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Dear Santa: All I Want For Next Christmas is My Own Bingo Set and an Exemption from the Naughty List

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[photopress:bananaboats.jpg,full,pp_image]Our Christmas was all about giving each other “experiences.” My brother and sister-in-law threatened to take us to the killer workout Ripped but I mercifully got sick and they instead porked us up at the city’s nicest steakhouse. And for The Parents Who Have Everything, my husband Jamie and I decided we would whisk them away on an overnighter in the Canadian Rockies.

Lest you think this was a bit over-the-top, it helped we were already vacationing at their home in Calgary.

I wanted somewhere that was kid-friendly, fairly close and most importantly, had gorgeous views of the Canadian Rockies. Long ago, I had bookmarked The Delta Lodge at Kananaskis as a potential destination. Never heard of Kananaskis Country? Take it from me: it is Alberta’s best-kept secret. While all the other tourists are heading to nearby Banff or Jasper, locals sneak off to Kananaskis’ 4,000-square kilometer outdoor playground, which is just as beautiful but without the crowds and cost.

And yes, I am quoting the size in kilometers. All you non-metric people need to get with the program (and rest of the world).

The Delta Lodge is consistently rated as one of Alberta’s best family hotels and upon check-in, each of the children received a packet of fun Christmas crafts and toys. I really didn’t have an agenda because there is a lot to do in the area with a nearby tobogganing hill, a gorgeous walk along the Rim Trail, an outdoor pond for skating, a pool and spa, game room and Nakiska ski resort, site of the 1988 Olympic Alpine events.

But here’s the deal. It was cold. We were lazy. And The Delta Lodge had already served up a full plate of Christmas activities that we couldn’t resist. We made banana boats and roasted them on a campfire. My daughter wrote a letter to Santa and was delighted to find a response under the door the next morning.

Funny. The only thing they slipped me was the bill.

And there was the Elf Tuck-In Service. [photopress:IMG_1098.jpg,thumb,pp_image]Yes, people. At bedtime, an elf came to snuggle up to my children and read them Christmas stories before tucking them into bed. As I watched my children giggle in wonderment, I had an epiphany: my childhood sucked. Sure, I had love. Sure I had stability. BUT WHERE WAS MY ELF?

But the highlight of the whole trip was when my mom and I skipped out on swimming and played “Merry Christmas Bingo” with Mrs. Claus. I can’t explain it but I have had an unhealthy obsession with Bingo. Jamie banned me from playing on our recent cruise, possibly fearing we’d be in the only ones in there without bifocals and that this was my version of a mid-life crisis.

Turns out, we were the only people in the room without young children. At first, I felt subconscious. What if I actually won? Would my victory be frowned upon by the other children and parents? But then I got caught in the crossfire of a 13-year-old boy’s mini-marshmallow attack. He unapologetically sneered at me. I glared back. And then war was declared.

Rudolph, Santa’s Hat and Wreaths–all these images were on my Bingo card and I became obsessed with covering them with my mini-marshmallow Bingo chips. Mrs. Claus droned on and on until finally, a perfect letter ‘X’ was formed. I momentary paused, savoring the victory yet wondering if I should quietly and modestly announce it.


After all, I have never been quiet or modest about anything.

Turns out the joke was on me. When I went to redeem my prize, the only ones available were for kids 12 and under. I finally snatched up a ceramic piggy bank with accompanying paints, acting like it was just like what I always wanted.

And maybe it was. In fact, I’ll probably even paint it bronze.

What were your favorite Christmas moments?

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  • comment avatar Shana January 5, 2009

    That sounds like so much fun. I have been to Jasper but not to Kananaskis.
    You will have to post a picture of your painted piggy bank when you are finished painting it!!!

  • comment avatar Terra January 5, 2009

    What fun and funny! sounds like something the whole family will remember for ever!

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson January 5, 2009

    Yep, Kananaskis is definitely on the must-visit list if you’re ever in Alberta. And I may just bronze that piggy bank today. πŸ™‚

  • comment avatar Kassie Bunting January 5, 2009

    I want to go there for next Christmas. And I need to hire one of those elves for every evening…

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson January 5, 2009

    Hear, hear on the elf tuck-in service EVERY night! Though I love the snuggling part of our bedtime routine, I hate getting the kids ready for it.

  • comment avatar Liz January 5, 2009

    I love Kananaskis we used to go there for picnics all the time when I was a kid, great memories!!

  • comment avatar Melissa January 5, 2009

    That sounds like a lot of fun!
    I don’t have a Christmas that really stands out… we do the same thing year after year… hmmm… perhaps we need to shake things up a bit for next year, eh?

  • comment avatar wendy January 5, 2009

    What an awesome lodge. Toboggan run, ice skating and ELVES! Wowza! and all we did was sit next to a couple of turtles on the beach, and boogy board until we were all a little sunburned…

    next year we’ll be back to the snow…

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson January 5, 2009

    Wendy, I can’t feel too badly about your Christmas in Hawaii. πŸ™‚

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson January 5, 2009

    Melissa–I’m all for shaking things up. Maybe it’ll be Hawaii next year? πŸ™‚

  • comment avatar Paige January 5, 2009

    Oh, how fun! I love Bingo, too. And I think Elf tuck in service sounds like a fantastic thing.

  • comment avatar Guinevere Meadow January 5, 2009

    I’m not sure I’d want a strange elf coming to tuck my children into bed…

  • comment avatar Amber Johnson January 5, 2009

    Jamie was thrilled it was a cute girl. Me? I was hoping for a strapping, muscular male elf. πŸ™‚

  • comment avatar Lauri January 5, 2009

    see, I totally get why we get along! I love bingo too! And nickel slots. My husband just doesn’t get it. I don’t care if I win~ I have to keep playing. I actually LIKE playing!
    Sounds like a delightful vacation!

  • comment avatar Laura Moffitt January 5, 2009

    This trip of yours sounds amazing and I have to agree my childhood sucked no Elf’s and I never got to play bingo with Mrs. Claus. Bummer. My favorite memory was probably playing ping pong with my six year old niece who has a wicked serve which smacked me square in the back of the neck on one of the serves.

  • comment avatar Momma, The Casual Perfectionist January 5, 2009

    What an awesome experience for all of you!! That sounds like so much FUN!

    One year, Santa gave the four of us (me and my siblings) a combined gift. He hid clues to our “big gift” all over the house. When we got one clue right, it led to another clue which led to another clue, etc. It was great…but not quite up there with being lulled to sleep by elves. LOL!

  • comment avatar yvonne January 5, 2009

    What a fun “experience”–and elf tuck-in service to boot!!!!!

    I’m so glad you had such a great time–I’ve been to Banff and Jasper, but I haven’t been to Kananaskis. Sure do love the Canadian Rockies ; )

  • comment avatar Karla January 5, 2009

    I traveled just North of you today. Too bad we weren’t here at the same time. We’re heading to the Canadian Rockies tomorrow. Happy to hear you had a fun and lovely vacation!

  • comment avatar Lauren in GA January 6, 2009

    That place sounds so amazing! You make me laugh, “WHERE WAS MY ELF?” You are so right, girl…love and stability are so overrated.

    Congrats on the Bingo win!

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