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The end of #12DaysOfChristmasMovies

The end of #12DaysOfChristmasMovies

I suppose it started on Friday when The Youngest was not at all interested in going to get a family picture taken with Santa OR The Grinch. I sort of pushed back thinking it would be a fun Christmas activity & they said, “I don’t mind taking a family photo for Christmas, I am just not interested in the Santa/Grinch part.” Fair enough.

The entire scenario had a bit of “the beginning of the end” vibes.

We first started our #13DaysOfHalloweenMovies and #12DaysOfChristmas movies events in 2020 when it was the height of the pandemic. I was looking for ways we could celebrate the seasons in the face of no trick-or-treating and, big family dinners & visits to see Santa. The kids were 10 and 12 at this point & they had just had the rug pulled out from under them: no school, no friends, no family, no typical holiday celebrations.

It worked. We watched movies, shared our reviews with family and friends on social media and a new tradition was born. People told me that they looked forward to the kid’s weird reviews of things they had never noticed about movies they loved. It was fun…for awhile.

It’s 2023 now though and the kids are 13 and 15 and have mostly gone back to a normal existence. So instead of a fun activity we do as a family, it’s slowly morphed into a chore. We have slogged through a few movies in the past week and a bit and quite frankly I wasn’t enjoying it and I don’t get the impression Mr. Tucker and the kids were either. So after a busy weekend full of whirlwind activities I announced to the family that #12DaysOfChristmasMovies was coming to an end. We were all relieved.

The Eldest pointed out that we were more of a Halloween family and Mr. Tucker mentioned that there were way more movies for that time of year anyway. He said the Christmas movies seemed to have a couple of good releases a year but that the majority felt like a slog through a low-budget swamp. Fair enough. We still will watch new movies that pique our interest (and revisit some classics!) but not on such a rigid schedule.

What worked during the pandemic when we were all home with nothing to do didn’t transfer well to kids who were older and developing their own Christmas traditions with friends.

This lengthy preamble has a point and it is this: if a tradition doesn’t work for you, feel free to change it. I spent many years rolling the holiday rock uphill like some modern-day Sisyphean Santa and quite frankly, I resented it. My mother did it, my grandmother did it, my great-grandmother did it and I am stopping it. It’s too much work and the return on investment is low. If the point is to spend time with loved ones, then that is what we should focus on, not a rigid standard of how we spend time together. The pandemic gave me a perfect opportunity to switch more things up, which I happily did & continue to do. Here is a small list:

We no longer get a fresh tree: as I became more disabled, the work fell more on Mr. Tucker’s head to drag a fresh tree home and decorate it. Last year we found a pre-lit tree on sale at Canadian Tire and we’ve never looked back. The Eldest was a bit disappointed because she loves the smell of a fresh tree, so I bought her an electric wax melt contraption and some melts that smell like evergreens. Mr. Tucker is happy, the smell of balsam fills the air and we’ve reduced our fire hazards. I do have fresh greenery in the form of a wreath that was bought from a local farm that was a fundraiser for The Youngest’s school. A little bit from column A, a little bit from column B.

We no longer host a HUGE Christmas dinner: Mr. Tucker and I are a> the only people in the family with younger children; b> the main connection between both our families. For years we hosted 11-15 people for a large family dinner. It was exhausting, expensive and hugely unappreciated. While some people helped clean and people brought things, we were constantly inundated with the odd snarky comment and the occasional heated discussion. When the pandemic hit, we breathed a huge sigh of relief and stopped doing it. Now we order Chinese food on Christmas eve to hang out with my dad, Christmas day we eat leftover Chinese food, and Boxing day my stepson comes over and he and Mr. Tucker cook an elaborate dinner together (they both love cooking & my stepson is a sous chef). Christmas is now a relaxing, calm affair.

