Last August my family and I learned the Nutrien Fireworks Festival would be postponed from the September long weekend 2020 to the Family Day Long Weekend 2021. Immediately my family and I started to prepare to attend. The pandemic has already taken so many things away from the children, we didn’t want them to lose this weekend as well. It has become our tradition to attend at least one of the nightly fireworks events in the past and we didn’t want to lose this special opportunity to combine our family celebrations with the fireworks festival.
For me, planning began by thinking of what it is I wanted my children to appreciate about having this weekend of time together. It’s a Staycation, even though we’d be in Saskatoon and, for a delightful change, our trip to “Toon Town” had absolutely nothing to do with a medical appointment. It is a pleasure trip, through and through. And, although it was just me and my family participating in our weekend adventures, people whom I see every day, a change of environment is as good as a tropical holiday getaway any day.
The first part of the plan was to keep most of the ‘special’ things a surprise from the children. It started with contacting Shanon Crook and letting her know my babies are ready for a star blanket quilt. Each of my older two at home already have theirs and it’s important to me that I’m able to find different ways to instill their Métis and Aboriginal culture in their everyday life. In my opinion, culture should be the way one lives their life and not so much about having ways of living being shoved down one’s throat. As an example, just because Métis people seem to be really incredible bannock bakers/makers doesn’t necessvarily mean all Métis people can actually prepare the delicious bread known to sustain Aboriginal people. Some actually buy/trade/barter bannock for fish or other delectable treats. So when I ordered my boys their star quilts, I let her know what colours they seem to like and then I left the task in her hands. She sent it on Wednesday and they were supposed to arrive Thursday … unfortunately they did not. We were scheduled to leave at 1:00pm – and they arrived at 12:30pm. I was ecstatic!
Choosing our hotel was simple. When I had needed to be at a nearby hospital for appointments every other week a few years ago, the hotel we stayed at gave me deep discounts and didn’t even charge me for parking. It might not seem like a huge gesture but it was a savings of $200 every three months. And I’ve had to return at least once a month for the following two years until the pandemic hit and visits with doctors continued over the telephone. Whenever we have had to be in Saskatoon overnight, we’ve remained loyal to the hotel. This visit, the pandemic was on our mind and we wondered if we should risk being outside our home and safety zone. But then we recalled the hotel has a contract with the local airport and is used by highly influential clients as well as families like us. The hotel wouldn’t put people at risk unnecessarily, nor had they volunteered to accept people waiting for test results or who had already tested positive to COVID. All these things influenced our decision of where we would stay while in Saskatoon.
The first surprise was waiting for us when we entered our room. A beautiful chocolate plate the children and we adults shared. Although it was advertised “for two” we all had more than enough to satisfy our sweet tooth. We discussed going to the pool but decided that we would turn on the shower and let the little ones run in and out of it. The shower at home is a shower/tub and the one at the hotel is just a shower with a glass wall – a novelty that enthralled the children, especially the two youngest. This ‘shower’ was a treat for us adults too since the babies usually cry at bath time. Not this time! They loved being able to go into the shower and sing joyfully as they experimented with the acoustics with the door opened, and then closed. We did the same as we closed the door to the bathroom and hoped nobody could hear them out in the hallway! We also unplugged the telephone to prevent more precocious little ones from dialing the front desk needlessly. There is nothing quicker than an 18 month old distracting an adult with a diaper change while the other takes the phone off the hook and dials!
Lunch on Saturday was a treat for the children as they don’t often have McDonald’s, not even at home. Chicken nuggets were the order of the day and all of the children were keen to show off their mini sized French fries – although the six year old was a little put out by the ‘stingy’ fries order. He’d expected a bigger size like the ones he receives when he has the PA Happy meal. Following our lunch, they got to open the gifts we’d brought with us. What is family day without presents, after all? A huge thank you to Reid’s Baskets and Things and Hailey’s Mystery Fidget Kits. The children and adults really enjoyed receiving the gifts I purchased from you. That night dinner was roast chicken sandwiches with fresh fruit and one of the new Buble` carbonated water flavours that was just released. Some of us had peach flavour and others had pineapple. And then we enjoyed watching the fireworks while we also watched online live streaming. The first show was great and I was very happy the babies enjoyed the loud explosions without a fuss. The second show was even more spectacular, due in part to the sun having completely set by the time 8:00pm rolled around. I managed to capture some really great shots of the fireworks and the boys with their faces plastered against the hotel window, excitedly talking and pointing as they enjoyed the show with the rest of us. As the fireworks winded down, some of us took in the livestreaming of the Prince Albert Winter Festival back home. It was really great to hear some familiar voices singing, even if we weren’t able to see their faces!
Sunday was a day of relaxation, talking, playing games, watching movies (thankfully we had Netflix to help the day pass quickly), drinking coffee and just catching up on sleep and the things that make our hearts full when we are with one another. It was really nice to see the older children sharing the iPad with their younger brothers. And when it was nap time, one of my boys cuddled up under his star quilt and went right to sleep. I think all of us needed to have this get away. For the first time in a long time, despite not going out as much as we have in the past, it felt like we weren’t restricted, even though we were. There was a sense of freedom just by leaving our home and staying in a different place for a few nights. But when Monday came, we all just wanted to go home. All the children spoke of wanting to see the dog and my youngest has since wrapped his tongue around our stray cat’s name…. “Pepper.” Once again I’m reminded how quickly our children grow and, if we didn’t take advantage of times like this past weekend, we adults would miss these special moments where we take pictures with our heart and make memories to last forever.
I’m looking forward to sharing more time with family later this week at the PA Winter Festival drive in fireworks and also by visiting the various snow sculptures located throughout the city. It’s wonderful how we can make these memories while supporting one another in our local community. And I’m looking forward to creating even more splendid memories with my family … maybe it will be fishing on the next free fishing long weekend – when we will have warmer weather to enjoy as well.
However you choose to celebrate your family throughout the year and on Family Day long weekend, enjoy yourselves and remember to have fun. And most especially practice to take care of one another.
Take care and have a great week, everyone.