Friday, December 26, 2014

City Sidewalks Toronto Style

December 22, the countdown is on.  It's been a busy month.  What else is new?  Would we have it any other way! Jim suggested I pop down to the city and we would have a walk around and a nice dinner before everything gets really crazy.  Wow, love the idea.  I decide to get there a little early and have a walk around the area near Jim's office.  The Guinness sign is the Irish Embassy and Pub right next door to Jim's place.  Great lunches and lots of great beers.  

Impossible to go down the city and not take a picture of the CN Tower and the Clock Tower at Old City Hall.  I love the way the city has kept so much of it's old character.  Lots of little old buildings in amongst the many skyscrapers that are going up.  

Cranes are everywhere it is impossible to look up and not have one in your picture.  Office buildings, condos.  I think the City has decided the best way to clear up the traffic issues is just move everyone back into the city.  I would be game but the prices seem to range from $400,000 for 600 sq feet to ++++.  600 sq feet seriously do you even have a closet?


Jim wasn't ready until 5:30 so Andrew decided to accompany me to the Eaton's Centre.  What a great place to people watch while Andrew went into stores.  Didn't even feel self-conscious with my camera there were people taking pictures everywhere.  



If you are looking for a picture with Santa, his little house is outside beside the Holy Trinity Church.  



Nathan Phillips Square was hopping.  Kids were waiting impatiently for the Zamboni to finish and the line up to rent skates was crazy.  
The Christmas Tree and the Menorah side by side.  A truly multicultural city.  

No matter how old I get (which I hope is really old), I will always love the wonderful job the Bay does of their windows.  They truly are magical.  




A quick walk through Dundas Square and then off to dinner.  We stopped at Osteria Ciceri E Tria on Victoria and would have had an hour wait.  It's a Monday.  We ended up at Terroni (on Adelaide) which is a wonderful restaurant as well.  Lovely dinner, glass of wine and home by 8:30.  What a great night.  


Sunday, December 14, 2014

My Christmas Tree is a Timeline of my life

 The first weekend of December is our Family Tree Decorating Day or has been for the last 4 years.  Like everything in life decorating the tree has gone through many cycles.  Our first tree (1978) we went and cut down.  First stop was Canadian Tire to buy an ax, yes an ax.  When we arrived at the Christmas Tree Farm and walked down the lane with our ax I thought the owner was going to have a heart attack from laughter.  He looked at us, we were all of 23 years old and handed us a saw.  "No no we'll use the ax", after all Jim's grandfather was a logger.  Still laughing the owner explains to us very nicely that by the time we ax through a Christmas Tree there won't be a pine needle left on it.  We finally took his advice, found the perfect tree and cut it down with the saw "TIMBER".

The kids started appearing and tree cutting included sleigh rides, hot chocolate (maybe a little baileys for the adults).  The real tree stayed with us until around 1996, by then the boys were playing rep hockey and every boxing day we were off to one tournament or another.  Andrew in Niagara, David in Brantford.  Jim with one of the boys and Rachel and I with the other.  The whole time we were away I was paranoid about the tree, so with a little cajoling we replaced it with the artificial tree we still have today.
Yes my kids are bigger than the tree, this was 2002

Another transition happened this year when I moved the tree into the kitchen.  Every year we did the inevitable move all the furniture around to fit the tree into the proper corner in the family room.  It made it into 3 out of the 4 corners over the years.  Yes we had the inevitable crashes in the night as the tree fell down which led to nails in the ceiling to hold it up.  After one tree falling 3 times, Rachel, who was 5 at the time, said it might stand up better if the bottom was cut straight.  Out of the mouth of babes.  Then there was the year it was too tall and Jim just snipped off the beautiful top.  Screams of anguish where was the angel going to go.  The kids are now 25 to 30 and there were still a few gasps when they saw that I had moved the tree into the kitchen.  I love it where it is, yes I can't stare it at all night, but every time I head to the bathroom, I am surprised when I see the tree and a little gasp escapes me at how beautiful it looks and the magic it holds.

Our little tree has always been a family tree, very traditional and kid focused.  Coloured paper chains, popcorn ropes, handmade ornaments and my time travel decorations.  Every October 19th my little extra birthday present from my mom was an ornament.  1978 - the first Christmas.  1980 - my daughter and in her final years a number of mother and daughter ornaments which still bring a tear to my eye and a warm glow in my heart when we hang them.  I know she is still watching and that I am still special in her eyes.   My mom passed away in 2003 and Rachel for my birthday in 2004 gave me a mother daughter ornament, yes still tearing up as I write this down. LOL   

4 of the most important events in my life are on my Christmas Tree - my wedding and the birth of my children, and no matter how old my children get they still fight over whose decoration is closet to the top of the tree.

Family Holidays became a hunt for the perfect Christmas Decoration.  We were very fortunate to take some very memorable trips with our kids and the first stop was always the Christmas Store.  This continues on today, a birthday trip to New York in 2000 netted me 6 balls from Bloomingdale's, trips to Florida - is there anyone who has gone to Florida and not purchased a Sand Dollar Christmas Decoration.  A trip to Boston in 2011 will always remind us of Chris and Amanda's Wedding in PEI, we traveled there with good friends, the Irvines, via Boston.  Our first and only cruise (but not my last) to the Caribbean netted me a Santa face from St. Croix.  A trip to Sedona and the Grand Canyon reinforced in me the power and beauty of nature, and to be very careful around their mistletoe equivalent - they use hot peppers.

Rachel was on a school music trip to Annapolis and returned with this cute little Santa.   

Yes this one isn't on the tree, it's too special.  Jim and I celebrated our 35th anniversary with a trip to Sorrento, Italy.  A magical part of the world that I can't wait to go back too.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could get a Toronto Maple Leaf Stanley Cup ball to match our Toronto Blue Jays World Series Championship from 1992.  Maybe not this year.

Still a few decorations left from my crafting days.  The kids loved the bubble gum decorations even though I wouldn't let them eat the bubble gum.

New friends who have become old friends and old friends who have been rediscovered now have a special place on my tree and new and old memories combine.

A treasured decoration on our tree spent their first years on Granma's tree.

Twice a year I get to remember all of these wonderful memories, once when we put the tree up and then when I pack it away for another year.  Next year we have our first wedding, Rachel and Jay are tying the knot in the fall of 2015.  New tears of joy to shed and howls of laughter as our family continues to grow and new memories to add to our family tree.

Merry Christmas everyone, may it be full of laughter, tears of joy and new and old memories as you gather around your Christmas Trees.