New Year's Tea

The New Year is always a reason for change. It’s always a reason to do something differently than you’ve done before. It’s a time when people hold to ages-old traditions, and make efforts to start new ones. It’s a time to look back on the past, and look towards the future.

And frankly, it’s a darn good reason to make a little trip out to Banff to see old friends.

Internet phenom Twitter really hit it big in 2009. (I would like to say I knew about Twitter from the beginning, but held off on getting account until the Web 2.0 conference in 2008.) Coincidentally, it was a time when many other people joined Twitter, bringing it to the masses and making it the media darling it has become. It also allowed previously ordinary people and/or small groups to become much more visible on a person-to-person level.

This is how I came across my old friend, Sonny Jelinek.

Sonny and I go way back. And I mean “way” as in “preschool”. We both went to St. Cuthbert’s preschool, back in the mid-1970s. We went to the same kindergarten, elementary, mid, and high-school. We were on the same soccer team (his family’s company was the sponsor). We were in the same Cub Scout troop. We were even on the same swim team in high school.

And then, like everyone else in high school, we dropped off each other’s radar for nearly two decades. It was for no other reason than everyone going their own way. Sonny’s way took him further out of the circles the rest of us migrated into — I periodically traipsed across others — taking him as far as southern California.

He now heads up his family’s business — Jelinek Cork — and is the chair of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. Considering he’s (about) the same age as me, that’s not anything to sneeze at. Compared to him, I have to admin that I do feel a little inadequate.

Through Twitter, Sonny and I exchanged not just greetings, but found out that we were going to be in close proximity to each other. He and his wife Michelle were coming out to Banff for New Year’s, which seemed an opportunity that we simply couldn’t pass up.

Instead of the old standby — drinks at some bar — I suggested we do something a little different: Afternoon Tea at the Banff Springs Hotel.

The Banff Springs, like the other Fairmont hotels, carries on the traditions first held when they were Canadian Pacific hotels, founded by Scotsmen who had the tradition of British high tea. If you’ve never had high tea, it’s something I highly recommend. And if you get a chance to do so at a Fairmont hotel, you’ll be experiencing some of the best in the world. (I can say that, having had tea in a few places outside of North America.)

We arrived in the Rundle Lounge around 13:45, the time Sonny had managed to reserve. It didn’t matter than we hadn’t seen each other in over 18 years — the time seemed to nearly vanish. We looked older, wiser, and (hopefully a lot more mature), but recognition came pretty quickly for both of us. Spouses and The Monkey were introduced.

First question? After graduation, what happened next?

We had our tea for nearly three hours. That’s how good a time we had. Our servers wafted in and out like the scent of tea from the pots we drank, neither interrupting nor competing for attention. The trays of scrumptious sandwiches and cakes were more than we could eat (I think they’ve actually gotten better since our last time) — The Monkey had an entire tray all to herself.

My biggest regret with the event was something that many of you will find shocking: I utterly forgot to take a picture. I only realised it as we drove away from the Banff Springs, headed back to Calgary. Quite the oversight, sadly.

Alex and I remarked as we headed down the Trans Canada that having tea on New Years Day seemed special for a few reasons, not the least of which was having tea with old friends. But it’s a nice event. It’s quiet, peaceful (except for having to chase The Monkey all over the place, as she’s rapidly becoming a poster child for Ritalin), and thoroughly enjoyable way to bring in the new year. (Probably even moreso if you’re still recovering from the previous night’s events.)

Alex and I have declared this to be our new tradition: New Year’s Tea. We’ll be there, a year from today, enjoying the fantastic view, and having a wonderful time.

Who wants to join us?