My Cottage is like Christmas

Cottaging. Canada’s favourite pastime. For my American readers, no, I am not referring to a cabin similar to the one Snow White stumbled upon in the woods.

However, with my cottage this rarely involves casually hanging out with a few friends. My whole family is there. Grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins, the whole gang! Just like Christmas, well, Christmas with my family.

With it being my grandparent’s cottage, there are a few stipulations. There’s no alcohol, no swearing, and no scandalous attire. It’s a real test of character and your ability to find entertainment and enjoyment in the mundane. Did I mention that you’re stuck on an island? There’s no sneaking out in the middle of the night.

Watch out, though. At my cottage, you will want to eat all the time. Mainly because there’s food everywhere. Dinner’s are always elaborate and involve the whole family sitting at a crazy long table. Don’t worry, no formal wear is required. Lunches are more casual, but they always involve dessert. Yes, there is dessert with every meal. You might even consider some of the breakfast options as desserts in and of themselves. There are also plenty of couches, not only because there are a crap-ton of us, but after your giant turkey dinner and pie, you’re going to need to lie down.

How do you feel about blackouts? With cottage blackouts, there’s no telling how long they’ll last. Maybe the power will return almost immediately. Maybe never. It’s good to be prepared for never. Aside from the need to overcome your fear of the dark, it’s important to know how to survive with lack of technology. And be prepared to eat your share of the ice-cream bars during lengthy blackouts. We can’t let them go to waste!

Creativity is key and a love of board games is a must. Ok, maybe you don’t have to love them, but you have to be willing to play. Once the sun goes down and the bugs come out, it’s time to retreat indoors.

(Super) Northern Living

 

 I live in the north, or so I thought until my brother decided to move to the “super” north. Okay, so it’s only about 1.5hrs north of where I live, but it’s far for my standards and remote enough to make my Caledon country lifestyle look like a crowded cityscape. However, since he has a beautiful home, and I happen to be very fond of him, I plan to visit often. And with these frequent trips, I figured I should devise a plan for survival.

Tips for Surviving the Super North

1. Indoor Plumbing

There’s just something about the open wilderness that makes you forget about the worries and stress of the city/ my life. That is, of course if this wilderness included plenty of sunshine and indoor plumbing. Living like the first men who walked this earth might sound like a party for some people, but I am not one of them. There’s no sense in kiboshing your hard earned relaxation with the thought of when your next hot shower will be…or cold one.

2. Have a plan-of-action for your long drive.

I’ve decided that I’m good to drive about an hour north. Once I pass that one hour mark and have another half hour of driving through empty fields, I get a little stir car crazy. This often involves a lot of shouting and contemplating abandoning my car on the side of the road and taking a nap. So far, I’ve chosen to power through the drive. To avoid this car fever, it can be helpful to bring a friend along for the journey. I also try to break up the drive with rest stops. You wouldn’t think that a rest stop is necessary for what some folks might consider a seemlingly short drive, but you would be wrong. Fortunately, my route is filled with several conveniently located Starbucks to choose from. I also find that jamming out to some good ole country tunes helps me to get in the small town country mood. 

3. Take the time to fully explore the small-town nuances!

The local paper is a goldmine for neighbourhood gossip and local events. Fun fact, there’s an upcoming Butter Tart Festival that’s sure to be a sweet hit. They also include a two page spread highlighting garage sales in the area so you can plan your Saturday morning accordingly. And don’t forget to take a trip to the local Walmart. Oh sure, it’s just Walmart. I’m sure you have one in your town. Wrong! Here, people walk around unironically wearing cowboy hats. 

Grown Up Easter

Celebrating Easter as an adult is tricky. Society leads us to believe that Easter is for kids. It’s all about the furry little animals and egg hunts. If the kids in your family have grown past Easter eggs hunts, what do you do?

Planning an Easter egg hunt can be a lot of work. Most people would assume that this leads to the end of Easter egg hunts. Not in my family. Apparently, the alternative involves my grandma throwing a salad bowl full of eggs in all directions while the grandchildren run to collect them. Eggs are thrown everywhere. There’s really no telling where they’ll land. The floor, the dinner table, your drink. She really can’t see so well.

Even though we’ve grown, the tradition continues. However, we’re not collecting eggs to enjoy a sweet treat as much as we are trying to keep them away from the dogs. Although the dogs seem very excited at the thought of their own hunt, it wouldn’t really bring quite the Easter surprise everyone hopes for. Also, don’t forget to check your drinks for stray eggs and broken glass. Enjoy!

From My Crazy Relatives to Yours

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It’s Christmas time again. Well, it was. With grandchildren having their own children, our group has grown to about 40 people. Let me tell you, even when you know most of them, 40 people in your basement is pretty overwhelming.

Vivid Dinner Conversations

Each dinner is filled with unique, fascinating conversations. However, my family’s definition of “fascinating” tends to be different than most. This year, my uncle decided to tell one of the young ones a fun animal story. Kids like animals, right? I don’t know why she had such a terrified look on her face at the end. His mouth didn’t move to the side of his face. He just started keeping extra teeth there…for emergencies.

Spot the Uncomfortable Grandchild

Having old immigrant grandparents, you’d probably think my family get-togethers are filled with interesting stories from a time now read about in history books. Well, you’d be wrong. Yes, my grandparents lived in an extraordinary time; however, these are not the stories they decide to share with me. Instead, they love to sit me down and talk about the wonder that is the ocean. I bet you didn’t think someone could talk about the ocean for a half hour. Well, my grandfather can, and he sounds nothing like David Attenborough.

Thankfully, I have amazing cousins who keep an eye out for trapped grandchildren and come to their rescue. Although, when it was my turn to rescue my poor cousin, I was not so successful. I’m going to have to come up with a backup next time my “Oh hey, I think your mom needs you upstairs” gets shot down…

What Has Uncle Joe* Read About This Year

Speaking of uncomfortable conversations to avoid, I have this uncle. Lets call him Uncle Joe. Uncle Joe reads a lot of “educational” books. I use the term educational loosely as most of them are filled with crazy medical theories that make you want to scream, “No!”, but there’s no reasoning with, “It’s 100% true. I read it in a book.” Ok, Uncle Joe, wheat is the root of all diseases…and evil. Good luck with that…

This year did have a surprising twist ending, though. Unlike the usual, “When are you going to settle down and start a family?”, my grandmother told me, “Take your time. There’s too many people here already.” Okay…Good to know.

*His name has been changed to protect his identity.