These Are a Few of My Favourtite Things
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. . . in my house, in the stores, and around the community. But what does that really look like for me and my family? What traditions – those customary practices passed down from generation to generation – do I enjoy more than others?
To pick a favourite Christmas tradition is never easy because I truly have always loved so much about this special season of the year. Some things have been part of my life since I can remember, while others are traditions my husband and I have incorporated from our childhood Christmases to make our own family celebration. Some have stood the test of time. Others have evolved as we made them our own with updates or twists on the original.
We all like the comfort of familiarity, of knowing what to expect with the food, the decorations and the stockings to be opened early Christmas morning. The scent of turkey roasting, the sage in the dressing, the creaminess of the mashed potatoes and orange jello with mandarin slices captured inside the jiggly salad are all expected to show up on the dinner table at Christmas. Other food items that tempt our taste buds have found their way alongside the holiday favourites which were traditional in both of our families. A must have for our after dinner delight is my Grannie’s home-made, easy to make fudge which melts in our mouths. This wonderful lady made chocolate and butterscotch fudge in an old tin for all my life and my children remember it well. Now I make it and my grandchildren and I have experimented and added a few new flavours such as mint or raspberry chocolate, peanut butter and cookies and cream but the familiar chocolate and butterscotch always take first place.
The Christmas tree, now artificial, remains a central decoration during the holidays. I can put it up earlier without worrying about how many pine needles need to be swept up daily but I miss the fragrance of the pine. The ornaments have changed over the years but a few of my grandmother’s and mother’s still grace our home each year.
A tradition brought from my husband’s family became our own tradition very quickly. Each Christmas Eve, everyone in the household puts out a stocking no matter their age. The stockings are no longer just whatever big work sock we can find in the drawers but ones I have made or purchased for each child, grandchild and a few stashed away in case we have extra visitors for Christmas morning. I love this tradition and often have as much trouble as the little ones to fall asleep Christmas Eve. I can’t wait to see everyone’s reactions to what they might find in or spilling out of that stocking. My children and grandchildren have carried on this tradition even now that the grandchildren are older teens and young adults. There is something special about the element of surprise, the delight in finding a treat or the customary pair of new socks stuffed inside your Christmas stocking.
As the children grew and married, Christmas morning has not been quite the same with just my husband, youngest daughter and I at home. Some years we spend the holidays with our daughter in Ontario and get the fun of watching the teenage grandchildren put out their stockings on Christmas Eve. We all laugh and make memories as our inner child escapes for a few moments of time as the stockings are emptied one by one. This might be my favourite tradition.
Yet what ties the traditions together is the time spent with family. I miss those who are no longer with us but remember them when we use the dishes belonging to my mother or eat the fudge I learned to make from my grandmother or place the ornaments on the tree that belonged to those who have gone before. I miss the family members that live too far away to visit on Christmas day and yet with the wonders of face time calls or inexpensive phone rates, we still remain connected, knowing they too are having the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and yes likely fudge too since some of the grandchildren now make it if I am not close by. They will have decorated their trees with a variety of ornaments that remind them of past Christmases and opened their stockings early Christmas morning.
Memories bind us together as we celebrate using traditions we love.
Merry Christmas Everyone!