We no longer do a children’s cookie decorating party: We used to do the Christmas cookie decorating party every year and other friends hosted the Easter egg decorating party, the Canada day party, and the Halloween potluck where we’d hangout and have dinner and drinks before heading out en masse to go trick-or-treating. Sadly, while these were great times, our kids got older and aged out and the parents also aged and didn’t want to do anymore hosting. I have some fantastic memories from those years though! We’ve instead replaced it with decorating cupcakes for The Mission’s Christmas dinner.

I stopped doing Christmas cards: I really thought I would do some this year! I have had The Eldest draw our cards in recent years but you know what? She is too busy being a teenager to prioritize that anymore. Christmas cards are also super expensive to mail, averaging about $75-$100 a year to send out 50 cards (depending on if we used Santa photos we had to pay for and how many we sent out). Again, this feels like a relief now that I have made the decision.

We focus more on Advent calendars than gifts: This is kind of a weird one because it saves us not much money or time but as a family we have decided that a small gift every day is much better than a bunch of gifts on Christmas morning. The Eldest loves a good makeup calendar, The Youngest loves a tea calendar and we all have used book calendars. I find it makes the entire month special for us.

If the holiday season is stressful and full of expectations, I heartily suggest you reject all of that (as best as possible) and concentrate on the parts of the season you enjoy and that makes you happy. I love the midwinter season: I love crafts, good food, friends & family, The Vinyl Café Christmas album and chilling out by the fire with a book and a cup of tea. So I focus on those things and spending time with my immediate family & good friends. Whether or not you do all the things or if you don’t do all of the things I guarantee someone will be disappointed, so you may as well just disappoint everyone and save yourself the work.

Friendsgiving 2023

Friendsgiving 2023

If I was to tell my younger self that one of the biggest hurdles of my adult life was to book travel accommodations my younger self would laugh in my face. But yet, every year there is a challenge.

Back when we traveled every summer with two other families it was finding 3 cottages on one lot (that wasn’t a huge resort with multiple cottages). Now it is that alongside accessibility challenges and an adult who can’t drive as far due to his own disability. In short, a tall order.

But even when I do get it right, I get it wrong. We originally planned this weekend in the early spring and of course I thought I had done all of the due diligence with asking about accessibility. However, every time I ask I learn that I either need to be more clear about my needs or that the owners need to be more clear about how inaccessible their property is.

When I first emailed the place we stayed this past weekend I said that I do have mobility issues but that I can manage a step up as I walk with sidearm crutches and have balance issues. So the owner recommended one cottage and I went ahead and booked it. Sadly, the cottage was THREE incredible steep/tall DIY’d steps up, no railing, and the deck was a minefield of holes where the wood had rotted through. He offered us a smaller cottage with one step but it was on a bit of a hill I couldn’t get down and it had no deck at all. I ended up taking the first cottage and getting up the stairs by sitting on the deck, swinging my legs onto the deck and then using a picnic table to push up to standing. Not ideal but from there the entire cottage was on one level, so…partial win?

But as it turns out, the entire property was pretty inaccessible, the cottages were far apart and on steep inclines and even my able-bodied friends had challenges walking around. There were also no lights on the property and it was right up against the highway. One of the other parents said, “If I had booked these cottages and I had small children, I would be pissed that the cottages were next to the road.” The pictures make it look like all of the property is flat and on even ground & secluded but there was no way to even walk to the beach without hiking up and over a hill, so that was a challenge.

We usually do these weekends for the kids so that they can get out into nature and run around with their friends but I would be lying if I didn’t say I felt a little cheated by the entire property. In the end it rained the entire time we were there so it worked out since no one could really go outside and enjoy the fall weather. Also, since we had the larger cottage everyone came to me to hang out, so again, a win.

I wish that it was law to actually post the accessibility availability for all rentals. Not forcing owners to actually have accessible places (but with an aging population, there is definitely a need for that!) but to indicate how wide doorways are, if there are ramps, if the stairs are to code etc. as well as to mention if the grounds are flat or sloped. I feel like the pictures we saw on the website really bait-and-switched us into renting places that were unlike what was described. A non-accessible example would be that two cottages claimed to have loft spaces but the ladders of the loft were rickety and dangerous and once my kids got up to look around, it was basically a plywood platform. Not the fun hideaway they thought it would be. On top of that, one of our friends had non-potable water and had to run to our place to fill bottles. Had they been alone and all of the other cottages had been rented to strangers…what then?

