Family’s family, regardless of the date

Reporter Kate Saylors writes about a planned upcoming vacation to Ontario.

In the next couple weeks I’ll be taking a long-awaited trip to Ontario for a week. I haven’t been back home in a year and a half, so it’s been a much anticipated visit.

Now despite the fact that I’ve been gone so long, it doesn’t mean the family hasn’t kept up with the news in Grand Forks. Old newspapers with my articles in them sometimes, I hear, get circulated around the family and everyone stays up to date.

All of that to say, my time home is going to be very scheduled. I’ve got dinners on lunches on shopping dates on holiday parties.

The reason I decided to travel home in November is twofold: First of all, there’s the issue of airports around the holidays. Not that getting on a plane is pleasant in the best of circumstances, but man it is bad around the holidays. The customs officers get cranky, the security personnel seem to take pleasure in pulling apart your bags, and you run a 90 per cent chance that your seat buddy is going to be travelling with a dog and/or a tuna fish sandwich. Best to steer clear.

Secondly, and though this may seem strange, the holidays are my favourite time of year – but in all honesty, I enjoy the pre-Christmas much more than I do the actual holiday. My favourite parts of the holidays all come before Christmas day, so that’s why this year I opted to save myself the Christmas mark-up on the airfare and have a Christmas-before-Christmas, if you will.

There is so much I love about this time of year, but a lot of the credit goes to my mom. Ever since I was little, the house was just decked out. One year when I was about 15 or so, I suggested to my mom that she didn’t need to do the full shabang that year, four different wreathes and all. She wouldn’t hear of it, and I credit a lot of my love of the holidays to that. Our house was always so festive and full of love.

Then, of course, there’s the holiday baking, another shared mother-daughter task. My mom has a big accounting-style file folder full of recipes, most clipped out of magazines with her notes in the margins. A few tried and true recipes were made every year (peanut brittle, mint chocolate fudge) and others we rotated out depending on the year (chocolate cherry shortbread is a good one).

All that to say, I don’t need to be home at Christmas to have all my favourite parts of the season, because many of the best parts of the season happen before the big day anyways. Christmas tree decorating, family dinners (family armed with questions about life in B.C. and questions about the newspaper business), and tea and cookies with friends are some of the best parts of the year. None of that requires an actual day – family’s still family regardless of the date – so I’ll be celebrating early this year.