At least twice a year Belle and I jump in the car and travel across to Vancouver to visit our extended family. We are quite accustomed to the drive, knowing the route almost by heart, right down to the last detail. It is a time of great excitement as we look forward to meeting up and spending quality time with two wonderful sons, their spouses and two winsome grandsons. To take the pressure of them, we take out accommodation at a nearby hotel, and join them during the day for meals and socializing. That way we have a greater freedom to do our own thing within reason. In the space of two-and-a-half days, we managed to share four meals, visit the LaFarge Christmas Lights special, do some shopping, play with the grandsons, visit with the adults, and enjoy some time to ourselves. On the way home tonight, we took time to reminisce about our short but very fulfilling Christmas visit. First, this visit might be the last time we will be able to all get together under one roof as one of our children is moving away in the near future. Two, we got to see how the grandchildren – right up close without the help of Skype – are starting to morph into young ‘men’ who are very intelligent, have a great sense of adventure, get on well with others, and are very focused when pursuing hobbies. Three, I got to read the weekend edition of the Globe & Mail from cover to cover – something I normally don’t do because it isn’t my choice of newspaper – only to discover a very clever op-art opinion piece done by a former student in Smithers. Four, we got to see a dazzling light display without having to spend a dime or travel a great distance from our accommodation. Five, we got to eat some incredible food – crab dip, turkey, pan-roast veggies, borscht, sausage rolls, stuffing, trifle, Christmas log, shortbread, omelettes, sausages, cheese, and fudge. Six, we were able to indulge in a little Boxing Day shopping with nothing more in mind than a few small deals. Lots of shoppers milling around with little evidence of what signifies a big ticket item. Great throngs of people all day long at the mall with parking at a premium. Three o’clock, on our way to the ferry, yielded a stunning sight as we passed the Tsawwassen Mills, BC’s latest supermall. Long traffic line-ups right out onto the highway with hundreds more vehicles lined up on the sprawling grounds for a parking space. Thankfully, snowfall did not become an issue in terms of driving across the busiest part of the province.