It seemed to be a mishmash of nightmares but since we were already there we decided to make the best of it. We did end up having a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner that Mr. Tucker cooked, the kids got to run around with other kids, the adults spent Friday night up late chatting and we all got some fresh air and a change of scenery. Honestly though, my favourite part of the weekend was driving there and back. I could have saved myself $900 by just tossing the family in the car and going for a long country drive instead.

Nollaig na mBan

Nollaig na mBan

Through Kerri ní Dochartaigh’s newsletter, Scéal I discovered the tradition of Nollaig na mBan, or Women’s Christmas. Set on January 6th (also see: Twelfth Night, Little Christmas & Epiphany) it is a day where women and men reverse roles: the women go to the pub or have parties with each other for a day and the men take care of chores. It seems to be the most popular in counties Cork and Kerry. I love this excerpt from Irish Central:

Speaking to the Times, Irish scholar Alan Titley remarked that the tradition was most common in the west of Ireland in a litany of different ways. “Most women in west Kerry would have raised five or six turkeys for sale at the Christmas market,” he said. “They kept the money – like egg money – and if there was anything left over after Christmas, they spent it on themselves.”

A common phrase was “Nollaig na mBan, Nollaig gan mhaith” (“Women’s Christmas, no good Christmas”), referring to the lack of plentiful feasts by the time January 6 came around.

Siobhan Fahy, from Ballyferriter on the Dingle Peninsula, told The Irish Times: “But us women would go visiting that afternoon. It was a very simple celebration, just eating a slice of currant loaf in someone’s house and having a cup of tea and a chat, but that was the day you’d do something for yourself and have a rest after all the Christmas work.”

I just find these little traditions so charming because in our modern world we often don’t give thanks in this way, or even have many days to slow down. In fact, it’s been estimated that the Medieval peasant received 8 weeks to half a year off for feast days, a far cry than the 10 days most people in North America are allotted. Clearly, no one would prefer to be a Medieval peasant but I love the idea of incorporating these little regional traditions into the chaos of everyday life.

If you can get a hold of a copy, I also adore Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions. It’s a (US-centric) fictional book on Victorian activities for families to celebrate the seasons and holidays throughout the year.

You don’t owe your elders – or anyone – your presence

You don’t owe your elders – or anyone – your presence

Someone close to me was recently discussing how his parents had hated their grandmother but they had tolerated her under the “respect your elders” rule. It was only as an adult that he learned that his mother was born when the grandmother was very young and that they were raised together as sisters. Then – once his mother learned the truth and had moved in with her “real” mom – his mother was sexually assaulted for years by the grandmother’s partner while she looked the other way. But yet, until the grandmother died, she was part of their lives. When he learned this, he was pretty shocked.

I have seen this played out time and again under various circumstances. For some reason we have come to believe that somehow older people can get away with various cruelties and that younger generations just have to tolerate the abuse. It’s baked into our culture by previous generations all of whom have raised us and know how to push our buttons.

But I am here to tell you today that you absolutely do not have to take it. You can walk away from an abusive relative and if you have children that they’ve acted abusive towards, it is IMPERATIVE that you do so.

Recently, after tolerating years snarky comments, lies and manipulation I finally cut someone out of our lives. While I won’t get into the details, the reality is that for years I had tried desperately to maintain a relationship with this person for my children’s sake. The weekly visits were a huge imposition on our time and energy and Mr. Tucker had to actually be present in the room with this person or else they would say the most awful things to me. But I never wanted anyone to say that I didn’t allow this person to craft their own relationship with my kids. My kids loved them and thought the world of them – until this summer.

