A New Canadian Christmas Tradition

Christmas is more than an idea, belief, or calendar date; it’s a universality that extends into the far reaches of the imagination, anchored in transcendent thought and feeling.  A return to innocence and magic the holiday season renders pure spirit, when Canadians come together to behold a lighter rendition of ourselves and feast upon the world with childish wonder.  Society revives in a decadent display of festive holiday cheer, local and small businesses extend themselves to give back to their communities by charitable means and provide services that encourage homespun creativity, fellowship and association, while neighbourhoods put Christmas in the air by seizing it first in their hearts.

As we lean back in a deep collective sigh, admiring the glow of the Christmas tree as it blooms from within, we are reminded of its profound state of mind - the notion of simple extravagance by which we are truly rich indeed: family, friends and the utter joy of human experience (the crunch of snow underfoot, the peaceful calm and beauty of a winter flurry, the radiance of a blazing hearth, hot breath upon a chilly air, the sparkle of dancing lights, the awakening of senses…)  However rising concerns over the recent global economic crisis, foreshadowing the possibility of a double-dip recession throughout the developed world, does little to encourage jovial toasts and bursts of spontaneous laughter.  Instead it stands as a reminder of what we must hold close, cherish and preserve this holiday season: the think-tank of Canadian-ism, inspired by communities and businesses across Canada.

Local and small businesses (which account for roughly 48 per cent of the private-sector labour) are the engine-force of this country, as they propagate the wants and needs of society by reinforcing strong, healthy communities in which to raise our children, accommodate our youth and provide for our elders.  Local and small businesses account for an enormous portion of the Canadian economy, with a quarter producing goods and the rest providing services, they reflect the true inner workings of culture, whilst integrating a broader consensus within the hearts and minds of Canadian families.  However, the global financial crisis has tightened access to the kind of credit and loans these businesses rely on for their livelihood, and there is a growing concern over short term viability, which will become a serious problem in the near future should sources of credit dry up.  Indeed, many local and small businesses have felt the negative impact from the current economic environment.  It’s more important now than ever to rethink our Christmas shopping, by accommodating and supporting local businesses and communities.  Let’s begin to rebuild and strengthen Canada’s economy from the grassroots.  Buy Canadian.  Shop local.  Gift certificates to ma and pa businesses, locally-run and operated restaurants, ski lift passes and day passes, hair salons or barber shops, car washes and detail shops, gym memberships, home repairs and maintenance or house-cleaning services, golf course memberships or certificates, dog-walking and grooming services, children’s daycare, babysitting, computer repair, local craft, jewellery and boutique shops, art galleries, local pottery and artisan stores, community theatre  and live shows at local venues… this Christmas we can all buy local and buy Canadian, for we have so much right at our doorstep to inspire!

Christmas is a savoured gift to mankind, one that beholds the world in a softer and more beautiful vision, therefore it’s imperative we uphold such revelation by maintaining strong, healthy communities and continue to support local and small businesses that provide us with the kinds of unique products and services which encourage synergistic friendship, reciprocity, intimacy and mutualism – the key elements of Christmas spirit.

-Elizabeth Cucnik


The Hidden Gem of Winter, Apex Mountain Resort Speaks to Snow-Seekers, From 1 to 92...

