An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: Seasons Greetings from Wintry Whistler!

Awesome shot of Blackcomb - tell me this isn't beautiful!
Awesome shot of Blackcomb - tell me this isn't beautiful!

Of course, no-one is the western world can be left in any doubt. This is St Nick’s most celebrated week, most everywhere. Still, I wasn’t too sure what to read into the sight of Monsieur Claus being driven ever so slowly down the village stroll here a few days back. Should we be concerned that his beloved reindeer were AWOL or perhaps that the sleigh simply wasn’t working, or was it that he was trying to be more carbon friendly having the ‘clean’ fire truck escort him as he waved and ho ho ho’d his way past the stores and checked the onlookers outside Starbucks had sufficiently brewed caffeine in them.

I often wonder what we make of his punctuality. I mean, here we were on either the 17th or 18th of Dec (I forget days and dates with veritable ease when every day is a holiday out here!) and the big guy in town already. Had he got his scheduling wrong and turned up super early? Does he in fact need to start his rounds that early these days as our nations expand and we all get a little greedier with our gift requests – That said, surely we can’t all have been that good?! Yet no matter how early he starts his rounds, he still only just about gets around in the wee small hours before we peel open our eyelids on Christmas day, either from a drunken stupor the night before and / or because our over-excitable kids were not about to lie in on this day of all days!

St Nick getting a hand down the village stroll - not sure if the sleigh broke down or reindeers just gone AWOL!

St Nick getting a hand down the village stroll - not sure if the sleigh broke down or reindeers just gone AWOL!

Now this said, we had our now annual homage to Santa by granting the first 50 individuals, dressed as either Mr or Mrs Claus, free lift tickets to use at a later date. Always a sight to see all these guys zipping around the hills in their full regalia (no half measures allowed – it had to be the full outfit or nothing to qualify!) and always brings a smile to all the kids around, even some of us bigger kids that still eventually managed to get caught up in some of this magical, yet over hyped and overpriced holiday season. Let’s face it, most us do take pleasure in seeing others happy and enjoying themselves!

So to the working numbers amongst us, we accept that there’s been a steady decline in the physical number of ‘holy days of rest’ in our lives in this ‘busy’ world we live in (all started by the major DIY chains back in the UK as my memory serves me!) and most will accept that many of us will find ourselves working right up to and sometimes throughout this festive period. Admittedly, here in Whistler – a town that lives and thrives on the amount of tourism dollars brought in, we are perhaps a little different in our day to day working models and structure. We’re here to service everyone here on vacation. This means long opening hours and in regards to hotels, 24 hour operations (as all reputable hotels should be of course!). So, despite the probability of having to work whilst others are at play or celebrating here with their families, it is often a great, healthy and fun environment to work in. Think about it – everyone in town is mostly super stoked to be here, everyone is full of the festive spirit, they have their loved ones with them and we’re only too happy to share all that is good with them. How hard can it be to be happy, eh?!

For the locals out here, or perhaps more so amongst the prevalent ‘seasonaires’ here for winter, these few ‘holy’ days or at least heavily celebrated festive dates in our calendars, will be a time spent on the ski hills and getting together with friends made whilst travelling. Families will lie hundreds or thousands of miles away (merely a quick phone call, skype call or email in these technological days of course..) and those young and ‘older’ types amongst us will still crave company or goodwill and love from others around them. Not many really want to spend this time all by themselves...chance would be a fine thing at times though...bah humbug!

So, my Xmas day will hopefully look something like this;

Wake early (as usual), email, tweet and facebook, go for a run / stretch / massage, exchange little gifts (apologies here to my fiancé), go for a few quick turns with friends in what looks likely to be a super powder day, head down to the infamous ‘Dusty’s’ for breakfast / brunch, couple of more ski runs before heading back to home to allow others to cook for me (OK, so I may have a bit more of a starring role in this bit this year…) . Anything after this point is all ‘gravy’ as they say. Great day any time of the year, but has become something of a tradition out here.

So, to all of you out there, no matter where you find yourself, with or without your loved ones and friends, know this much – Santa will know if you’ve been good and bizarrely, will always find you…except in my household apparently!

Have a great festive period, eat drink and perhaps be just a bit merry and spread just a little of that festive cheer. It’s amazing just how infectious it really is.

Happy holidays guys!