I hope that I am not betraying my Alberta roots (or compromising future visits to friends and relatives in Edmonton) by sharing Alberta’s best kept secret: Christmas in November. This weekend-long event held at the fabulous Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge (JPL) was the Most! Fabulous! Weekend! Ever! Which leaves me with three questions: (1) Why have I never heard of this event before? (2) Why doesn’t every destination hotel host an event like this one? and (3) How can I swing a trip there again next year?
After driving through the park (passing two herds of bighorn sheep enroute) we arrived at the fully and festively decorated JPL. Sunshine, sparking snow, stunning views of snowy peaks and an entire army of red-coated bellhops to open doors and to whisk us to our lakeside cabins and back in decorated minis. Every single meal was an event in itself. Gush, gush, gush. Fabulous food, unlimited drinks, catching up on two-years of meaning-of-life conversations (inspired perhaps by the unlimited drinks), laughter, dancing and fun.
But the best part? The sessions. The weekend featured a series of presenters giving talks on holiday entertaining, cooking, decorating, crafts, chocolate. When it comes to Christmas I am normally on the grinchy side and am inclined to just say “NO!” to kitschy crafty Christmas crap, but Christmas in November turned things around for me. You might even say it was life changing.
Every session we attended was good, but hands down, my friend Lorin and I liked the “Behind the Scenes” tour of the Fairmont greenhouse the best. Sue Dunn and Marna Praill, former and current Head Gardeners at the Fairmont JPL shared their decorating ideas, contrasting Sue’s earthy and practical “potting shed chic” with Marna’s elegant and bling-y style. By the end of the session both Lorin and I (neither of us are what you would describe as “crafty”) were buzzing with inspiration. Tree tassels, french wreathes, and kermit balls are all things I can’t wait to try, and I now know how to add “vertical interest” to Christmas urns.
On the way home yesterday we even stopped at Michaels to buy iridescent adhesive rhinestones to bejewel our Christmas wreaths and wine glasses (thanks to “Saint Nic” Manojlovich for that idea). I’ve already bought branches of red berries inside, planted my paper whites and made a festive recipe from my new recipe book. CHRISTMAS HAS ARRIVED!!!