I’m sure that I’m not alone when I say that I think there’s something really special about Christmas time!! As much as giving and receiving presents is wonderful, very quickly, from a young age, I began to realise that having uninterrupted time to spend with friends and family is the best thing in the world. My parents and sister emigrated when I was 17, at which point netball very quickly began to take over my life and dictate my schedule and free time. With a few exceptions, Christmas has always been that time of year that netball tends not to encroach on (training on your own excepted!) and wherever possible I try to make sure that I am spending it with my nearest and dearest.
When I first got to Perth in December 2016 after playing a test series with England, I trained for two weeks with my new team and then spent my first Christmas alone. I literally had Christmas dinner with a stranger! As much as I really try to make the most of the situations that I am in (and that Christmas began my love affair with Busselton) I decided then that regardless of how much it cost or the organising that had to take place, I would make sure that I spent future Christmases with my family.
My last Christmas was AMAZING!!! I met up with my family in Miami to spend our Christmas and New Year cruising around the Caribbean (you can read about it here)! I thought that it would be very hard to top, but in true Francis fashion, we managed it!!
Not that we need an excuse, but the festive period provides my family with lots of opportunity to celebrate. It’s my dad’s birthday on December 6; my partners birthday on December 23; let’s not forget Jesus’ Birthday; and then a week later I celebrate my birthday on January 1! I had convinced Sara to spend Christmas in Canada this year with me and my family and so my family and so we made sure to plan some things that would make Sara’s birthday extra special and to show her that we appreciated her choosing to spend the festive period with us.
When I landed in Calgary, we all headed straight to the mountains as I had booked for us to stay in a condo in Canmore (just outside of Banff National Park in the Rockies) for two night before heading back to Calgary on Christmas Eve. The next day, Sara’s’ Birthday, my parents had very generously, or rather maliciously arranged for Sara and I to take a helicopter ride over the Canmore Rockies (Sara is scared of heights!) for our birthdays!! I have never been in a helicopter before but the experience was phenomenal! Sara took the whole thing in her stride and we both loved it! We then drove into Banff National Park, explored the high street and shops and then took a drive to the Fairmont Banff Springs, which is a beautiful castle style hotel nested at the bottom of the Rockies. After exploring the stunning grounds and wilderness and enjoying hot toddies by the fire in the gardens we took the Banff Gondola up to the top of the Sulphur Mountain to watch the sunset followed by dinner in the Sky Bistro which looks out across six Rocky Mountain Ranges.
As we ordered our food, I was feeling pretty happy with myself for smashing birthday plans out of the park. I was really looking forward to a delicious meal to top off an amazing day when Sara upstaged everything that had gone before that moment and having previously got permission from my dad (sneaks!!) asks me to marry her!!! The whole moment was perfection ♡
FYI moving forward I’ll be using this blog as a live mood board for planning my wedding… Just kidding!! Needless to say, on day two of the trip it was already the best Christmas ever!!