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Christmas in Canada, 2023

December 20th, 2023

5 more sleeps!

We were up early to walk over to the airport from the parking lot at the Casablanca airport (where we’d spent the night) at 6am – 3 hours before our flight.  We’d also just learned that the flight was delayed 20 minutes already! As the Air Canada app yesterday said the flight was out of Terminal 2, that’s where we headed.  Upon getting into the first security line to just enter the airport Fran saw that the app now said Terminal 1!

We got out of line and walked back outside to get to Terminal 1.  Upon arriving there, there was NO signage for Air Canada and Fran asked at the Info Desk and was told that Air Canada was in fact in Terminal 2.  This time we walked indoors which was great cause it was like 3C outside!

We learned our flight was already delayed 20 minutes. We found the check-in counter (we could not get our boarding passes through the app as we were flying internationally) and dropped off our two free checked bags then made our way through security and immigration.  Here is where we thought we might be questioned about having a vehicle, but the border officer said nothing so we should be good.

In the meantime, Fran received notification from USPS that our mail would arrive in Buffalo today, so we we’ll drive down tomorrow, Phew! Not as rushed to go tomorrow as it would be Friday.

Our flight took off at 10:18 instead of the delayed 9:55 and we landed in Montreal a little early so plenty of time to get our checked bags and go back through customs to re-check them.  As we were getting our bags, we received notification that our 1:10 pm flight had been cancelled and we were rebooked on the 3:10 flight.  Dang!

We saw on the boards that there was 2:10 flight and went to an Air Canada desk to see about getting on that one but they said it was full (probably by higher status passengers than us from our flight).  So we had a couple of hours to kill and went for some lunch.  The food on the flight from Casablanca had not been good and we were hungry.

This later arrival looked like it could prove bad for Josh who was picking us up.  He had to be at a Cubs meeting that night and had hoped to drop us at the house first.  Instead, he picked us up and we all went together stopping at the local library to pick up some things the kids had made for Christmas that were ready.  We sat and watched the last half hour or so of their Cub meeting.

So by the time we got to Josh’s house it was around 9pm and we had a few things to do in preparation for our trip to Buffalo tomorrow.

Naturally due to jet lag, we did not sleep much or enough and Doug especially was up early.  We left at 7:30 to drop Josh off at his office and made it to Buffalo around 10:30. First stop, the post office to mail a couple of letters and a parcel to Serena and Kurt with some gifts from Morocco.

Next it was off to get our COVID vaccine and Flu shots – turns out they are no longer free so that was a surprise but as much as we travel, we felt they were important to get.  Then we did some grocery shopping for both us and for Josh for our time at his place.

We heard from Amanda that she was home from her appointment and could come get our mail and packages.  Her and Kevin are so kind to receive all this while we are not even going to pick up our car.  In the mail was the new tags and registration for the Honda (acutally brand new plates, not just tags!) and they let us step into their vestibule to open everything out of the cold.  They take our garbage from this exercise and kept some boxes for themselves.  This is above and beyond their “duties” and we so appreciate this.  We left them about 45 minutes with a Christmas gift from Morocco.

Our next and final stops were to get passports photos and international drivers’ licenses for our trip to the Middle East next month.  This took way longer than expected so it was probably good we did it last.  After getting Josh’s car washed and filling the gas tank at $3.14 per gallon, we got through the border with no issues and were in Bolton to pick up Josh by 6:30.  Tonight was his office Christmas dinner so he wasn’t going to be done till 8 so we went out for dinner.   About 7:30 in he walked with a fellow who works in the US for his company and they joined us for drinks before we left around 8:30.   Another night we didn’t get home till 9ish.

Friday, it was cold out -7C / 44F and Doug attempted a run with not great success but at least he felt like going; he’s been struggling lately so it was move in the right direction.  Josh was not working today (he’s off till the 2nd) and we stayed home gift wrapping and getting lists made for what had to be done to be ready for Christmas.  Fran did a walk in the cold and later had a call with her sisters.  Her younger sister, Cynthia, retired in June and over the past several months has been delving into our family history on our dad’s side – she actually found his biological father.  He was British and came over as a 13 year old boy.  It was a sad story as he was sent to Canada by his parents in the hopes of a better life (depression times) but ended up more as an indentured servant working 16 hours days.  He joined the Canada military in the reserves and made a couple of trips back to England but obviously at some point met our grandmother.  It’s not clear if he knew he got her pregnant as he went back to England before Dad was born and died a couple of years later of pneumonia.  His name was also Harry.  He’s buried outside London, England and perhaps we’ll go to see the grave when we return to Britain next year.

