I am pleased to say this Holiday season was a vast improvement on the previous year. Not that our first Christmas in Canada was a bad one it was just different I suppose. We decided to spend our first Christmas in Canada at home, which is the first year we hadn’t been away for the holidays in 6 years. In hindsight that wasn’t the best idea. We were used to being way from our families at Christmas but we were always busy exploring somewhere new. So last year as the four of us sat down for a quiet Christmas dinner in our own home it didn’t really feel much different from a normal Sunday lunch. I think the festive season is the toughest time of year for expats as the media bombards you with images of the perfect family Christmas surrounded by your loved ones and sentimental music on the radio just acts as a constant reminder that you wont be ‘driving home for Christmas’ Chris Rea style and I swear if I heard that song once more in December the radio was going to end up in the garden! So this year we decided it would be different.
I started my preparations early by making my own mincemeat so I could make some mince pies. You can’t buy them here very easily and the ones you do find are pretty gross. Thanks to a Delia Smith recipe they turned out pretty darn good and were a hit with the Canadian relatives on Christmas day after they were assured several times that they did NOT in fact contain any type of meat! The Festive Cupcakes went down pretty well too.
I got the boys decorating cookies on Christmas Eve and we finally started to get in the spirit of things.
We had a lovely, (almost) traditional Turkey dinner on Christmas day and at the crack of dawn on Boxing Day we hit the road to drive south to spend a week in Florida, now that’s my type of Christmas!
Our first blip in the journey was only 2 hours in when we had to cross the border into the States. We always get a bit of hassle as we are travelling on our UK passports but I stupidly thought going over at 6.30am on Boxing day would be straight forward, WRONG! After receiving the usual million questions, being photographed and finger printed again they finally let us through. It’s funny really, we are British Citizens resident in Canada, both countries have a far superior economic situation than in the states and they honestly treat you like you are going to try to stay there illegally or something? Don’t figure.
After an uneventful drive through New York State we entered Pennsylvania and the terrain began to change as we started to climb into the Appalachian Mountain Range. Within about 30 minutes of driving we went from this
We hit a huge snowstorm through the mountains and the traffic came to crawling speed. The snowflakes were the biggest I’ve ever seen but instead of hitting the window with a ’splat’ like they would in England the snow was hard, brittle and icy. We crawled on for a couple more hours before it finally cleared up as we passed through West Virginia. By the time we entered North Carolina we’d had enough driving for one day and stopped in a hotel for some sleep.
I’ve had a few comments about the sense in driving all that way when we could just as easily fly. My thoughts on that are this: firstly I had no intention of flying through the holiday season and dealing with the possibility of flight cancellations or diversions due to inclement weather. Secondly, I hate trying to weigh all my clothes to make them fit in with my baggage allowance and finally, it would still take a whole day when you consider driving to the airport, parking, checking in, security, customs etc etc. Driving could be done at our pace, we could go where we wanted when we wanted and we got to see albeit a small part of the states but it gave you a real sense of the scale of the place. The mountains in Viriginia were really pretty, not quite ‘Rocky Mountain Spectacular’ but really lovely nonetheless. Also a road trip to Florida is almost a right of passage here, in this part of the country it seems everyone has done it as a child, almost every adult has fond memories of road trips ‘down south’ and I wanted to boys to have the same memories. Anyway we didn’t mind the drive because we knew this was at the end of it!