Lights

What are your best holiday memories as a child? Mine always included some yuletide light display around the city. Edmonton has an abundance of festive events available for a nominal fee, some are quite expensive for a small family and the best kind in my book, FREE.

As a kid, my best memory was Fort Edmonton Park. It included a hayride through the dark village and heading over to Egge’s barn for hot chocolate and cookies to wrap up the evening. I am attending Fort Edmonton’s panto Red Riding Hood on Thursday so that fun place is checked off my list for 2018! I, of course, will report back. I also really enjoyed the teddy exhibit at RAM but they haven’t collected bears in years. But mostly I loved driving through the different neighbourhoods to see how people decorated their homes. Late at night with car blankets on our laps, Christmas sing-a-long music playing on the radio and late night hot chocolate before bed. 

I did a variation of those activities with my kids when they were little. We would load them up in the toboggan and pull them along Candy Cane Lane (several blocks in Edmonton that decorate for the season with magnificent displays). We would visit the  donkey where my daughter yells “HI DONKEY!” The donkey and sheep were part of the living nativity scene at City Hall. We would do the drive-by light display at the park and go look at the tree at the Ledge. All the things that my kids reminisce about even today.  

Last night we all piled into the car and drove to a dark empty parking lot in the city’s east side industrial area and wait for the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train. It travels across the country and sets up a party in different cities to raise money and awareness for local food banks. I produced a series of events for Alberta Food Banks this fall so I felt I was covered. Sitting in the dark and seeing the glow of the train was magical. It made me wish this was a thing when my son was little. Never have you met a bigger train enthusiast than my boy. Even today he still says ” oooooooooo a train!” and then spouts off knowledge you didn’t think you needed to know. 

We stood on the side of the tracks (a safe distance away) a watched the lights. The passenger car that held the entertainment was playing Elvis’ Blue Christmas so festive music added to the charm in the dark.  This is a thing I plan on going to as long as CP Rail participates. It was magical. I recommend checking out when it will visit your neighbourhood or a the very least do a rail-by. Go to Instagram and follow #CPHolidaytrain for more beautiful photos.  

Even you can’t see the CP’s display, then for sure visit your local neighbourhood. Lights just bring me into the spirit of the season, I hope they do for you as well.

Tradition

I grew up with December steeped in tradition. We celebrated Christmas hardcore. The Christmas Tree went up the first Sunday in December or as soon as Dad agreed. Christmas Carols began playing on Saturday mornings as background music to house cleaning as soon as the first snow arrived. This could have been September or it could have been November. First Snow meant Christmas music. First snow in Edmonton meant early fall. We had a Christmas party every year and Santa always came. I knew it was one of my grandfathers but still…he came every year.Christmas Eve lunch with one set of grandparents. Chinese food with the other grandparents on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning brunch with my parents and Christmas dinner with my grandma. Every year the dependable comfort of traditional events happened. I loved all of it.

I no longer want to do many of these things and have established my own traditions that focus more on my little family. I prefer simplicity. But one tradition I have kept from my childhood that I look forward to every year is gathering up the family and exploring the city to look at Christmas lights.

I find fewer people decorate their homes or actually, there are more diverse people living in my neighborhood who don’t celebrate Christmas so not every house has lights. (My neighborhood during Diwali is magnificent though!). People are still decorating at Christmas, just not close by. But looking at lights still remains my favorite tradition of my childhood, that and Scottish Shortbread.

My family packed themselves into the car along with my pal Captain, and we went out in search of Christmas Lights. Often we plan to walk through decorated neighborhoods and this year with the mild temperatures would have been perfect. But I am not at my best healthwise so we turned on the seat warmer and rolled the window down to enjoy the weather and lights.

Our first stop was Castrol Raceway. I have no idea if this was the first year for this or it is an annual tradition that I had not heard of, either way, this was fantastic. $25 a carload ($50 for Limo and $125 for a bus). We drove out near the airport and had plenty to look at.

 

Then we traveled to Candy Cane Lane, it is nice but not as spectacular as in Christmas Past.

 

Traditionally we traveled to the Downtown core to look at the old museum grounds, Legislative grounds and City Hall. No Tree this year at Winston Churchill Square because of the construction but the Ledge was beautiful.

But the best was saved for last. Christmas at Bobs was spectacular. Give this website a visit to learn more about it and his wish for you to pay it forward. It is interactive and fun. My girl posed in front of the Angel Wings, and then my pal Cap needed to pose as well. It was hilarious and beautiful. I recommend giving this place a visit and then go do something nice for someone else.

Whatever you celebrate, I hope its special this year. But from my family to yours, Merry Christmas.

It’s the Most Wonderful Cheg of the Year!