As with many things in the world, the greatest treasures are often those found off the beaten path - paragons in the white space of the remarkable and unfrequented, to which there remains a quiet refinement.  Apex Mountain Resort is one such treasure.  Nestled in the heart of the Okanagan Valley, a short 30 minute drive from Penticton, Apex is not difficult to seek out and is indeed, anything but usual.   Apex Resort has personality.  Its quaint, rustic, home-spun appeal, invokes a personal experience that inspires a savoring belonging.  Unlike the larger, commercialized, corporate ski resorts, Apex speaks to a more intimate sensibility, emphasizing family, friends and the timeless magic of the season, without the burden of long queues and heavy crowds.  The perfect blend of world-class terrain and accessibility, the peak sits at an impressive 7,200 feet, delivering 2000 feet of vertical in just six and a half minutes, with 1,112 ski-able acres, and a total uphill capacity of 6,700 riders per hour, ensuring quick and easy navigation.  An ideal climate makes for the most incredible champagne powder among the widest variety of trails; from the extensive glades of the Wild Side, to the elliptical south bowls, from the steep chutes along the north face, to sprawling wide open terrain and gently rolling slopes, Apex Mountain Resort captures the indefinite imagination of any snow-seeking enthusiast.  It`s no wonder the mountain has been awarded so many distinctions over the years, including, Canada’s Best Small Destination Resort, Best Weather, Best Lift/Run Ratio, Best Steeps, Best Grooming, and B.C. Alpine Resort of the Year, (to name but a few).  Moreover, Apex is now recognized as the National Training Center for Freestyle Aerials and Moguls, where one can catch Olympic and world-class athletes from around the globe, training for upcoming events and competitions. Hosting a plethora of activities that cater to everyone, from the tube park, to the Fairview hockey rink and adventure skate loop, from night skiing to snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing at the Nickel Plate Nordic Center, Apex has it all.  The resort is a diamond in the ruff, a place of engaging innocence and enduring character that encourages the funky and poignant, the seasoned and savvy as well as the green and inexperienced, in a transcendence of age and ability.  This year, The Penticton Lakeside Resort wants to let you in on the best-kept secret in the world of winter recreation.   We are now offering ski packages for two, that feature two nights stay in one of our deluxe lakeview guestrooms, inclusive of two full day lift passes at Apex Mountain Resort, starting at only $280.00 + taxes, and our All Inclusive Ski Inclusive features an additional hot toddies for two at the Hooded Merganser Bar & Grill, and dinner for two at the Bufflehead Pasta & Tapas Room, starting at only $365.00 + taxes, both of which are available until April, 2012.  Call for details and bookings at: 250-493-8221 or toll free at: 1 800-663-9400. Experience one of the world’s greatest hidden treasures today!

-Elizabeth Cucnik

Remembering The Meaning Of Remembrance

Remembrance Day is about remembrance.  But what exactly are we remembering?  Officially, November 11th is a Canadian public holiday, commemorated by the Commonwealth countries in remembrance of all those who have lost their lives in the line of duty since the Great War.  World War II, Korea, Vietnam, The Gulf War, Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, the Invasion of Iraq in 2003 and most recently, the Libyan Uprising, are all included in a collective acknowledgement.  War is a central theme to the institution of Remembrance Day, but Remembrance Day is not just about remembering a timeline of war, nor its distinctions and details.  It also reminds us of the seed of war, surging in the hot and dense state of our early universe, before it spontaneously burst across the heavens in a thunderous rage of fury and might - creating, destroying, building and beating.  It reminds us of our own peaceful and war-ravaged creation and the very germ from which we sprung.

Remembrance Day is a motion that emphasizes the human in humanity.  An unyielding reminder of mankind’s universality, Remembrance Day creates history just as much as it pulls the rug out from under it. It stands as an annual indication of our pressing mortality, slinking sneakily in the shadows of Man’s epic struggle and loneliness.  Like leaves which fall to the ground with the changing of seasons to cover the earth with a blanket of decay, the years of mankind’s collective history is the mulch of our future.  Remembrance Day, is simply a walk through the leaves; history is its compost.  And so we remember…

Independent of epoch or culture, we remember the human condition – constant, universal, innate - it subjugates any linear timeline of sociocultural evolution, bringing into question the relevance of history among the backdrop of Flanders Fields.   Emblems of the common humanity, poppies symbolize the dreams of our unconscious by their opiate properties, and our life, death and resurrection by their blood-red colour.  White poppies, born in peaceful protest by the pacifist hand of the hopeless romantic, in dissent and denial, they undermine the human condition by disassociating themselves from the militaristic aspects of Remembrance Day with the meaning of a hope to end all wars.  This dichotomy of red and white tears at the very heart of our civilization, as humankind remains both full of the red fire that creates and destroys, and the white wash of peace that wants for nothing.

And so, Remembrance Day is more than, O Valiant Hearts, the sounding of The Rouse and the wearing of red and white poppies.  It is a beacon within the dark abyss of human evolution, a marker in no man’s land, speaking of an experience within which we can dream, fail, and continue to survive.  And when we stand in salute for the Royal Anthem of Canada, we sing, “God Save Mankind from Man” while the Queen disappears into history before the veterans march past.  Like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we are nameless, faceless, everyone and everything, echoing its inscription within the context of our own convictions, “The Lord Knoweth them that are his, Unknown and yet well known, dying and behold we live.”  Yes.  We remember.

-Elizabeth Cucnik