I know it's the season of glad tidings an' all, but as a rule you don't generally count official missives from government departments in that category.
Well, here at the Bald Patch we do like to buck trends. We've recently had not just one, but two entirely unconnected pieces of joy thrown into our world.
First off, we applied (back in the summer) for a special tax credit.
One thing to get used to over here is knowing how to find your way around the tax system. Not (I add, in haste) to milk or subvert the system. I despised the way the welfare state I saw at work in Guernsey and the UK laid itself bare to shirkers and spongers, appearing to reward idleness and punish those in genuine need.
The Canadian tax system is a complex beast, with all sorts of credits designed to alleviate unfortunate circumstances and reward things like giving to charity, or using public transport. There's vast amounts of helpful guides on the official web sites to steer you around the system. To me, it all appears very open and welcoming, just rather big. But it is your responsibility to understand and apply for what you are entitled to in the way of credits. It makes a big difference!
Anyway, we received a letter a few weeks ago advising that we were indeed eligible for this credit. There were instructions for reapplying in a few years when the current entitlement expired, but it was all a bit light on what to do next. I shrugged, and assumed there would be a line to fill in on next year's tax return to make it all happen.
Imagine the unbounded joy last week when another letter appeared, which explained that this would be included automatically in the universal child tax benefit payments that we were already receiving. Better still, there was a very useful cheque for the back payments, which has helped enormously at this expensive time of year.
Then yesterday we checked the mail and found an envelope from Immigration Canada, acknowledging receipt of our application (back in August) and explaining the next steps in the process. There is the immigration guide, which contains information for the written test.
Given the long processing times, we are still many months away from becoming citizens, but this is an important first step in confirming that we are finally on the road.