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Christmas in Ontario


December 23rd

We got off to the airport just fine from our hotel in Alajuela and had plenty of time to get some steps in before the plane left. It did leave the gate almost 45 minutes late because a plane left the gate next to us, then stopped right behind us as it had a “door issue”?

Josh met us at the Lester B. Pearson airport in Toronto and took us to pick up our rental (cheaper off airport) and we took him out for dinner.

View of downtown Toronto from plane window before landing – BRRRRRRR!

He did not have the kids with him as they are spending Christmas with their mother this year. It was nice to have some adult time with him for uninterrupted conversation and see that he is doing well. He is very busy working full time, take two classes a week at Ryerson for his MBA and being a dad with 50/50 custody.

Saturday morning, we drove to Kingston in our rental and Josh drove in his van so he could spend Christmas with us. As Doug was not feeling well enough to go to the home where Fran’s mom lives, we dropped him at the hotel and Josh and Fran went to Providence Manor to take her to their Christmas Eve mass there. The residence is a former convent with a beautiful nearly 200 year old stone chapel where daily mass is said. After mass, we brought Fran’s mom over to her sister, Cynthia’s home in Kingston where there were 11 of us for turkey dinner. Our nephew, Alex (24) was there as were two couples who are good friends of Cynthia & Serge’s. Food was great and despite Serge cutting his finger carving the bird and having to go to the ER, it was a good time. He’s doing fine but will probably need surgery next month on the tendon in his baby finger.

Christmas Day the plan was to meet at Cynthia’s around 11 but she called at 9 and said her eldest son, Tony (27) and his wife, Marilyn had shown up late last night as a surprise so if we wanted to see them, to come over then as they were heading back to Ottawa around 11. (unfortunately, Fran forgot to take pictures so none to share!, sorry)

The weather here in Ontario is not to our liking; guess our blood has thinned waaaaay too much. It’s hanging in around the freezing mark mostly, hovering up and down but it did hit -7C and we find it very cold and it doesn’t’ help that we really don’t have the right clothes for it. We went for a walk one afternoon and Fran, who almost NEVER wore a hat all the time she lived in Canada, found one hat wasn’t enough! Even her hood didn’t help. This is inhumane!

Mid afternoon, we went to get Mom and she got to open her presents – this is her with a picture frame her great grandchildren decorated

and she joined us for Christmas dinner and no fingers were cut during the carving of the Christmas duck; this time just family for dinner.

Mom, Cynthia, Josh & Serge

That’s Alex, our nephew and Fran’s godson on the right.  He attends Carleton U in Ottawa and is doing his Masters.

Boxing Day, Josh wanted to check out a few stores for sales; it was COLD out with freezing rain and we stood outside the Costco doors while they iced the sidewalk – yikes!

and then Fran visited her Mom at the manor for the afternoon. That evening the three of us went to the movies; we saw The Passengers; it was good.

Dec 27th, Fran drove Serge & Cynthia to the airport for their holiday vacation to Jamaica and then we “moved” into their house for the next two nights while they were gone. Fran visited her Mom each day and Doug helped take her shopping one day (she pretty much gets around only by wheelchair now).

After one last visit Thursday morning, Fran picked up Doug at Cynthia’s after locking up and we headed back into Toronto.

Our rental the morning we left Cynthia’s: (mucho thanks to the person that invented heated seats!)

It was snowing that morning so the drive had some slow sections and having a dump truck driver on the Hwy 400 hit the overpass at the 401 pretty much stopped traffic for a while north of Toronto.  Have to say we do not miss living here (we lived here from 1988 to 1995). The 200m/ 300km drive took about five hours.

Before leaving Costa Rica, we’d found some left over Honduran Lempiras (4000 to be exact!) in our “safe” and although we tried to exchange them there, we had no luck at any bank. We tried at the San Jose airport but the exchange rate was really bad; they offered us $70USD (should be around $170!). So we brought them with us to Canada and Fran tried to exchange them at her TD Bank with no luck. Doug found a few foreign exchange places online in Toronto and called them and found a place that offered us $219 CAD (about $166 US) so we stopped near Yonge & Eglinton to take care of that enroute to Joshua’s place.

Arya and Cyrus were pretty hyper when we got to Joshua’s place. They’d already had Christmas with their mom and now Daddy still had lots of presents under his tree (including ours). (We will add a link at the bottom of this post for the majority of these photos.)

The twins turned 3.5 years on Dec 26th.  They are day potty trained, speaking full sentences with few struggles, are well behaved and play well together on the sharing front.  They can count to ten, say some of their ABC’s, spell and write their names, they love fruit and cheese, understand so much and are at the “why” stage, especially Cyrus.  She is very impulsive and never sits still (hard to photograph) and he is the thinker but also takes longer to get over things.

After opening their stockings, they go to open two presents each. The ferry wings and tutus from Grammie and Grampa were a big hit (we found these really cheap in CR)

and then Hungry hippo game from Great Aunt Cynthia held their attention for quite a while.

They loved their new bathrobes from us:

Friday, everyone came to our hotel and we braved the chilly water in the swimming pool for a while and the kids also had two baths – they only have showers at home so this was a treat. After lunch at Costco with samples for dessert, we went to walk in a mall as it was too cold outside to do anything (for Doug and Fran anyway!). Doug found a free mall stroller that the kids loved as it had two little video screens on which they could play games.

We returned to the hotel for more present opening and after playing snakes and ladders and doing wooden puzzles we took the family out for dinner.

Saturday, Sunday and Monday we spent at Joshua’s house opening gifts each day, playing games like Monkey Flip, Scramble, Leap Frog Alphabet, hot wheels, puzzles,  baking cookies with Grammy,  learning how to use children’s scissors and play doh fun as well as watching a daily dose of “How the Grinch stole Christmas” – kids only get a half hour or so a day of tv time.  We even ventured out one day to play in the snow – didn’t last long but the kids had fun running in the snow, making angels and trying to make snow castles with their buckets.

Tuesday came far too quickly and Josh brought the kids over to our hotel once again. We asked for and got a late check out and the kids enjoyed two more baths before we went to Tim Horton’s for lunch with them for one last Timmy’s treat.

We drove to drop off our car and then they drove us to the airport to catch our flight “home” to Tigger. It was hard to leave them but we made such great memories. Doing the skype thing at least twice a month has helped them remember who we are and they no longer make any fuss when they see us. Hugs and playtime come easy now and it’s such a joy.

Link to photos of the grandchildren on Flickr:

This flight only left a half hour late but landed 20 minutes early (don’t you love that game the airlines play with arrival times?) and we got through customs and immigration without a hitch; didn’t even ask to see our “return ticket” out of Costa Rica which we’d expected and we ready to show our suspended vehicle permit for. We had no issues bringing back our gifts, stuff we’d shopped for and our amazon order.

We arrived at our hotel in Alajuela, checked in, picked up the bag we’d left and pretty much went straight to bed.

Doug was up at 6 to get to the airport for his flight to LA that day; he has to give a training session Thursday morning and will be catching the red eye back Thursday night which arrives early Friday morning (the 6th). He will walk directly to Customs to get Tigger released from suspension and come get Fran at the hotel.