This summer they got to see the real person behind the mask when they took my kids on a trip. This person was the adult in their lives who was supposed to protect them but instead they would walk ahead and leave them behind on public transportation and even in airport security. They would pick fights with the kids if they didn’t give them their picture postcard Kodak moments. They lashed out cruelly and said horrifically homophobic things. My kids spent most of the trip terrified that this Dr. Jekyll wouldn’t provide their basic needs. My kids came home terrified with a horrible bout of Covid and this narcissist bailed on our quarantine plan because, they just “were so tired and can’t handle it.” It was heartbreaking when my kids saw the truth because a person they loved betrayed them so horribly.

But it was the catalyst I needed to finally cut ties.

Here is the thing about narcissists and people you let get away with cruel behaviour: your tolerance of it emboldens them. They ratchet up the cruelty and the gaslighting to see how much they can get away with. They are such little people that it makes them feel big to abuse people and get away with it so it just keeps happening. Even if you confront them they will give you a non-apology such as “sorry you feel that way,” and the abuse will stop for awhile. But just as you get comfortable and think that MAYBE, THIS TIME you will be able to have the respectful adult relationship with them that you want, it starts again. It always starts slowly and builds up like the proverbial frog in the pot of water being warmed slowly. The pattern repeats.

The horrid behaviour I can take becomes a problem when you target my kids. In my friend’s situation above, the grandmother was always good to him and it was only as an adult that he learned the truth. With my kids, they experienced the horror first-hand. I just ended all communication with this person. I won’t have anyone treating my children like that.

Of course, in true narcissist fashion, I received an email last week from this person. No, not accepting blame and apologizing. That’s what a normal person who wrongs someone does. Instead, the email was basically three paragraphs about how they were disappointed that I don’t provide them with the perfect familial experience that they feel they deserve. Then they tried to guilt me into allowing them back into our lives. Rinse, repeat.

I replied with pointing out that if my kids want to have a relationship with them, they will reach out. Until then, I am blocking all of their methods of contacting me and I don’t want a relationship.

It’s absolutely heartbreaking when it comes to this. I’m actually sad that they will miss so much of our milestones as a family because they are so obsessed with controlling and manipulating people. Yes, they lie to us – but they lie to themselves more, crafting a victim narrative and denying their involvement in situations even when there have been many witnesses who refute their claim. Alone and sad, they cling to the behaviours that don’t serve them, alienating friends and family.

The truth is though, it’s not my problem anymore. They need to do the work and I think we are way past the point of that happening.

So if I have words of wisdom for you, it is this:

No one is perfect and of course we are all different so we will argue, not agree, and generally live our lives differently than other people may. Be as tolerant as possible of people’s differences.

Yes, you can tolerate behaviour from less enlightened older members of your family who may not “get” it. Make those conversations off-topic. But that only applies to some topics. Don’t accept abuse and gaslighting.

Create boundaries and make them clear and non-negotiable.

If multiple people tell you that you are wrong, you are probably wrong.

You don’t need to respect your elders if they don’t respect you. Everyone deserves respect.

Guilt is never a good reason to do something.

You don’t owe anyone their ideal of “family.”

If it harms you, you should consider not exposing yourself to that behaviour.

If it harms your children, you should absolutely protect them at all costs.

We never got to Jamaica & other updates

We never got to Jamaica & other updates

I realize that I posted a life update on September 21st, 2021 and haven’t followed up since. My goal to be a better blogger has not come to fruition. Besides, all the kids are on tiktok these days and I am going in the opposite direction and staying off of most social media. Here is a synopsis of the past year or so:

We ended up going to Puerto Rico: the direct flight we had booked to Jamaica changed so many times that it ended up becoming an over 24 hour flight with various stops. We discussed it with our friends and made the decision to pull the plug and instead planned a trip to Puerto Rico. Both families have been there before and we found a nice hotel on the southwest coast far from the maddening crowds. Covid made travel an absolute nightmare but we have stories for days and isn’t that what travel is all about?

