Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

Mapping the world, one waxy strand at a time…

Joyeux Noël, Eh?

When I was a kid, I had serious Christmas-envy.

When December 25 neared, I would steal away to my bedroom, secretly hanging stockings for Santa and listening to The Wall’s Rocking Christmas CD.

My Jewish parents were befuddled as I clamored for lights and a tree, and when that didn’t fly, I enlisted my friends for gift exchanges.

Eventually, I abandoned all hopes of a childhood Christmas and decided that I would live out my stocking-ed ambitions as an adult by marrying a Christmas-ite, instead.

Then I met Brent, a religious mutt with a Jewish father and a long history of well-lighted pines under his belt.  We got together in February, were engaged by October, and when December rolled around, Brent made it his mission to give me the best first Christmas ever.

First, he picked me up at my house and handed me a present: a book of cookie recipes.  “Pick out your favorites and we’ll stop on the way home for the ingredients.”

Then we drove out to a farm, where we grabbed a saw and set out into the fields to cut down our tree.  We drank hot cider, picked out a couple of ornaments, and stopped on our way home for a fireplace set.

From there, we made a quick pitstop for groceries and drove back to his house – I would move in later that week and it would become our house – where the halls were sufficiently decked and merriment abounded.

It was perfect.

Since then, though, we’ve had a hard time figuring out exactly how to “do” Christmas.

Some years we’ve gone to New England, but his family doesn’t celebrate until the weekend after Christmas so December 25 can be a bit underwhelming.  Other years we’ve gathered with friends in Philly.  Once we did the traditional movies-and-chinese with my parents and sister.

This year, we weren’t sure what to do for the holidays, and with the franticness of the fall and the end-0f-semester madness, Brent didn’t have much energy for elaborate plans.

So I decided to coordinate a little surprise of my own.

I told Brent that we would be having an adventure.  He would need to bring warm clothes and snowshoes, and we’d have to stock up on good road trip snacks and music.

I got a great priceline deal on a hotel, made Christmas dinner reservations, and scoped out the best ice skating rinks in the city.

And I told a handful of friends and family members where we’d be going.

The problem?

I may have forgotten to tell some of them that it was a surprise.

Fast forward to last weekend.

Laurie, Brent, and I were on our way home from the orienteering meet.  We’d stopped at Wawa for our traditional post-race sandwiches and were sitting in the parking lot, chatting and happily chomping away, when the conversation turned to holiday travel.

Laurie lamented the lack of snow for their planned ski trip to Lake Placid, and Brent and I mentioned the possibility of a New Years Eve Josh Ritter concert in Northampton, Massachusetts.

And then, from the backseat, came an innocent question: “So, when are you guys leaving for Montreal?”

I froze, my veggie hoagie inches from my mouth.

I looked over at Brent, similarly posed.

We burst out laughing.

Laurie had no idea what was going on, so when I was able to speak again, I turned back and said, “It was sort of a surprise.”


So, the cat’s out of the bag.  The beans have been spilled.  The jig is up.

This weekend, Brent and I are driving north for a Canadian extravaganza.

There will be Montreal fireworks on Christmas Eve, Montreal ice skating (and movies) on Christmas Day, and then a few days of exploring in Quebec City before we head to western Mass. for a New Years celebration with Brent’s family.

Bring on the snow!


17 responses to “Joyeux Noël, Eh?

  1. Mallory December 19, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    I’ve never cut down a Christmas tree but I’ve always thought it sounded really cool!! When Santa suggested that, we both laughed and thought that the pony and dolphin would probably happen before the boyfriend 🙂

  2. Gina @ Running to the Kitchen December 19, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Haha! Oh, well. I’m sure he was still surprised, just not on the right day…
    I love Montreal, hope you guys have a blast.
    I had an almost opposite experience as a kid. Growing up Catholic but with a father who was raised Jewish, (he later converted) I always wanted to know what chanukah was like. Although I’m happy now with my pretty Christmas tree 🙂

  3. Johann December 20, 2011 at 2:32 am

    You will still have a blast for sure! That would be a dream come true for me. We don’t see much snow here on my side of the world.

  4. Sarah S @RunningOnWords December 20, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Ooh, I’m with you on the figuring it all out. My mom is Jewish and my dad is Presbyterian, so we did both growing up, but now I feel confused and like I have to pick a side. Have fun in Montreal!

  5. kari @ Running Ricig December 20, 2011 at 8:17 am

    I wouldn’t have been able to keep a surprise like that if I tried. The first Christmas Mike and I had, I gave him his present in November because I couldn’t wait. I’ve actually managed to keep this year’s present a secret so far, though.

    Your trip sounds like so much fun! Have a merry Christmas 🙂

  6. Jill December 20, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Even though the cat’s out of the bag, HOW FUN!!! I’ve never been to Montreal, but hear it is a wonderful city! And at Christmas it is going to be beautiful! I bet it will be your best “Christmas” ever!!

  7. misszippy1 December 20, 2011 at 8:48 am

    The best laid plans…

    How much fun will that be, though? I love Montreal and it has such great areas around it for outdoor activities. Have a ball!

  8. Anne December 20, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Woohoo! You’re coming to my part of the world…yay Montréal! 🙂 Montréal and Québec city are wonderful at Christmas! However, not much snow has stuck as of yet, let’s hope there’s a bit of a white blanket for Christmas 🙂 Also, although you will still have to navigate a few construction detours, it is much better than during the summer!
    Make sure you go up Mont Royal to get a nice view of the city of Mtl…and try to visit the Botanical Gardens (they usually decorate the gardens for xmas) very beautiful 🙂 Whatever you do, Have a blast!

  9. Kristy December 20, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Have a fabulous time! I love Montreal! It’s so beautiful…although I was there in July but I bet it’s even more gorgeous this time of year!

  10. Kate December 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    What a wonderful idea! I’m a little jealous. I’ve always had the traditional Christmas, but I’d love to have the freedom to go somewhere special alone (well, not now that we have kids, but theoretically someday or someday in the past). My MIL would flip out if she wasn’t surrounded by everyone at Christmas. In fact, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if she tried to get my nephews to quit the jobs that have them working Christmas morning.

    Have a fantastic trip, early surprise or not! Merry Christmas!

  11. Kara December 21, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Wow, that last picture is beautiful! That’s almost enough to get me to agree to ever travel to Canada in the winter. 🙂

  12. Angela K. December 21, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Sounds fabulous! Have fun.

  13. Rach@ Girl on the Run December 21, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    I’m Jewish but my aunt (married to mom’s brother) is Catholic, so we got to celebrate Chunukkah at my house and Christmas at theirs…best of both worlds!

  14. Suzanne December 22, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Sorry your surprise isn’t a surprise anymore but I’m sure that will not take away from your Canadian Christmas adventures!

  15. Vanessa @ Gourmet Runner December 23, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    That sounds like such a wonderful surprise – even if it didn’t pan out quite as expected! Hope you guys are having a great time in Montreal!

  16. adventureisoutthere December 24, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    I would have totally spilled the beans, too. I’m quite forgetful and my mouth flies open and I can’t control it :p
    I hope you are having a MARVELOUS snowy, cozy adventure!!

  17. Black Knight December 25, 2011 at 5:32 am

    That sounds like a wonderful surprise. The city looks wonderful in that winter atmosphere.
    Jewish or Christian …. happy Christmas to you and your family.

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