Niagara – Christmas 2k16

Bec rustles.

Not much. Just enough for me to know that its ok for me to grab her with both hands and drag her immaculate self across the bed to give her a ripping Christmas morning spooning.

Don’t use your imagination too much, it was just a spooning.

The curtains are folded over one another, so that our room is dark. Not pitch black, but enough that we can’t really see most of the things around us. That’s the best way to wake up. I am the kind of guy who can sleep for a very long time, as long as there isn’t light. I lie to my body with the use, or lack or light. As long as light doesn’t hit my eyelids, I’m safe from the perils of greeting the world.

The issue is that we are checking out today, so I cant really avoid it forever.

We hear a knock at the door, and Bec jumps out of bed to see who it is. As she opens the door, Drew and Jen are walking down the hall with all sorts of swagger in their step. the knock is merely a notification that we are rolling out and that Christmas day is underway. We pack up and head down stairs, and the receptionist casually says to us “Merry Christmas”, for some reason, it just hadn’t clicked with us just yet. Christmas was here, and we hadn’t registered hey.

I don’t know whether its because nothing about our surroundings is lining up with what we are familiar with when it comes to Christmas, but nonetheless, Bec and I had pretty much forgot that it was Christmas day, or moreso, we hadn’t registered it just yet.

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Gifts and such

We skip breakfast at the hotel. No real point when were going to head to Jamie’s place and tuck into some christmas breakfast with him and the family. We all pile in the pimp wagon, and we’re headed around the corner to Jamie’s place. We’re met with Leelynn at the door showcasing the latest good that Santa had just delivered the night before. He begins to show us his Nintendo 3DS and the sonic game that it came with.

The techno sound track that it comes with is enough to want to fill your ears with lead. Whoever is in charge of deciding the tracks for the appropriate games at Nintendo really needs to reconsider their life choices. We’re chatting, and the constant soul-destroying sound of Sonic catching more coins and hitting boosters wears down the mind and soul methodically and systematically. The awkward part is that anyone under the age of 8 must be biologically impervious to such disasters. When Ben and I suggested that maybe the sound should be turned down, or perhaps all the way off, we were met with complete and utter agreement and compliance.

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Christmas. The real deal.

For 7.52 seconds.

Leelynn thought that as much as our suggestion was a grand suggestion, it wasn’t grand enough.

The volume went back up. Ben and I didn’t need to exchange looks. We need not make a noise. The both of us knew that the systematic degradation of our souls was worth fighting for. Ben piped up, “Ahhh. How about we make it quieter then?”. Leelynn obliged. We met half way. He had the sound track that he wanted, and Ben and I kept the little sanity that was remaining. I mean, we still could feel ourselves slipping into a void of rubber-like mental stability, but at least it was happening a lot slower than before.

This, we can accept.

Leelynn would interrupt his game play with more interest in building his lego fire truck. I can’t remember whether it was Santa who gave Leelynn the lego set, or whether it was Jamie and Alishia, but I dare not ask. I dont trust myself to not blow the whole Santa thing.

Breakfast is a cool mix of Canadian traditions, and international gems. For instance, chocolate chip pancakes. Winner. Doesn’t matter whether you’re African, Asian, Australasian, American or any other ‘sian’, you can’t not love chocky pancakes. But, we were introduced to this cheesy sausage saucy thing. I know I really shouldn’t be, but I am a wierdo about food that looks a bit funny. This looked a bit funny. I chuck some on top of this savoury scone-like thing. I’m seated and its time to put the rubber to the road. I scoop a bit up and lob it in my gob.

The taste isn’t mind blowing, but it certainly is good enough to ease the thoughts that I shouldn’t be eating it. It’s pretty decent.

Post brekky chill outs are where it’s at.

Jamie’s place really isn’t that big. However, it is big enough to not feel crowded. We’ve got 2 and a bit families kicking around inside, and we’ve had more than enough space to be able to enjoy ourselves comfortably.

We’ve tucked into the gift giving/opening part of things, and Drew and Jen know how to sort the family out. Jamie gets this absolute headache of a puzzle from them. Its a little metal ball, inside a big clear plastic ball, which you have to move along this track which is met with obstacle after obstacle that little metal balls shouldn’t have to be trying to make their way around. This is why it is a headache.


The Headache

The entire goal isn’t really to complete the puzzle, rather to see how far through the puzzle someone can get, without actively choosing to sell their soul to the devil in the hope that he may be able to finish the puzzle. This, I feel even is doubtful. Jamie has it in his hands for no more than a minute.

“What the f**k…”, he mutters. Not really under his breath, but just enough that we get to hear his frustration and the lack of pleasure that he is taking in this already. “This is bullsh*t”. I look over to Drew and Jen, and I cannot begin to describe the satisfaction that is radiant across their faces. They try and hide it, like its nothing, but they know that this is what they were looking and hoping for. They got exactly that.

Now, something I was explained among the family relations was that Jamie and Alishia are pretty decent fans of WWE. This, I wasn’t expecting, but I am totally ok with it. Post-gift celebrations, Jamie cranks out the xbox and says to us, “We’ve got Wrestling or Batman”, I assume he’s just being courteous. “Wrestling, man”.