Mr. Tucker started a new job: he heads up a new team now and with this new job came a small pay raise. So once again we have reversed course and are in super saver mode except the new raise covers our increases in spending money and groceries. That’s good because inflation has made it more expensive anyway.

We are still on track to pay off our mortgage in 2023: this is very exciting because we did manage to make our prepayment this year. It was looking dicey there for awhile because Mr. Tucker needed major dental surgery and…

We put in a walk-in bathtub: it was getting more and more dangerous for me to use a step-over tub and a bath chair so we bit the bullet and had a walk-in installed. It was incredibly expensive but we managed to not go into debt to do it.

We did more weekend roadtrips & didn’t rent a cottage: I have to be honest, I love staying home all summer. We bought a house with a pool for a reason and that reason is that I spend every great summer day swimming. Besides, we got to see a lot of friends for backyard hangouts.

We had a good run camping or renting cottages with friends when our kids were younger, it was more for the kids to run around with their friends than for us to enjoy. Now that they are older, they don’t enjoy it as much themselves. So it made sense to put this particular tradition to rest.

We did manage to get use out of our Canada’s Wonderland passes though! We went May 24 long weekend and Thanksgiving weekend – where we also went to Medieval Times. Is it absolutely cheesy? Yes. Did we all love it? Also, yes. We won’t renew them again as the deal isn’t as good as the pandemic restrictions let up but I am glad we did it. We still do have amazing plans for next year’s roadtrip.

I did rent a cottage in Prince Edward County with my friends from book club and had a wonderful weekend. Instead of booking an expensive wine tour a friend drove us to various wineries and it made for a fun, inexpensive weekend.

We had more local outings during the holidays: we did a lot more holiday-themed local events both last year and this year. During Halloween we went to various local farms to experience their haunted houses and we did a local Haunted Walk with friends as well. For Christmas last year we did a drive-thru light show and saw The Nutcracker. Of course, we kept up with our two traditions: October’s 13 Days of Halloween Movies and 12 Days of Christmas Movies in December. We had planned a small Winter Solstice event but was thwarted by Omicron.

We’re still gardening: we haven’t got better at it though. Still, it’s a fun hobby and I enjoy watching the garden change over the summer.

Health: I had a particularly awful fall in the late spring which took a long time to heal & made me make the decision to not paddle with my dragon boat team this year. I also have not kept up with a regular exercise routine outside of swimming in the summer. This is something I need to refocus on. I lost a lot of confidence with the fall but conversely I have added supplements to my routine that have reduced my spasticity & made my skin issues more manageable.

As 2022 comes to an end Mr. Tucker and I are working on some big goals to tackle in 2023. I feel like this deserves its own post, which I will tackle closer to the end of the month. Until then, we are gearing up to enjoy yet another Christmas season as a family and will hopefully be able to have a small Winter Solstice celebration with friends.

Some traditions deserve to be broken

Some traditions deserve to be broken

Mr. Tucker and I have covid so we’re taking precautions so the kids don’t get it

When the pandemic happened the holidays were furthest from our minds. Easter was the first holiday after the lockdown started but it had never been a huge deal for anyone but the kids. When Thanksgiving rolled around we rented a couple of cottages on a lake, quarantined for two weeks, and then met up with another family. If I am honest, it was one of the best Thanksgivings we ever had. The kids hung out with other kids, the adults had drinks & played cards, and Mr. Tucker made an amazing Thanksgiving dinner. After dinner we played games, laughed, and then built a bonfire. Everyone was full, happy and relaxed. After that first one, the past two covid Thanksgivings we’ve used to take a small road trip and do something fun as a family, usually Halloween-related (Thanksgiving in Canada is the second weekend in October) with those same friends. It’s been a nice, new tradition that we all enjoy.

