When we moved to Nanaimo from New Brunswick in 1998, I joined a women’s running group as a way to meet people. Today, I still run with most of them. We started a Xmas tradition “The Jingle Bell Run”, way back when. And most of us in the group have hosted the run making it our own. It varied, it was creative, festive, fun, giving. It was a kick-start to the holiday season. I’ve missed the last few years and that is why this year it’s on my list.
There is something about the simplicity of donning a pair of runners (sneakers where I come from), carrying a few jingle bells, wearing goofy hats and reindeer antlers and singing your way through the host neighborhood visiting the lights and decorations. One year, we bought chocolates and gave it to the most impressively decorated home. Sometimes we rang doorbells and sang. The best year was returning to our hostess’s house and being greeted by her husband dressed in a tuxedo offering warm towels and eggnog. You see why we do this!
Last night we did things differently. We walked to Milner Gardens in Qualicum Beach. We walked just as fast, on account of the pouring rain. Milner Gardens is a gem nestled in the forest by the sea. You could hear the wind through the trees as background to the festive music. There is over a half a kilometer of lit and decorated trails with over 50,000 lights. Some, very creative, made of water bottles that looked like different flowers. Unlike other year’s, we were among lots of families and kids coming out to see the sights, the Gingerbread display by students at the VIU Culinary Arts Program, visiting with Santa Claus and taking in the Christmas wonder that Milner Gardens offered.
If you want to learn more on the history of Milner Gardens, go to the link. It’s a special place and run by volunteers.
I’m glad I got out this year. We all enjoyed a great walk, devoured a variety of foods, and shared laughs from the bottom-of-the-drawer gift exchange. How could I not be in a festive mood?