SULLIVAN: There's something special about Christmas on the North Shore

It’s the most wonderful time of the year here on the North Shore.

It’s probably also the most wonderful time of the year everywhere else too, but more so here.

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Allow me to make my case.

Holly and ivy in abundance
Everywhere else in Canada, the Holly and the Ivy are buried under 20 feet of snow. Or exist only in ye olde-fashioned eponymous carol. Here they grow like weeds at the end of the cul-de-sac or along the creeks. In fact they are weeds, so you’re providing a public service by culling the crop and taking home the ingredients for your all-natural wreath composed entirely of invasive species.

Love, Actually
It was like a scene from the Christmas classic movie – set on the Lions Gate Bridge instead of London Bridge. Scotty Minch went out and paid real money for a sign reading: “Bunny Will You Marry Me?” Then he stood in the rain in the middle of the bridge as he waited for Bunny, who works for the bridge management company, to notice him on one of the traffic cameras. As he was probably the only thing moving on the bridge that day, she noticed. And she said Yes! Well, what’s she going to say? No, let’s be friends? After all that?

Of course, Bunny will spend the rest of her life wondering whatever happened to the guy who proposed to her on the Lions Gate Bridge, but right now, it’s the most wonderful etc.

The Lights! The Lights!
I live just down the block from the World’s Tallest Living Christmas Tree. The tree lives in Capilano Suspension Bridge Park as part of the Bridge’s annual Festival of Wattage. I’m not sure it’s actually called that, but it’s an apt description. The best part is that I don’t have to cross Scotty and Bunny’s bridge to get there; it’s just a 200-metre walk and comes with hot chocolate at the turnaround point. This year, I was accompanied by Liam, aged 13 months, who liked the musicians best. He tried to get them to play an encore, but they had to go blow on their hands or something.

The Carol Ships
This is a variation on the light theme, but instead of going to see the lights, the lights come to see you. It’s a tradition that goes back 50 years. Find a vantage point on Lonsdale Quay and watch the boats festooned with coloured lights go by. These days, it’s mostly dinner cruise boats and tourists from Saskatchewan, boggled by the idea of open water in late December.

Ski, Golf, Sail All in One Day
Or is that sail, golf and ski? I get so confused. There’s a local myth that the North Shore is the one of the few places on earth where you can do all three in a single day. There were indeed a few days this month when it was possible. Seeing as golf is the only one of the three you can’t do before or after sunset, it has to come in the middle. But on the day I checked, Northlands, Grouse and Cypress were all open. If you’ve got a friend with a boat, you’re golden. Note that I’ve never actually done this, nor will I ever actually do it, but it’s good enough that it’s there.

You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
The District of North Vancouver council solidified (cemented, ossified, petrified) its status as anti-development and turned down a billion dollar mixed-use proposal to redevelop part of North Shore waterfront. The scheme, which promised to generate between 500 and 1,000 jobs and take in $6 million annually in taxes, was nixed because, as DNV Mayor Mike Little explained, it looked “more like a college campus than it looked like an industrial space.” And it was important to keep the waterfront safe for the sulfur pile. Well, it can’t all be wonderful.

The Night Before Christmas
I’m usually finished my Christmas shopping long before the stores close up for Christmas Eve, as it’s hard to do much shopping after they close. God knows I’ve tried.

So then it’s time to resurrect (I know, different holiday) the revered family illustrated version of Clement Moore’s The Night Before Christmas, and read it to the kids, who aren’t kids anymore and have grey hairs of their own, but don’t roll their eyes … too much. It’s a book. You don’t have to charge it. You don’t scroll. You turn the page. Yes, a real page … never mind.

Merry Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Diwali, Solstice, and Festivus to all, and to all a good night.

Journalist and communications consultant Paul Sullivan has been a North Vancouver resident since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of Madonna.

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