Its game time.

We’ve got 3 controllers, so we shuffle around who is playing whenever someone gets kicked out of the ring. We all settle on playing the Royal Rumble. The Royal Rumble, to the untrained mind is the international G20 Summit, meets UFC. However, to the accustomed among us, the Royal Rumble is a back to back 6-man competition, where you have to fight the other players until they get kicked out of the ring. You choose who you start as, and when you get kicked out, you get to come back in, but not as your original choice. You might be Goldberg, you might be the Rock, or you might be an absolute pleb. Most of the time, you come back in as a pleb.

Jamie has got a bit of an idea as to what is going on, but the rest of us are mashing buttons like your youngest sibling getting flogged in Tekken.

Sometimes, things like up, but by the last 5 opponents, we finally get an idea as to what is going on and what we really need to be doing to win at this game. Then the game ends. I mean, you’ll have someone up against the ropes, and you’ll be mashing buttons, trying to grind them out of the ring, and then for some ungodly reason, this opponent (usually a computer) will just flying scissor kick you in the back of the head and you’re crawling on the ground, with this internal monologue, which goes something like:

“Ffs. This is a fricken joke. Get up you bloody sped. You’re getting your ass beat, and you’re not stopping it”

Nobody cares that you’re the one in control of the character, and that is beside the point. What is happening, is that the console isn’t doing what it’s meant to. It should be able to ignore the buttons that don’t help and accept the relevant buttons as attacks. Jamie stays in with his original character for most the game. Ben, Lauren and I pass the controllers between each other faster than your stutter at your first big speech.

Lunch is on, and we tuck in to all sorts of delicious goodness.


Round 1.

Jamie has the hook up with the drinks, while Alishia has the hooks up with the food. She’s been plugging away in the kitchen, sussing out the food while we have been jamming away in the living room. Naturally, it is only fair that we do the dishes. I get the upload started for Lauren and the fam from the shoot with her the other day, and get my hands on the tea towel to dry the dishes. Jamie and I get chatting, and its great to just have a few laughs.

He’s got this real laid-back demeanour about him. His smile is so great, that his eyes kinda just become little squints, while this grin takes control of his facial expressions. It’s genuine, its real, and I know that it lifts everyone around.

The afternoon is spent how christmas should be, which is a casual migration to and from the drinks fridge, multiple arvo kips in positions previously unknown to men, a walk outside, food, and then food again, games, laughs and 10/10 chills.

This is the real deal.

We kick back with Jamie, Alishia and the family until our time has come. We need to start making our way back to Orangeville. We have yet to get back across the border, which may take a while. We leave relatively early from Jamie and Alishia’s place, and with a certain degree of sorrow, we make our way our the door and make our goodbyes. It was a great way to spend christmas.

We’re in the car, on our way home. We rock up to the border, and the lady that meets us is a cool mix of delightful smiles and genuine christmas spirit. She wishes us a merry christmas, and we move on to the toll booth. There isn’t a single car in front of us. We pull up, and see the sign that says,

‘No Tolls. Merry Christmas’

“YEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSS!”, the whole car erupts with celebration. Clenched fists raised as high in the air at the roof of the car will allow, met with vicious shakes of victory. The toll is only $3.75, but its christmas, and we’re happy about that. We look over to our right, and the bloke in the white SUV beside us is equally as excited. Drew makes eye contact with him, and there is a moment of hesitation as to how much he should continue to celebrate with this punter in sight.

The driver meets our celebration with a clenched fist and a celebratory ‘thumbs up’. Laughter erupts from the front of the car, once we realise that we are not alone in our celebrations.

No more than half an hour into the 2 hour trip, and Ben is hanging for a gargantuan leak. Aunty Jen makes it clear that he is going to have to wait till we are off the main highways. Unfortunately for Ben, that is another 40 mins away. I do my best to occupy his mind with the tragedies of my time when I was working as a door-knocker for charities. When I run out of stories that are enough to distract, I resort to “What super hero would you be?”, “What car would you have?”, Etc. Etc. I only have to hold out for another 15 mins or so.

We get home, and its Christmas time in the Stokes household. We’re mad pumped to hook Ben and Lauren up with their gifts, and to be honest, this is the highlight of the christmas for us. I had fashioned these scrolls by hand and crafted them all together piece by piece. They rolled the scroll out to find that they were now Lords and Ladies, and that they owned a 3 sq foot piece of land in Scotland. They can legally put this on their credit cards and boarding passes etc. I am met with the joy that I was hoping for. They’re both pumped.

But, what they don’t know is that I have attached Terms & Conditions to their Lord and Ladyships. Terms, which include having to do dishes and make dinners for each other on an annual basis on the other person’s birthday.

The real title will come in the mail yet, but they know that it is on the way, and that is enough to keep the excitement levels high.

The gifts conclude and there is all sorts of laughs and excitement exchanged, but Bec and I need to go a prep everything for out journey tomorrow. We spend the next hour or so packing everything, because tomorrow morning, we have to be up at 5 to leave early enough to reach out train, leaving at 8:20 am to NYC.

Come Back Tomorrow,


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