I’m really looking forward to several visits from family and near-family over the holidays, including a first from the charming Canadian host of our stay in Toronto.
He and B will be here for Christmas–i.e. he can meet the whole clan and decide if he ought to bail before it’s too late– and it will be a houseful again, which I do like, despite the stress.
On his behalf, B asked what he should bring to us, as his hosts, and of course there was only one answer. But first I must digress, to a tale of the year 2001 (pre 9/11 for reasons that shall become obvious), when my best friend came from California for a visit, and we expanded her horizons internationally by taking her across the border to see Niagara Falls.
During this delightful trip, we went up in the Skylon Tower, from which you can see…wow. Everything. I went to my first Hard Rock Cafe. We gambled a bit in the casino next door, and I lost my whole $20 stash. But it was fun doing it.
All in all, a great time, and the last thing we did was stop at the duty-free shop about 11 p.m. to stock up on…well…booze. It is, after all, cheaper. I think I still have some of it. On our way out of the duty-free parking lot, there was a team of uniformed men stopping cars, which we thought was a little suspicious, but we were in a rollicking good mood after the day, so we pulled alongside them and smiled.
“Good evening,” the clean-cut young man said as he looked in our car window and noted how many people were there. He asked how long we’d been in Canada, and we told him just for the day, and his partner looked in the car from the other side.
“What brought you to Canada?” he asked, pen poised to write something eloquent.
My friend Chase leaned over with a wide grin and said, “The cheese!”
He looked at her very oddly, looked over the car at his pal, and I was sure we were headed off to some well-padded institution. He looked back at his clipboard, and then shook his head, wishing us a nice evening before he stepped away from the car.
We left quick before anyone could change their mind. And laughed. A lot.
Today, the folk at the border are much less jolly, for obvious reasons, and we make sure we smile just enough and have our papers ready, so as not to call attention.
But when someone asks what is our favorite gift from Canada….what else could we say? CHEESE, of course.
And with any luck, it won’t be limburger or casu marzu or something…. odd. And no one will get arrested. It’s Christmas, after all. Joyeux fromage, one and all.