An Eastbournian Abroad with Ashley McMillan: T’is the season to be merry

No escaping the fact that this is truly the time during which St. Nicholas is getting all his publicity. I think he’s just an attention hogging so and so personally. Think about it; who else would dress up in the biggest, ‘baddest’ and ‘reddest’ outfit, drawing glares from everyone, singing ‘Ho Ho Ho’ and have a crack marketing outfit behind him – Let’s face it, there’s no material at this time of year that doesn’t have his picture adorning it! Got to hand it to the big guy really. He’s being doing it for years and to the ignorant amongst us, it looks a pretty seasonal job too! Guess it’s the rest of us that’s got it all wrong!

So by way of showing our gratitude to all that this huge character all dressed in red stands for (or perhaps it’s roots are far more biblical, going back to that wee boy in a barn in Jerusalem..), many of us have been partaking in our office or work parties as the season for this has rallied into full swing. This is the time when many of us choose to let our hair down (around these parts that really is saying something when you consider the somewhat relaxed attitude towards life anyways!) and get into the ‘spirit’ of things. For some, the trick is not getting too much ‘Dutch courage’ in us and being a little too bold in our thoughts and comments where our bosses are concerned. Hopefully everyone has had a blast, managed to let off a bit of steam and will still have a job to attend the next day (It happens guys!).

As for Whistler, well, the Xmas decorations around the pedestrian village have been slowly going up now for a good few weeks (It’s a monster job!), they’re still going at it and will be for a while yet. Nothing beats the feel though around Xmas here when all the beautiful white landscape, rooftops, trees, etc are lit up with the huge amount of decorations (perhaps not quite as garish as this may sound – I guess tactful would be a better word!). It really is like a scene out of Disney, just as idyllic as you’d imagine it! Hopefully we shall have our brand new outdoor skating rink ready to cut up by next weekend, just in time for the masses of the holiday season – well done guys! It’s only costing a cool ½ million dollars, but who’s counting, eh?! One’s thing for sure though, whatever the allure, whatever the magic, it continues to draw the families and crowds in their thousands each and every Xmas and New Year period as they all come in search of their magical white Xmas and their perfect winter retreat.

As if to further the mood around here, this coming weekend sees the parade of Mr & Mrs Nicholas’ all dressed in their pretty red outfits as they wait patiently in line to be amongst the first to get up on top of Whistler mountain. This is the one picture that must surely shatter any little kids illusion that their really is a ‘Santa’ (some mean spirited individual told me this!) as they see a hundred or so individuals all laying claim to being ‘Santa’, with their prize being a ‘free’ day’s skiing or riding on our beautiful hills. T’is quite the sight though to see all the characters ripping up the hills.

For many, this truly is their magical trip of a lifetime, well, this year anyway. Every detail and activity is meticulously planned, extra curricular activities such as sleigh rides and fondue dinners, moonlit snow tours and restaurants are well and truly booked up. Yet despite what is obviously a busy time for most to appreciate, it never ceases to amaze when the Mexican family of twelve want you to find them a dinner spot at the most popular restaurant at a moment’s notice. Evidently things operate a little differently where some people come from!

So for those of us in town not spending the holiday period with our families, many will choose (work schedule allowing) to spend it with their ‘adopted support family’. Friends will group together to cook and muster a Xmas dinner to die, perhaps that should read ‘dine’ for. Someone will be in charge of the turkey; others will bring the veg, dessert, etc, etc. It works somehow, but not usually until a few lines or laps have been skied on the slopes first, just to start Xmas day off in the proper fashion it should be around here. The Christmas gift that just keeps on giving – Ullr and his gift of 6+ months of snow.

I for one will be working some of the 25th, meaning I’ll get to share it with a good many individuals and families that get to appreciate my colleagues and me in the hospitality industry. We’ll be ‘Ho Ho Ho’ing’ throughout the lobbies and offices and although I doubt many will invite us for a breakfast bucks fix or a cup of eggnog, I’m sure there’ll be some joyous individuals, young and old, bouncing around the hotels and village as they ready themselves for some turns in the powder, perhaps on their new ‘toys’ or perhaps simply in search of some local Xmas cheer that the bars and restaurants will be only too glad to pour.

Although a little early, I’ll raise a glass to you all and send our very best wishes from here in BC, Canada. I’m sure that despite the hundreds of skiing Santas over here, the ‘real deal’ will appear meticulously on cue as always, down your chimney (or gas fireplace perhaps..?) laden with the gifts and well wishes from family and friends. So here’s to each and everyone of you, let’s not forget those who can’t be with us and hope its been a fruitful and successful year with many more to come. Every single day is another blessing, let the good times roll!