The Delta Lodge at Kananaskis

Our Christmas was all about giving each other “experiences.” My brother and sister-in-law threatened to take us to the killer workout Ripped but I mercifully got sick and they instead porked us up at the city’s nicest steakhouse. And for The Parents Who Have Everything, my husband Jamie and I decided we would whisk them away on an overnighter in the Canadian Rockies.

Lest you think this was a bit over-the-top, it helped we were already vacationing at their home in Calgary.

I wanted somewhere that was kid-friendly, fairly close and most importantly, had gorgeous views of the Canadian Rockies. Long ago, I had bookmarked The Delta Lodge at Kananaskis as a potential destination. Never heard of Kananaskis Country? Take it from me: it is Alberta’s best-kept secret. While all the other tourists are heading to nearby Banff or Jasper, locals sneak off to Kananaskis’ 4,000-square kilometer outdoor playground, which is just as beautiful but without the crowds and cost.

And yes, I am quoting the size in kilometers. All you non-metric people need to get with the program (and rest of the world).

The Delta Lodge is consistently rated as one of Alberta’s best family hotels and upon check-in, each of the children received a packet of fun Christmas crafts and toys. I really didn’t have an agenda because there is a lot to do in the area with a nearby tobogganing hill, a gorgeous walk along the Rim Trail, an outdoor pond for skating, a pool and spa, game room and Nakiska ski resort, site of the 1988 Olympic Alpine events.

But here’s the deal. It was cold. We were lazy. And The Delta Lodge had already served up a full plate of Christmas activities that we couldn’t resist. We made banana boats and roasted them on a campfire. My daughter wrote a letter to Santa and was delighted to find a response under the door the next morning.

Funny. The only thing they slipped me was the bill.

And there was the Elf Tuck-In Service. IMG 1098

Yes, people. At bedtime, an elf came to snuggle up to my children and read them Christmas stories before tucking them into bed. As I watched my children giggle in wonderment, I had an epiphany: my childhood sucked. Sure, I had love. Sure I had stability. BUT WHERE WAS MY ELF?

But the highlight of the whole trip was when my mom and I skipped out on swimming and played “Merry Christmas Bingo” with Mrs. Claus. I can’t explain it but I have had an unhealthy obsession with Bingo. Jamie banned me from playing on our recent cruise, possibly fearing we’d be in the only ones in there without bifocals and that this was my version of a mid-life crisis.

Turns out, we were the only people in the room without young children. At first, I felt subconscious. What if I actually won? Would my victory be frowned upon by the other children and parents? But then I got caught in the crossfire of a 13-year-old boy’s mini-marshmallow attack. He unapologetically sneered at me. I glared back. And then war was declared.

Rudolph, Santa’s Hat and Wreaths–all these images were on my Bingo card and I became obsessed with covering them with my mini-marshmallow Bingo chips. Mrs. Claus droned on and on until finally, a perfect letter ‘X’ was formed. I momentary paused, savoring the victory yet wondering if I should quietly and modestly announce it.


After all, I have never been quiet or modest about anything.

Turns out the joke was on me. When I went to redeem my prize, the only ones available were for kids 12 and under. I finally snatched up a ceramic piggy bank with accompanying paints, acting like it was just like what I always wanted.

And maybe it was. In fact, I’ll probably even paint it bronze.

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