Planning a Surprise & Some National Pride

Tuesday 14 January 2014

World Junior Hockey Championships are synonymous with the holidays in Canada.  The tournament features up and coming hockey players under the age of twenty and it starts on Boxing Day.  Families spending time at home together will crowd around television sets to watch the Canada games and often times, this is where we get our first glimpses of the future "greats" to the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby.  It's such a big deal in Canada that we host the tournament more than any other country.  In fact, up until recently, different Canadian cities have hosted every other year.

Last Christmas, we were at home with our families and Joe was extra excited to tune into the World Juniors after having missed it while abroad.  When it was announced that the following year the tournament would be held in Sweden, Joe suggested we go.  I answered with a nonchalant, "Maybe," and we dropped the subject.  Later in the year, particularly after my epic 30th birthday celebration, I started pondering what we could do for Joe's 30th birthday when the two merged into one glorious plan.

While in Canada last June, I started formulating my master plan.  My research told me that Canada would play USA on New Years Eve - at home, this would be the game that would rival all games, only trumped by a gold medal match.  Emails went out to his colleague to see if he could be away for two days and I started researching the destination, Malmo.  Over the next few months, game tickets were bought, hotel reserved, flights purchased and official jerseys brought over from Canada.  Purchases were hidden in my Visa statements but the real challenge was holding Joe off.  Not long after I began bringing the plan to fruition, Joe started laying on the heat hoping to go to Sweden.  I was putting out fires left, right and centre, emailing friends after he emailed them hoping to organize something, creating all sorts of little white lies along the way.  There were times where I was certain he'd buy tickets and I'd have to give up the secret but thankfully, we made it until Christmas morning when all was revealed.

He was stunned and ecstatic (or as ecstatic as my under-emotional husband can be.)  I was relieved and so happy to have pulled it all off and on the morning of December 31st, we boarded our flight to Copenhagen ready to cheer on Canada.
I expected to find a few Canadians in Malmo, Sweden, after all, there had to be others out there like us - expats living nearby and away from home for the holidays.  I did not expect to be surrounded by Canadians.  From the moment we stepped off the train, we saw people draped in Canada paraphernalia wandering the streets well away from the arena.  We sat beside Canadians in cafés and listened in on hockey talk and we boarded public transit alongside our countrymen.  There were so many people draped in red and white that we could have been in Calgary.

It only got better as we settled into our seats at the arena.  Despite the first game being Slovakia vs Czech Republic, the majority of the fans were Canadian and as we passed some time in the Fan Zone awaiting our game, we were hard pressed to find people other than Canadians.  In fact, the entire pre-game show was directed towards us.  And then of course, there was the big game.

We took over Malmo Isstadion and as our flag was raised marking our win at the end of the game to the tune of O Canada, a few tears might have sprung to my eyes.  This Canadian, who sometimes forgets what it's like to be surrounded by her people, couldn't have been prouder.
The months of planning and little white lies were beyond worth it!  We had an absolute blast - in fact, I enjoyed it so much that I apologized for having so much fun with his present!

Today, on this fourteenth day of January, I wish my husband a very Happy 30th Birthday!


  1. happy birthday to your hubs first of all!! :) the 30 club is not so bad ;)

    i feel horrible not even knowing such a hockey tournament exists, but now i know. and i think it is really cool you surprised him by taking him there! i have never seen any US sports outside of the US, so i have no idea what it would be like to be surrounded by fans all cheering the same team in a random country. i hope to experience that sometime! i guess everywhere i go there are loads of americans, so i never really know what it is like to feel away from my homeland (if that makes any sense). i guess that is what i get from being from a country with 315 million people lol. but i think a sporting event would be really cool. ill have to start looking around to see when US teams play around europe.

    i know how much canadians LOVE hockey (it only took my 1st trip of like 50 to canada to realize this lol!!!), so i know how cool of an experience this would have been! thanks for sharing the photos <3

    1. It was just so bizarre to be in Sweden with so many proud, red & white wearing, chanting Canadians… Sweden! That's a long way to travel for hockey!

  2. Ah-mazing! I got goosebumps reading!! There is absolutely NOTHING that makes you feel more Canadian than to be covered in gear, surrounded by countrymen, at a hockey game. Especially in a foreign country! I'm SOOOOOOO jealous you got to go-it would have been amazing! Happy Birthday Joe too. I hope he realizes how spoiled he is :)

    1. I thought of you while we were there, Sarah! You would have LOVED it!

      Toronto & Montreal are sharing the next two times Canada holds the tournament - perhaps you'll get to go to one of them!

  3. Gosh, I love surprises! What a thoughtful one you pulled off. Sounds so exciting, too. Happy birthday, Joe!

  4. Now THAT is a surprise - love the effort you had to put into it fighting all of the fires! Its so hard when you know someone wants something and you almost have to stay three steps ahead of them all the time. So glad you guys had a lovely trip and so happy to hear you had a lovely Canadian moment :) Happy Birthday Joe!

  5. Happy birthday to Joe!! I don't think a post has ever made me more homesick than this :)

  6. How fun! I love going to sports games for the energy and excitement, especially abroad to people watch. :)

  7. This is such an awesome present for Joe's 30th birthday! I'm sure it was great for both of you to be surrounded by so much 'Canadian' energy again! :) But, wow, all the work that went into planning this… Joe is definitely lucky to be able to call someone awesome like you wife! :)

  8. This is EPIC! You definitely get a gold star for this present! :)


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