I started this month in Ontario, Canada, visiting family and ringing in another year of life. It was a short trip (there and back from one Saturday to the next), but it was much needed. It was a rarity - a family trip where everyone got along and felt glad to have spent the time together. One usually prepares for a degree of fussiness during family gatherings but, no, this was quite perfect.
One of the lessons I learned was really how Canadian I am. Because I grew up in America, it is easy to identify with that nationality, for all its flaws. I always felt protected with my Canadian status; it was something I could shout out if I felt too exposed as American, but I have not traveled a lot in Canada, nor did I ever experience its education, or legislation, or healthcare, etc. So, I think I always felt like a fake Canadian. It is a lot less superficial than I thought. My great grandfather immigrated here from Russia and had his children in Montreal. My great uncle was Mayor of Brantford for a while. Most of my family is here. Finally, I recognize the brilliance of that fact, and the meaning it carries.
This trip was not action-pact. I read, one book then five. I explored Paris, the new home of my family following an exit from the neighboring town. I bonded with my grandmother's cats and watched outrageous stunts on America's Got Talent with my mom, dad and grandma. I saw nephews and cousins and great-relatives, all still living so near to one another. I went to the land of Justin Bieber, otherwise known as Stratford. I saw two films. And I went to three bookstores.
The 'bonus' of this holiday was a two-night trip to my 'Uncle's'. He has a beautiful cottage in Muskoka and two precious poodles. We made wood-fired pizzas, went out on the boat, and played some strange versions of Yahtzee. It was peaceful, and a special occasion to recognize the history we all share, even when visits are infrequent.
A few photos below - more faces than places for once. What great faces they are!