Archive for December, 2008

24 Dec 2008

Posted by under Family

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas!!

It’s after 11:00pm on Christmas Eve and the children are (finally) snuggled down in their beds… I’m not sure that they’d even recognize a sugar-plum if it fell on them.  I don’t suppose I would, either.

Nonetheless, the excitement of anticipating Christmas has been very recognizable as we have adjudicated debates over whether it is proper to count today when discerning the number of days left til Christmas Day.  Now that the house is quiet, I’ve a moment to count the days since last Christmas and to be thankful for all of them.  We’ve had our ups and downs this year, as every family does, but looking back over 2008 it has been a good year.

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03 Dec 2008

Posted by under Dave's Thoughts,Family

Sinterklaas 2008

Christmas is fast approaching and one of the sure signs that there just aren’t enough shopping days left is the annual “Cousins Christmas Bash”.   Just as we did last year, all of the Langendoen side of the family met for a weekend-long pre-Christmas get together to coincide with the Dutch Sinterklaas.  In years past, we would gather at one of our houses (usually on Christmas Eve) but recently the crowd has grown too large.  This year we were 22 in all, with 13 children.

We all met at the Banff Gate Resort at Dead Man’s Flats, rented 4 chalets for two nights and took over the resort’s lodge for our meals and activities.  Unlike last year we had no snow – it was completely bare.  Not very Christmassy, but a lot easier not to be dealing with boots, snowpants and jackets for all the kids.  It was also nice to see some of the scenery!

The big highlight of the weekend for the kids was placing their wooden shoes all in a row by the lodge fireplace in hopes that Sinterklaas might fill them with chocolates, pepernoten and dropje.  The kids even left out carrots for Sinterklaas’ horse to nibble on.  Sure enough, the next morning the shoes were filled and, while the kids were trying to induce diabetes with all the candy, Sinterklass came walking up the hill with his helper Zwarte Piet.

The kids were pretty excited!  Sinterklaas had his red book with him and looked up each child by name and had a few words of correction and praise for each one according the the naughty and nice deeds he had recorded.  Zwarte Piet looked all too eager to stuff some of the naughty children into a big sack in order to take them to Spain to work in the pepper mines!  Fortunately, all of the kids measured up in Sinterklaas’s eyes and each received a nice gift rather than forced labour in Spain!

We were all pleased to see that this year, unlike last year, the steamship porters hadn’t lost Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet’s luggage.  This year their outfits were resplendent and looked just as if they had been newly made by the most talented seamstresses!

The weekend was a lot of fun, but not without a few unexpected turns.  The kids were disappointed when it turned out that the resort’s pool was closed for maintenance.  The management had made arrangements for guests to use another hotel’s pool. When we turned up at that other hotel in Canmore (10 minutes away), their pool was also closed because the unusually large number of swimmers had messed up the pH balance.  The Banff Gate manager was very good about it and told us all to just head for the Upper Hot Springs in Banff  – at his expense.  With park entrance fees for three carloads of us and 17 swimmers at the hot springs it wasn’t a cheap swim, but I guess they hope we’ll keep coming back as repeat customers!

It was another great weekend together with all of the cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents, lots of fun and good food was had by all.  You can also check out my sister-in-law Carla’s blog for another description of all the fun.

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