I changed up my routine today. Normally I am a creature of habit, but today was – lets just call it a DAY and move on, so I took myself to the local Starbucks and saw the wondrous sight for CHRISTMAS! I really do not appreciate Christmas before Remembrance Day, but in this case it was comforting.

A huge change for me happened today. There was some tears, hugs and playful knocks. I have carried around some stress about it for a week, it all let loose today and it’s a relief. On the way home, I decided to treat myself to a really GREAT coffee.

I pulled up to the doors and lo and behold, CHRISTMAS at Starbucks!  Forget the coffee! Cheg was on the menu! There is something so relaxing about a Cheg. It to the stress away. One sip and ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Suddenly I was transported to Christmas on the Square. 🙂

Every year in Edmonton, Winston Churchill Square has a Winter Festival. It is lights, trees, sleigh rides, hot chocolate, roving entertainers, and fireworks. My family likes to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas Season by attending this festival. We wander around enjoying the entertainment. We participate in the light countdown and stand together as a family as the fireworks go off overhead. Cheg is my beverage of choice. The taste of the warm spicy chai mixed with the creamy taste of eggnog all heated to an extra hot temperature = divine family time.

My mom called earlier  this week to make plans to go to Christmas on the Square on Saturday. In all honesty, I forgot. My mind has been busy working ahead in my University class and thinking about work. It all came back to me as I walked through the door to Starbucks and greeted with the Red and White Christmas Signs.

Edmonton is often refered to as Festival City. This will be festival #11 for me this year. Hmm #11. That is a very special number for me. So this just might be the best festival yet!

My Family + Cheg = Perfection

The Edmonton Tourist becomes Tour Guide!

Good News! I am back on chocolate! It is more out of necessity then preference because the Belgium Chocolate is gone and I stole a piece of Chatterbox’s Halloween candy. But I am back to normal, when I say normal I really mean frazzled. Chocolate and coffee are my current drug of choice. All is good with my world once again.

Things in my life are moving at a frantic pace. I am finding my University course interesting, yet monotonous. So much reading about the same thing. Talking to my 3 mentors makes the course very interesting. I really am thankful for them. My work is great but super busy, as always. My children’s marks are unbelievably amazing! Family health issues are starting to resolve themselves. Just when I think I have everything under-control, a giant pothole shows up and upsets the apple cart. The next little while will be filled with new adventures and I can’t wait to get started! But………

I need a distraction for about an hour. I need my mind to wander and think about other things for a brief moment in time. So my dear readers, I need your help!

At the end of the month we are having a visitor stay with us through Christmas. When I say visitor, I really mean the Evil Genius. That’s right, my step-son is paying a call from future.  When I say future, I really mean Australia. I can hear you all saying “Why would someone who has a perfectly lovely summer season coming up CHOOSE to go to Edmonton for the winter?” Good question! From what I understand about Genetic Offspring, Honey and the Evil Genius, science is their thing. Spacey science to be more exact. Edmonton is DARK in the winter, and by dark I mean the sunrises around 8:30ish and sets at 4:00ish. Perfect for seeing the Northern Lights – sorry – Aurora Borealis. I admit, it is one of my most favorite things about Edmonton too. Off our deck is the perfect view-point! Maybe light a fire in the outdoor fireplace, sit in a snow suit and wait. That’s the problem. There isn’t a set schedule, but there is a web site that offers a “forecast“. That will be helpful!

I need your help because I want to know what OTHER people want to see and do when they come to The Great White North. Here are my ideas, please feel free to edit, change and add to the list.

  1. Roast marshmallows, make s’mores and wait for the Northern-lights
  2. Visit the Telus World of Science to use the observatory and check out the stars in the freezing cold.
  3. Go to an Oiler Hockey Game and possibly an Oil Kings Hockey game
  4. Shovel the side-walk
  5. Hang the Christmas lights
  6. Strap a snowboard to his feet and push him down the hill
  7. Go to the Ice on Whyte festival and check out the ice sculptures
  8. Drag the Evil Genius around town to look at Christmas lights
  9. Go Ice skating on a pond and learn what Shinny is
  10. Go see the Christmas Carole at the Citadel Theatre
  11. Go on a Sleigh Ride

I am looking forward to being the Edmonton Tour Guide for a while. I am nervous about the cold. It could be Blizzard season, no not the ice cream from Dairy Queen, a REAL BLIZZARD! Or it could be unseasonably warm, hovering around 0C . Hard to say what the weather will be like. It IS Edmonton, so if you don’t like the weather just a minute and new weather shows up. At any rate I hope the Evil Genius has a great time – or at the very least – lie to me and say it’s great 😉

So my dear readers, what would YOU like to see if you came for a visit?