Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Traditions Observed

One last, belated post about Christmas before the New Year is upon us.

For me and my family, Christmas includes certain traditions and this year was no exception.

It takes place here, at our long time family home.  A few years ago, my mom, my sister and I travelled to my brother's house in Calgary for Christmas but that was the first and only time we haven't spent this holiday at home.

A white Christmas is the norm here, no matter how green it might be in Toronto and even if, as it was this year, there is just barely enough snow to cover the grass.  I can only remember one or two "green" Christmases in my lifetime.

We have stockings on Christmas Eve, the same ones made by my grandmother close to 50 years ago.  Let's just say, I don't recall ever not having these stockings, so that's a pretty darned long time.  When we were younger, we used to hang them on the fireplace but now that we are older, we put them on chairs, where it's easier to assemble all the various parcels and packages that go in or with them.

We and our neighbours put out candles on the street on Christmas Eve, very soon after it gets dark.  I call it "Santa's runway".  No one is quite sure who started this tradition but several others have since joined them in doing this for many years now.  The result is several blocks lit up with candles placed inside empty plastic soda bottles.  Cars slow down to get a good look as they drive by. It's really quite special to see.

We have turkey on Christmas Day.  This year, as she has for the past six years since my father passed away, my sister cooked the bird using his recipes for both the turkey and the rice stuffing, both of which she makes just as well as he ever did.

Said turkey dinner is shared on a pretty regular annual basis with our long time friends and neighbours. We take turns hosting, as our homes are only a block apart.  Some years, we've needed two turkeys and if there is enough snow, a sled to carry one of them down the street.  There have been close to 30 people around the table in the past, this year's group of nine was our smallest yet but still very enjoyable.  We were missing those who weren't there - some have passed away, one very sadly only a few short months ago, while others were out of town and unable to attend - but we had a lot of fun just the same.

The carving of the turkey is always a production. Usually done by the oldest male in attendance, although Janine has done it several times herself. This was Ray's first time and he did a wonderful job.

Although not without an audience

some of whom observed very carefully.

But all went well, and it was finally time to load up our plates and eat.

We always have Christmas crackers and wear the silly hats found inside after reading aloud the corny jokes and fighting over the toys they are packaged with.

Although this year, some of the ladies were already wearing hats of their own.

Which meant they ended up wearing two hats.

Boxing Day was a little different this year.  We don't really have a fixed tradition for this day but I'm hoping this one gets repeated.  We had old friends over for dinner.  My sister cooked again, a delicious pork roast served with peaches, using another recipe of my father's (I had made his recipe for lasagna on Xmas Eve too!) and once again, an enjoyable meal was spent in good company.

"There is no ideal Christmas; only the one Christmas you decide to make as a reflection of your values, desires, affections, traditions." (Bill McKibben )  I for one am glad these traditions have endured.

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