Tag Archives: Christmas

Boxing Day: Then and Now

Recalling my first Boxing Day Blowout extravaganza as a newly minted American expat living in Canada brings back memories of sleeplessness, blurry eyed crazed Canadians standing in minus 25 temperatures and packed parkades at 4 AM. (sidenote for Americans: A parking garage in Canada is a parkade. Yeah, I didn’t know that either.) Contrasting sharply with America, Christmas day in Canada is not for hitting the movies, watching the annual NBA holiday matchup or drinking yourself into a stupor and sleeping until Noon the next day. Preparing for the mad dash known as Boxing Day, the Canadian version of Black Friday, was all that counted.

 My in-laws street in Edmonton

My in-laws street in Edmonton

Arriving for my first holiday dinner with new in-laws in Edmonton back in 2000, I discovered that families hung out with each other all day chatting about insignificant but conversational issues and watched the Yule Log while waiting for the big holiday meal. Strangely devoid of normal music, there was nothing but Christmas carols on the radio even on the classic rock station. Mystified, I opened the door to reach for the morning paper, but learned that the newspapers didn’t publish an edition on December 25th.

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Top 12 foods NOT found in Malaysia (Please send)

Celebrating the spirit of the holidays, Diane and I are suffering through our last freezing cold Christmas while visiting her family in the arctic cold environment of Edmonton, Alberta. Delivering news of our upcoming move to Malaysia to her parents, it seemed only natural to experience ice and snow, break out heavy parkas and remind ourselves one more time why Canadians move to the tropics and not vice-versa. Separated from technology in a wireless house reminiscent of the old days (the 1990’s), I scheduled this post thinking everybody loves to eat around the holidays. Although Penang has Southeast Asia’s best cuisine, I started thinking about the things we will likely NOT find anywhere in Malaysia.

 New York's most famous Neurotic Jew

Woody Allen:
New York’s most famous Neurotic Jew

Sadly, most everything on the list is also not available in Northern California, at least not in its palatable form. Realizing that native New Yorkers celebrate their own original version of food, I compiled a list of 12 lip smacking delicious foods found only at a (non-existent) Kosher/Italian New York style hawker stand. Unclear if that would fly with so much incredibly great other stuff and since the MM2H visa prohibits most forms of employment income, pictures and memories are no doubt the closest I’ll get until my next trip back to Brooklyn.

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Cold: The Final Frontier before Malaysia

One of the many advantages of an unexpected layoff is the freedom to choose your own vacation days and not asking your boss for two weeks off when everyone else wants the same thing.  Concluding the longest year of my life, Diane and I are off to her family’s homeland for the holiday season. With an approaching cold front promising minus 20 degree temperatures by Christmas Day, a tropical holiday with margaritas by the pool is not in the cards this year. Disclosing our plans to sell the house in March and file for an MM2H visa is part of the mission since Diane chose to keep her parents in the dark until now. (No, I don’t know why; I think it’s an Asian thing to keep secrets or something like that).

flames

The Saddledome: Home of the Calgary Flames

Other plans include outdoor ice skating, a Calgary Flames game against the defending Stanley Cup Champions (L.A. Kings), watching my favorite annual junior hockey tournament not available to Americans and rediscovering the fun of an Alberta winter. Radically different from what we plan on doing next year somewhere in Southeast Asia, we figured one last blast of cold should remind us why Canada was not an option for early retirement.

Wishing everyone a healthy and happy holiday season, please follow our holiday posts these next two weeks but please forgive any delays in responding due to our “hotel accommodations”. As first generation immigrants approaching their 80th birthdays, Diane’s parents are not likely to embrace the concept of home WiFi this season so we’ll be relying on Starbucks, the mall and eventually my sister-in-law’s house for New Year’s Eve.

Alberta Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to all !!