Home for the Hali-days | Visit Halifax | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST
Lauren Wilson and her family

Home for the Hali-days

Haligonians living around the world, missing home, are excited to come back this year.

It’s been more than two years since Sue White last saw her nephew. “I just want him here, I want to see him, I want to be able to interact with him,” she says of her sister’s son who lives in Ontario. “Me and my children have autoimmune diseases,” she says, so they can’t go visit him there, and because he has Asperger's he doesn’t like video chatting much. But on December 15, he’s coming to visit for the first time since pre-pandemic, and a lot has changed. “My children themselves, the last time that he saw them they were seven,” White says. “And they’ll be 10 in January, so that’s pretty big.” She’s excited to have him in town for almost an entire month, where he’ll stay with his grandmother in Cole Harbour and visit other aunts and cousins who live nearby. “We’ll be able to hear about him opening presents or things that he might be excited about,” says White. “It’s just having him here.”

None of Lauren Wilson’s family in Halifax have met her nearly eight-month-old son Asher. “All the aunties and uncles and cousins and that kind of thing, they will get to see this little, tiny, adorable human,” Wilson tells The Coast in a Zoom call, as Asher coos in her lap. Originally from Fairview, Wilson has been living in the suburbs outside Phoenix, Arizona—where her husband Adam hails from—for the past eight years. “I never intended to marry an American, but you can't really help who you fall in love with,” she says. “The last time that I was in Halifax would have been 2019, the last big trip that we had before COVID hit.” Wilson’s excited to share her own childhood memories with her son. “I want to go and see Woody the Christmas tree cause he’s been getting a lot of the spotlight,” she says, and trips to Peggy’s Cove, John’s Lunch, and buying an East Coast Lifestyle onesie are all on the agenda as well. But she’s especially looking forward to a quiet Boxing Day gathering with family, something that doesn’t really happen in the States. “I’m looking forward to having them just be part of our daily lives for the two weeks that we get to be home.”

“Iam most excited for my mom’s cooking,” says Emma Hogenbom, who’s been living in Manitoba for the past seven months. After getting laid off from two jobs in Nova Scotia in the spring, she found a job opportunity in rural Manitoba that she couldn’t pass up. “I was desperate, and it was a lot more than I was making back home.” Hogenbom moved there during the third wave lockdown in May 2021. Since then, she ventured home for five days around her September birthday, but a 15-day trip in December will be a longer opportunity to catch up with her best friends, see family, and indulge in the things she misses most about home while staying at her parents’ house in the Annapolis Valley. “I love cider, and I feel like there’s no cider in Manitoba,” Hogenbom says. “You go to a restaurant in Nova Scotia and you see all the local ciders on the menu.”

Maria-Luciana DeNino grew up with Italian traditions over the holidays, like fish on Christmas Eve and celebrating until January 6. But when she moved from Bedford, N.S. to Pratola Peligina, Italy—her parents’ hometown—three years ago to teach English, she didn’t imagine a global pandemic would prevent her from returning as often as she’d like. “You kind of miss home after a while,” DeNino says in a Zoom call with The Coast from Rome. The next day she’ll hop on an eight hour flight to Toronto, then catch a connection to Halifax. “I don’t really care what I do, as long as I get to spend time with my mom,” she says, but adds that she wants to check out the new Queen’s Marque stairs and the lights along the waterfront. DeNino is planning to spend about two weeks at home, but might extend her time here until after the New Year. Although DeNino jokes her friends and students in Pratola Peligina only know her as “Mary del Canada,” she’s proud to be from Nova Scotia. “Some Canadians will tell people they are from Toronto or Montreal,” she says. “But I tell them I’m from Halifax.” 

Victoria Walton

Victoria was a full-time reporter with The Coast from April 2020 until mid-2022, when the CBC lured her away. During her Coast tenure, she covering everything from COVID-19 to small business to politics and social justice. Originally from the Annapolis Valley, she graduated from the University of King’s College...
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