Catherine and I arrived on Prince Edward Island in the spring of 1993; our first Christmas Eve here was that December.
We opted not to travel back to family in Ontario for the holidays; thus left to our own devices, we were childless, had no family and few friends here, and were only in the very early stages of acclimation to the Island way of life.
I imagined that we could spend Christmas Eve having a nice meal out followed by a movie.
What I didn’t factor in is that Prince Edward Island shuts down completely about 4:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and so not only could we not go to the movies, but there was not a single restaurant open for as far as the eye could see.
And, of course, we’d nothing in the pantry.
What were we thinking?
(I should add here that all references to “we” should more honestly be attributed to “me,” as Catherine’s head is screwed on much more tightly than mine, and it’s likely as not that our errors in this regard were entirely due to me.)
What were we to do?
Improvising, we headed down the street to the CP Hotel (now the Delta) and booked ourselves a room for the night.
It turns out that even the hotel’s restaurants had the night off, so all thoughts of room service were out and we were left to forage supper from the vending machines. Fortunately we had plenty of pocket change.
We spent Christmas Eve eating potato chips and chocolate bars and watching cable TV – a novelty for us at the time, as we only had rabbit ears in our apartment.
These days we’re much farther along the road to Island acclimation — halfway, perhaps? – and we know full-well that we need to not only arrange for all meals well in advance of the Island-wide shutdown, but that we also need to stock up on milk, eggs, coffee and entertaining diversions.
Our pantry is full this year. And we have tickets booked for the 6:20 showing of Star Wars (the last show of the night). We have dog food.
But we’ll always hold that first Christmas on the Island dear.