Monday, December 27, 2010

Day 311: Boxing day

From my lovely English-Canadian friend Gail:
"My mum told me when I was a kid that Boxing Day started off where the people would pack up boxes of food and gifts for those less fortunate than you and take them to them on the day after Christmas. Then it sort of evolved over the years to it being the day you visited the rest of your family. Christmas was for staying at home with your immediate family and Boxing Day was when you took the rest of the gifts (or boxes) to them."

From Wikipedia:
The tradition has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions. The exact origin is unknown and there are some claims that it goes back to the late Roman/early Christian era. Boxes were placed outside churches to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen.
In the UK, it certainly became a custom of the nineteenth-century Victorians for tradesmen to collect their "Christmas boxes" or gifts on the day after Christmas in return for good and reliable service throughout the year. Another possibility is that the name derives from an old English tradition: in exchange for ensuring that wealthy landowners' Christmases ran smoothly, their servants were allowed to take the 26th off to visit their families. The employers gave each servant a box containing gifts and bonuses (and sometimes leftover food).

So there you have the traditional versions. These days, the holiday is all about spending money. Similar to Black Friday in the States, Boxing Day is a huge shopping day. In fact, it's not just Boxing Day, but Boxing Week!!
Well, we didn't do any shopping. None at all. So there.
We spent the evening with a nice family, eating dinner and playing Scrabble. Good fun.

They even included us in their family tradition of Santa leaving extra Boxing Day presents.

This is what Santa left me:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Day 309: Happy Christmas

 We began our festivities on Christmas Eve with some crackers. 
Not the ones you eat, but these: 

Wikipedia- "Crackers are a part of Christmas celebrations in the UK and countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. A cracker consists of a cardboard tube wrapped in brightly decorated paper. The cracker is pulled by two people, and, much in the manner of a wishbone, the cracker splits unevenly. The split is accompanied by a small bang similar to that used in a cap gun."

"In one version of the tradition the person with the larger portion of cracker empties the contents from the tube and keeps them. In another each person will have their own cracker and will keep its contents regardless of whose end they were in. Typically these contents are a colored paper hat or crown; a small toy, a joke or piece of trivia on a small strip of paper. Crackers are often pulled before or after Christmas dinners or at parties."

Deven likes to pretend he's not having fun. But he is.

Movie time!

Christmas morning!

 Those books she always wanted!

The laptop Beef always wanted!


 Cozy slipper/boots that Nick got me!

Coloring books! (see, he is having fun!)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day 307: Wholesome Recreational Activities

Here are Beef and Emma heading for the school playground to check out the ice rink.

Isn't this neat? They set it up over the basketball court.

 Trying to stay out of the way of legit Canadians playing hockey.

Mama has a go on Beef's skates.

 Then there is the frozen puddle in the field which is more than adequate for our amateur needs.

No skates, no problem :) 

I never put much thought into scarves beyond being a fun winter fashion accessory, but good golly when it is 15 degrees with the wind blowing, a scarf is very necessary!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Day 304: Christmas Shopping

What should we get Grandma this year? I know! She loves liquor, we'll just pop over to Sears and pick up her favorite liquor-filled chocolates!

In other news: we're not sure what Boxing Day is all about, but we have been invited to someone's house for the occasion. I'll have to do some research so we don't commit any Boxing Day faux pas.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day 300! When you're done

A scene from a Canadian classroom:

Teacher: "When you're done your worksheet, we'll take it up and then you'll write your exam"

Translation: "When you have finished your worksheet, we'll go over it as a class and then you'll take the test".

Canadian use "done" in a strange way.  Here are more examples:

When are you done university?
I'm done school, now I can get a job.
I'm done my dinner, can I go outside?
When you're done this one, move on to the next one.

I can see where it would work, such as "She's done (she has done) her project" but "I am done my project" just sounds weird to me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 299: What's more Canadian?

I love this. It's a little late, but here is our very Canadian Bishop dressed up for Halloween - complete with authentic missing front tooth! Beauty, eh?

And in case you missed it, this is me and Nick in our Canadian costumes.

We didn't realize when we picked up these jerseys and hats from the thrift store that these two teams - The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens (aka the Habs) are bitter, family rending rivals. 
People who were not in on our "lol we're dressed as Canadians and it's funny" joke took our costume as either an affront to true fans, or funny because of the unlikeliness of a Habs fan and a Leafs fan coexisting peacefully.  
Picture us dressed as a 49ers fan and a Cowboys fan. Yeah. You understand now.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Day 298: Christmas Karaoke

Emma joined the school choir and tonight we were treated to their Christmas concert.

I don't know if this is a Canadian thing, or if this school is on the cutting edge of Christmas Concert technology.

The seats were set up facing the stage and a screen with Karaoke projected on it. The choir was placed at the back of the gym behind the parents(?) which was upsetting because they were really cute, and had dance moves and everything. I had to keep turning around to take pictures while apologizing to the parents behind me for the flash.

Why so serious?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day 297: Welcome to Canada

Canadians are very apologetic. A few weeks ago, I cut a man off in traffic. At the next light, he pulled up next to me and motioned for me to roll my window down. 
Awesome, I thought. I'm gonna get shot in a road rage incident. (contrary to popular belief people actually do get shot in Canada) 

Anyway, I rolled down my window and the man says "I'm so sorry. I don't want to seem like a pest, but you cut me off back there. I'm really sorry, I just wanted to let you know that you really should be more careful because you could cause an accident and I would hate for people to get hurt." 
Here I was ready to exchange fighting words and he's apologizing to me!  True story.

Some might also consider Canadians boring. I grabbed this picture from the CBC website where I was listening to a webcast about the world's perception of Canadians. I wish I could find that webcast again so I could post it because it was quite funny. 

I have decided I'd like to make this sign say:
"Welcome to Canada. Everything costs more."
Here are some photos of a recent grocery shopping excursion
Enough to make you go vegetarian?
Not such a great picture...Didn't realize I had the camera on video, so I had to grab a still shot...the bread on the top left is $3.29.
I have found that frozen pizza is perfect for sending in the kids lunch - cut it into fourths, put each fourth in a zippy bag and viola! Pizza for lunch. I put it in the oven when I wake up in the morning and it's usually ready and cooled enough for their lunch bags when they have to go. BUT we usually wait and buy a bunch when they are around $3.00 each.
A little over a pound of cheese.
A pound of butter.
Bag o' milk - 4 liters (1 gallon)
Now Canadian friends, before you get all defensive, like "That is an unfair representation - there are different stores, better prices, sales, that's not all the brands etc...this is just what you might see if you walked into a store. And people were looking at me funny for taking pictures of food so I had to be stealthy :D

Oh and gasoline is now hovering around $1.10 a liter. A liter! How many liters are in a gallon? Almost 4.  O_o

Welcome to Canada.