before we returned to the room to relax. Around 8:00 the snow started to fall…

Dec 27th
Oy. We’ve been hit by the worst storm of the season, such that pretty much the entire city of Halifax has been shut down. No restaurants are open, all the stores are closed (on what would normally be the biggest shopping day of the year), but that didn’t stop Nellie from buying new shoes & boots. The streets are empty except for plows and taxis. The hotel is deserted. The power has flickered off several times this afternoon, and they’ve set up emergency lighting in the corridors. The half-completed building outside our window has had tarps torn off and the crane has been turned into the wind.

Worst of all we found out that Da Maurizio is closed. We had reservations to mark our anniversary, and Nellie was looking forward to it as she didn’t get to enjoy it last year (she was sick), but the weather foiled our plans. In fact, every restaurant in town is closed and so we’ve ordered food from Alexandria’s, and will have to have our anniversary dinner in the pub
downstairs.

Oh well, it could be worse; we could be tsunami victims. Or even my parents, who’ve lost all power and are now shivering in the dark. At least we have light, heat, food and a TV, and garlic fingers & poutine, and diet pepsi in wine glasses. That’s about as sweet as it can get under the circumstances…

Dec 28th
The storm has finally passed, but the cold has arrived. Halifax has slightly more life to it than yesterday, but roads are still slick and drifts are still high. Our shopping trip was basically aborted, and so we just stayed in the hotel. After check-out we went to visit J & C and their kids for a bit before heading to the airport. We nearly got frostbite just walking from the rental lot to the terminal. Anyway, it’s a good thing we were forced (due to rental car complications) to get here early…it’s nuts!! But then, I expect no less from an airport between xmas and new year’s.

It’s times like this I’m glad I don’t have kids.

We get to Pearson around 10:30, and are home an hour later. The cats are alive. It’s good to be back.

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