Christmas that first covid year was just the four of us. Determined to make the kid’s holidays still good, we ramped up the activities that we could still do during covid. We baked cupcakes for The Mission, we headed out to pick out a fresh tree, we did our 12 Days of Christmas Movies & we baked cookies and delivered them to friends. We also doubled-down on Advent calendars to make every day of December special and started incorporating Jólabókaflóðið – the Icelandic tradition of getting a book & some chocolate on Christmas Eve – into our new holiday tradition. Christmas day we had outside visits with family and friends (no easy feat in Canadian winter) and then sat down to dinner just the four of us. This time the kids were honest: they loved having a relaxed Christmas. We spent the day in our PJs and watched movies and they loved it. They hated having to dress up and sit around watching the adults talk about boring things so this was a change they really enjoyed.

I loved it, too.

I loved it for different reasons than the kids did. Because we were the only people in the family with young kids, we’ve always hosted. That has meant 13-15 people for dinner, including my divorced parents. For various reasons, it’s always been stressful and chaotic but we always did it because otherwise we’d have to choose somewhere to go that would exclude other members of the family, feelings would be hurt etc. So from that point of view, it always made sense for us to host.

We are heading into year three of Christmas with covid and over the past years I have discovered that I ENJOY a simpler holiday. I love not having to hold myself up to some ideal holiday standard where every moment feels like I’m shoving a square peg into a round hole. No matter how hard I tried to make everything perfect, there were always little stinging comments and judgement or a divisive conversation would erupt. Mr. Tucker and I would shut the door behind the last guest and then feel like collapsing from exhaustion both physically and mentally. It was a lot of work and we convinced ourselves that we were giving our children the experience of seeing all of the family at Christmas and vice versa.

Looking back, I realize now that I can take the things I enjoy about holidays and leave the rest. I grew up in a house where a fake Christmas tree was just unfathomable. But just because our families did it one way doesn’t mean we have to do it that way. We don’t need to take the most difficult path just because, “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” So this year when I saw a sale on fake Christmas trees I pointed to the flyer and said to Mr. Tucker, “Do you think we should consider…” I didn’t even finish my sentence before he shouted, “YES!”

My ideal Christmas has fallen heavily on Mr. Tucker’s shoulders these past couple of years. When we were younger and more energetic I could do a lot more of the heavy lifting but since I’ve become more and more disabled a lot of this magic has to be done by him. It occurred to me that it’s a lot to ask of a man who already works full time, cares for two kids and helps his disabled wife to also be responsible for all the traditional stuff. To be fair, now that the kids are older they can also do a lot of the work and that eases the burden somewhat. But I also realized that we can even let a lot of it go and still have all of the magic. A great holiday doesn’t have to include stress and exhaustion…and you don’t have to have a neurodegenerative disease to say no to things that make you miserable, either!

The eldest was kind of sad to not be able to go and get a fresh tree but when we pointed out all of the benefits, she got it. No needles all over the place that get stuck in your feet, no having to water it all of the time and it spins so no worrying that the dogs will knock over and make a huge mess of water and needles. It’s even easier to decorate because the branches are moveable and sturdy. We still decorated the house and listened to Christmas music – the important ritual of a good holiday, in my opinion. All of the magic, half of the work.

This year on Christmas Eve, we are having my brother and my Dad over for Réveillon and instead of a traditional French Canadian feast, we’re going to order in Chinese food and just hang out and play cards. We’ll then curl up with our new Jolabokaflod books & eat chocolate. Christmas morning will happen when we all wake up (probably late), we’ll open presents, have a leisurely breakfast and then drive around seeing family and friends for porch visits. Dinner will be easy, eaten in our PJs and then we’ll probably watch Miracle on 34th street (another tradition).

If covid has taught me anything, it’s to let go. Let go of relationships that don’t serve me, stop trying to force relationships to be what they never will be, let go of my expectations and stop doing things I don’t want to do just because it lives up to someone else’s preconceived notions or sense of tradition. I don’t think we will ever host another large family dinner again. We enjoy a small, quieter holiday where we’re aren’t pretending that these traditions that don’t serve us are the most important thing. The most important thing will be the holiday will be spent relaxed and together.

