That means lots of hugs and kisses, but also specially-packed goodies like European chocolate, Irish-language books, and some favourite children’s clothing labels. The luggage wasn’t empty for long, though — our visitors loved bulk-buying in Costco, although it might take them a while to get through those industrial-sized bottles of maple syrup!
My family is full of storytellers, who were only too happy to take over bedtime reading for a few nights. Our new little Canucks were rapt each night hearing the fairytales and legends of their Celtic ancestors. Our eldest boy is a big fan of Gráinne O'Malley, the legendary pirate queen of 16th century Ireland — given his dexterity in the water, perhaps there’s seafaring in his future someday.
We celebrated lots of birthdays together, which meant baking cake after cake…together with my three little sous chefs, who were mostly concerned about who would get to lick the spoon! We also took the opportunity to explore more of our provinces while we had visitors. We travelled through Calgary, and then on up towards Jasper. Canada’s national parks are breathtakingly beautiful, and we had a magical few days riding gondolas and steaming ourselves in hot springs. They can be costly places to visit, but there was plenty of opportunity for treats along the way, with hotdogs, brisket burgers, and even a plate of poutine. I decided to be brave and take a dip in Lake Johnson, but chickened out of the glacier-fed Lake Louise — we were happier enjoying a bit of lunch while taking in the beautiful view there.
While it was tough saying goodbye to our visitors, it’s great for the kids to know that although we’re in a new country, we’re still connected — and just a plane-ride away. It’s a little harder when they’re young, but as they grow they’ll be able to go back and forth between the two countries to visit relatives, study abroad, or even just work a summer job in between semesters. They’ll always have options abroad, and that’s one of the great advantages of living and travelling abroad as a family.
For now, we’ve gone back to staying in touch remotely. Like many families, we find that Zoom calls with big families can be a little hectic, but letters, postcards, and Whatsapped photographs and videos are a lovely, leisurely way to make sure we keep the connections with home.
Next on the to-do list is planning a trip to Hong Kong, to visit the children’s great-grandmother, who is thankfully still in fine health in her nineties. Mind you, we’re still recovering from the 24 hours of flights it took us to get to Canada, so we might have to wait until next year!