The grandkids arrived at 5pm and will be with us till the 28th instead of just the weekend.

Saturday,  Josh had booked a photo shoot at Walmart and we went to get some family Christmas pics taken. Here are a few of them: (kids are really hard to get cooperating with smiles!)


Then Doug and Fran took the kids shopping for their father before we went for a pizza lunch and a swim at the community pool.  We were pleasantly surprised how warm the water was and actually stayed in the water with the kids the entire time!

We returned to Josh’s and spent the rest of the weekend getting ready for the big day and playing lots of games.

On Sunday afternoon, we went to the field at the end of the street to shoot off rockets:

One got lost on the other side of the fence on the property of a private factory and after trying, learned we could not access the property and we’d have to wait till Wednesday to see if they were open and if they’d allow us on the property to find it.


Later that day we all opened a couple of presents before going to bed:

Christmas Day the kids awoke after little sleep – not from excitement but they both seemed to have a stomach bug (which had been on and off recently).  By 7:30 we got the stockings going and then gifts but we did it all in spurts; unwrap some, play with some.  We still had a bout a third left by dinner time.

For dinner we had a wonderful meal of chicken legs (kids’ request), mashed potatoes, stuffing, carrots, cranberry and Red Lobster buns with apple pie and Nanaimo bars for dessert.  Most of us got quite full.

One of the gift Cyrus received was a model of a battle siege Ballista.  We spent a good hour putting it all together and then did a test fire:

Boxing Day we all pretty much stayed indoors (although Doug went for his run – things are starting to get better in that regard).  We continued opening presents and the kids opened their big one from their father – new loft beds which we all worked on getting put together that afternoon.  We played a lot of games and Fran and Arya worked on her cross stich set.  Josh made a yummy apple crumble for dessert:

Wednesday night when the kids were getting ready for bed, Arya noticed that the stuff on the floor of her closet was wet.  Uh oh.  Turns out the roof was leaking.  Doug checked it and confirmed it the next morning.  Josh put in a call to the company that put a new roof on the house just before he bought it in 2019 and they were over that afternoon.   It was something to do with where his roof connects with the neighbour’s roof and the flashing but it was all repaired at no cost to him.  Phew!

The kids left that afternoon before dinner and went back to their mom’s where they will celebrate a late Christmas and New Year’s.  So we got to spend six full days with them.

The next few days we spent with Josh at his house; the weather was wet, not sunny at all and some days 8C / 47 F and some around freezing but it didn’t snow.  Fran went for a pedi, we all went out to the great Italian restaurant on Saturday night (best pizza!) and we did a lot of stuff online that we’d been waiting to do here with Josh’s good Wi-Fi including more planning and booking of things for our upcoming two month Africa/Asia trip.

Sunday night, New Year’s Eve, we just stayed home and during the evening it snowed a touch.  We spent New Year’s Day getting ready to pack tomorrow morning doing laundry and organizing.  By late afternoon Fran had developed a bit of a cough – uh oh!

Tuesday morning, we finished packing, put away our “bedroom” and after a mid morning “brunch” Josh took us to the airport.  He worked from home for the morning and will go to the office after the airport.

After going through the short security line up, Doug couldn’t find his phone!  Fran got on the airport Wi-Fi and texted Josh asking him to check the winter coats we’d left in the car.  Nope wasn’t there.  Well fortunately, for us, we had been given two wiped phones to take to Uganda so he began to set one up to use.  We did a “find my phone” on Google and the phone was still at Josh’s.  Too bad – he didn’t have time to go and get it and bring it to us nor did we know how he could get it to us since we were already past security.  Josh said he’d look into how much to ship the phone to us at one of the hotels in the Middle East but it probably won’t be worth it.

Our first flight was Toronto to Montreal and it was already delayed 30 minutes – ended up leaving at 3:20 instead of two.  Our flight to Casablanca was not until 6:45 pm so we still had plenty of time and we did not have to retrieve our bags before boarding.

As we had over 2 hours to kill, we went to a bar and had a light lunch.

That flight left on time and the long day continued.

For a full gallery click  here.  Enjoy and Happy New Year.

Here is a look at our complete map for Europe 2023 (including the summer trip home).

Over 40,000 miles / 65,000 km!