Every year, at around this time, you start seeing articles in magazines, the newspaper and online explaining how to “deal with/get through/manage the holiday season without losing your mind/sanity/friends (or whatever)”. I have never understood how such a sparkly, cozy and giving time of year would need ‘dealing-with’ or ‘getting-through’. Christmas has always been my most favourite time of the year! I personally wish time would slow right down at this time of year so that we could pack in as much holiday fun as possible!
Having said all that, perhaps I grew up loving Christmas so much because my parents (and other family members) took it upon themselves to make this time of year feel super extra special, without much fuss! When I pause and think of all of my favourite things about the lead-up to Christmas, the much anticipated Christmas morning, and everything that Christmas conotes, the simplicity that is our Christmas is what has provided me with the fond memories that I hope to pass on to my own children.
When I started reflecting on what my very favourite Christmas tradition is, I couldn’t narrow it down to one isolated event or thing. The feeling I get from this time of year is attributed to a combination of family traditions. I have chosen three of these traditions that are some of my most cherished!
1) Choosing the perfect tree! Every year, my mom, dad, little brother and I would load the car up with bungee cords and rope and head down to Ambleside Beach to pick out our Christmas tree-to-be.
I am not sure how much say we actually had in the selection process, but my parents did a great job of making the decision seem like it was up to my brother and I. We scoured the rows for a tree not too Charlie Brown-like, but not too overwhelming for our living room either. It was a very important choice we would be making and my dad held up each ‘potential’ so that we could analyse the tilt, fullness, colouring, and height. The tree was no good if presents wouldn’t be able to fit underneath (which was maybe actually our only consideration in terms of whether it would be a ‘good fit’ for us or not). Regardless, it was a highlight and we worried the whole way home about our precious tree falling off the roof of the car. Now that Portia is 2 years old, I think the tree selection will be even more fun!
2) Baking German cookies with my Oma. My grandma is the personification of Christmas. Both before and after my grandpa passed away, she always had her tree and lights up earlier than ours, her house was filled with beautiful Christmas carols and it always smelled of fresh baked cookies. I wish I could say I know the names of the cookies, but embarrassingly I know no German. We had our own names for the special cookies though: the chocolate hearts, the jelly stars, the sugar moons, the fruit thumbprints etc. The names do the elaborateness of the cookies no justice, as they are the most delicious cookies I’ve ever tasted… by far. Our whole family, and many of our friends, wait in eager anticipation every year for the Christmas baking (and cookie eating) to begin.
When we were younger, we would go to my Oma and Opa’s house after school and on weekends, wash up to our elbows and help my Oma to bake, decorate (and sample) the batches and batches of cookies that filled the most giant glass jars I have ever seen. (They are seriously weirdly big and I have no idea where you would buy jars that big!) These cookies were sent to family everywhere from Ontario to Mexico. Each type of cookie had multiple steps and layers and our Oma must have put in full 9-5 shifts some days to fill those crazy glass jars. Unfortunately, my Oma has had to pass the German cookie-baking torch on, as she no longer has the ability to take on such an endeavour. Luckily, we have my aunt, another gifted baker, who fills my Oma’s shoes so well. Oma’s Christmas cookies live on and the memories flow through us all when we get together every year to keep the tradition going (and the giant glass jars topped up!).
3) All the pretty lights. Every year, on Christmas Eve, my family and I used to drive around West Vancouver admiring all of the beautiful light displays. We would often start down at Dundarave Beach where dozens of local businesses contributed a decorated tree to the collection of (probably) one hundred. We would then head up the hill to the main attraction- Jimmy Pattison’s house in the British Properties. The light display on his family home was always the highlight for us and we always looked forward to seeing his house lit up. Driving around and admiring lights and lawn displays is surely a tradition that will keep many of my childhood Christmas memories alive!
Thank you for joining me on this 6th day of the “12 Days of Christmas Traditions with Vancouver’s Top Mom Bloggers”. Tomorrow is Day 7 and you can read all about Suzanne Serwatuk’s tradition of Gluten-free Christmas Dinner here at Enchanted Chameleon.
What is your favourite holiday tradition? Do you have any new traditions you have started lately? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!
Nice to meet you! I'm Jessica a.k.a North Shore Mama. This site was born out of my love for my daughters and the desire to share my motherhood journey with fellow moms. I believe we're all in this craziness called 'parenthood' together and North Shore Mama is my way of reaching out to anyone who needs a laugh, a cry or dinner inspiration. Thank you so much for reading!
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