This is Halloween, this is Halloween

This is Halloween, this is Halloween

I love everything about Halloween. I love the history of Samhain (being pagan-adjacent as I am), I love marking the passing of the seasons, I love the aesthetic (being goth-adjacent as I am), I love the music, the scary tales, I love the costumes and I love Trick-or-Treating – one of the last vestiges of collective neighbourly behaviour. I love that you can enjoy it on so many levels – regardless of your race or religion – and lean into it as much or as little as you’d like to.

We lean in. HARD.

From the first pumpkin spice latte I consume in September to the end of All Souls Day on November 1st, I revel in the creepy, spooky, scary passing of summer into the beginning of winter. October is always full of activities fueled by apple cider and a good dose of the macabre.

Since in Canada Thanksgiving is the second weekend in October, we have been doing short road trips since the pandemic. In 2020 we quarantined and rented a cottage with friends in order to enjoy the last light of summer near a lake. We had lovely bonfires outside, a wood stove inside, and while Mr. Tucker made a Thanksgiving meal, we all played games inside the largest cottage. It was one of those weekends that just comes together perfectly. There were walks in the autumn leaves, I read a book by the lake and the kids just ran around being kids. The pandemic was in full swing at that point and it was good to just pretend that things were normal, even for a few days.

2020 was also the year that we started our 13 Days of Halloween Movies ritual, which we’ve continued until this day. During the month of October we watch 13 Halloween movies – new and old – and the kids give mini reviews which I share on a private Instagram that only has friends I know. My friends have told me that they get a kick out of what the kids say and my hope is that the kids can look back and have a laugh at how they felt about the various movies at the time. We couldn’t Trick-or-Treat in 2020 so instead we bought the kids each a box of candy started new rituals.

In 2021 with vaccines in our arms but still cautious, we ended up buying seasons passes to Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto. We bought them with the friends we traveled to the cottage with the year before because they were good for 1.5 years. That year we went to the Halloween Haunt for a couple of days where we bought the kids Fast Lane passes and set them free to do what they wanted (masked, of course). So again, for a few short hours they could just be kids again. Back at home, we had them over for dinner on the Monday where we ate, drank, and played games again. It was a great weekend.

2021 was also the year we took the kids to a local orchard who does a series of haunted houses and a haunted wagon ride. It was a bit of a hike outside the city and I was unsure if they would enjoy it but they LOVED IT. I was incredibly impressed by the set-up that had everything from the terrifying (jump scares in the houses) to the thematic but unscary (a Ghostbusters-themed car) so really everyone could enjoy it. We still did our 13 Days of Halloween Movies and went to a local pumpkin patch so that we could pick-and-choose our own pumpkins to carve so that was a fun thing we could bring back again. They also did end up Trick-or-Treating last year which gave them back a little bit of normalcy.

Of course now in 2022 we have almost gotten back to normal but we’ve kept all the little rituals: we went to the Halloween Haunt for Thanksgiving weekend, we did another farm with haunted houses and a spooky wagon ride, we went on a Haunted Walk tour with friends downtown, we carved pumpkins, and we finished our last movie from our 13 Days of Halloween movies last night. Sadly, our friends couldn’t make Thanksgiving dinner because they came down with covid but we had a nice meal at home, just us.

Tonight the kids will go Trick-or-Treating as far as their legs will carry them and as long as people’s pumpkins are out. A neighbour always does this amazing haunted house a few streets over so they won’t want to miss that. Then they will crash after their sugar highs and then groggily get up for school tomorrow.

As for me, I stupidly (smartly?) booked a dentist appointment for tomorrow morning. Other than that, All Saints and All Souls Day are always reflective days for me as I wind down from the chaos of the fall season and transition into the winter one. I generally plan a quiet day of writing, reading, and large cups of tea drunk in front of a fire. This is because I am now looking forward to another favourite time of year: Winter Solstice.