Family Reunion.

It's no literary achievement to liken the Trans-Canada Highway to a major artery of the nation. But I do have a small twist of my own to put on that metaphor: The No. 1West is the artery of Canada. The major vein is the No. 1 East.

Maybe it's just a product of the summer vacations my parents chose, or maybe it's in accordance with the sun, or maybe it's just that Pet Shop Boys song. Regardless, my natural instinct is always to start heading west. I don't need any encouragement to travel in that direction. Heading east, on the other hand, signifies a return. The job is done, the motivation has no pulse, and all that's left is a more relaxed path between rest stops.

And so, when I begin a trip by heading east to Regina, it always feels a bit like I'm going against the flow.

It was still a good trip, though. Friends were met, eggs were broken, bowls were shared, and bunnies danced.

Of particular note, though, was my evening with the grandparents. I was staying the night, and after the seven-course meal (ah, grandmothers), the three of us settled down in front of the television. Alternating between a romantic comedy and a hockey game was pleasant, but the eventually the Leafs won and Minnie Driver got the man of her dreams. The next movie on cable was "Hallowe'en", and I think you all can appreciate why I quickly suggested we turn off the television.

However, small talk runs out after a while, and that's when the photo albums came out. Leafing through page after page of grandchildren, I couldn't help but think about the Wii I had in the trunk of my car. That's supposed to be all the rage with seniors nowadays, isn't it? Wouldn't they enjoy it? I decided against it, ultimately, but it did remind me of something else I brought with me.

"Say, Grandma... a friend of mine lent me a CD by a country singer named Corb Lund -- he's actually from the town of Taber, right by Medicine Hat. It's actually quite good, and I think you'd like it, so I made you a copy. Hold on, and I'll get it from the car."

When I came back inside with the CD... pandemonium.

My grandmother had convinced my grandfather that Corb Lund was a close personal friend of mine, and they had to get that CD playing as soon as possible, even if it meant rearranging all the ornaments covering their stereo, and pulling out the surrounding furniture to find out where the stereo used to plug in.

I tried to downplay the issue, and convinced them that they didn't have to remodel the living room tonight. I also tried to clear up the "friend" angle... they now think that Corb's a close personal friend of the guy who lent me the CD. I call it a partial success.

However, I was certainly convinced by this point that hooking up a video game console would have been too great an undertaking, so once again, I put the idea of the Wii aside.

Then, later that evening, a game of checkers was proposed, but dismissed when no checkerboard could be found, and my grandfather admitted that he hadn't played checkers in over a decade...

Later still, the topic of bowling came up, and they commented on how nice it was to be able to bowl year-round. Of course, it was still a pain getting to the bowling lanes...

I want to reassure you all that I had a wonderful time, and that I treasured their company. But let me tell you this, my friends: Never once, in my wildest dreams, did I ever imagine that I (or anyone) would feel guilty about not playing video games with my grandparents.

Seriously, I think we're going to have to invent a word for this.

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Canadian explorer. Chemist by training, biologist by nature. Long-time supporter and participant in National Novel Writing Month. Known as "Aquadeo" in most Internet circles. Also known as "that guy with the pants" to people who have seen me in certain pants.