I love everything about Christmas, being from Canada I have very fond childhood memories of the lights glistening on the outdoor tree under the beauty of the horror frost in subzero temperatures. Most importantly, I love the family traditions that my mother established. Every family has traditions and ours was no different.
Our Christmas traditions were broken into three parts, the Pre-Christmas, the Christmas and the Post-Christmas tradition.
Pre-Christmas tradition: For us it entailed tons of Christmas cookie baking, putting up the Christmas tree and decorating it; mom and dad fought over the tree every year, but that was part of the tradition. My sister, Jennifer, in preparation for Christmas Eve, would practice Christmas carols on the piano while we’d prepare the our gifts and decorate the house.
Christmas Tradition: My mother was very strict about Christmas Eve. This was a time for family. Our friends were allowed to come around for the celebration, but going to a friends was unheard of. The evening always involved us gathering round the piano to sing Christmas carols, I can’t imaging how hard it was for Jen to focus on playing with our out of tune singing. Still, we had a great time followed by chatting and eating massive amounts of fantastic festive foods. Yum, my mouth waters at the memory! As the evening wound down mom had us write little Christmas notes about what we most appreciated about each other, one note for each family member, which were placed on tree before we’d head of to church.
Christmas day was also about time with family, it started first thing as we rushed to open our presents. The first presents opened were the hand written Christmas notes from family members expressing what we most appreciated about each other. These were without a doubt the best gift I ever got. Why? because these impacted on me!
There were years when I didn’t think my sister liked me much and those notes, as silly as it sounds, reassured me of her love. Written on them, were words that were never said, that teens don’t say to each other, but they were from the heart and I treasure them to this day.
After opening the presents we’d have a huge breakfast, cooked by dad. Later, we kids and dad would sit around the kitchen table playing Risk or Monopoly, eating chips and dip, while mom puttered in the kitchen preparing the evening meal. Christmas dinner was always extreme! Food for 20, but there were only 5 of us. As the years went on we shared Christmas dinner with other friends and family, I think to help reduce the months we’d be eating frozen turkey left overs for.
Post Christmas Tradition: Many people joined the boxing day sales, but for the most part my family would stay close to home playing games and spending quiet time enjoying our gifts. This was time we savored.
Today: I long ago left home and chose a career living oversees working with CARE Canada and now the UN, see my about page. Regrettably. it’s been years since I’ve been home for a traditional family Christmas, but I continue to love Christmas and have built my own family traditions. I was reminded of this yesterday when my 7 year old daughter handed me a paper and said mom “I’ve written a blog.”. Here is her blog, I’ve typed it out in case you can’t read it. I hope you enjoy her story.
Christmas is a special time of year. Christmas is special because it is family time. Even if we can’t play with our friends at least it is family time. At Christmas we may not get what we want, but it can be even better. Christmas is the one time of year that cant be destroyed.
I was a little worried about what she meant by the word – destroyed, but was very pleased with her explanation. It went something like this. It means that even if there are no toys or decorations for the tree it doesn’t matter because we will still have each other and we will still be together.
This was music to my ears. Christmas will always be special for all the reasons it is special, but for me the added bonus is that my children are growing up to value family and family traditions as much as I do.
I have to say, I’m so happy that I carry on the traditions my parents instilled and that my children love this celebration as much as I do. My family tradition has been adapted to living oversees, but the sentiment remains the same. Family first! Thanks mom and dad for the values you instilled; I’m sure it wasn’t always easy, but the important things in life never are.
Christmas is still a few weeks away, what family traditions will you create this Christmas? I’d love to hear your traditions or those you’ll create, I invite you to click here to share your story.