Holiday traditions grow stronger

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Christmas, at our home, has always been about family. I suspect the same is true for many Canadian households.

It leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth that there are suggestions afoot that greetings of "Merry Christmas" are no longer appropriate in a country that has welcomed so many people of diverse backgrounds and religions. So, my Christmas wish for people who don't count themselves among Christmas revelers is be tolerant and show some brotherly love and let the rest of us get on with celebrating the season.

I certainly intend to do so.

Despite calls for political correctness and the spectre of a looming federal election, this Christmas season has been pretty much like any other. There are the bustling crowds of shoppers - me among them - scurrying from store to store, the Christmas concerts at local schools, the Santa Clauses in shopping malls, the endless assortment of baked treats that tempt and tantalize us at home and at the office, the cheerful greeting cards and the traditional holiday greetings exchanged with neighbours and friends on the street.

And for me, Christmas just isn't Christmas unless there is snow on the ground. It's just picture perfect when the ground is covered and evergreen branches are laden with the white stuff. Growing up in Northern Ontario, I can remember only one or two years when we didn't have a white Christmas. Since moving to the more temperate climes of Southern Ontario, there have been many more green Christmases.

Thankfully, this year, there seems to be plenty of snow to go around. It fell early and, so far, it looks like it's going to stay for the Christmas holiday.

I remember, as a child, trudging through knee-deep snow in North Bay as our family went on its annual hunt for the perfect Christmas tree. It seemed like we almost froze to death on those outings but we always came home refreshed and pleased with our find.

We would set the tree up in the living room. Almost invariably, it would be just a bit tall and some would have to be lopped off so it would fit once the star was added. And, we would have to be especially watchful of our cats. Some tried to climb the tree, some tried to eat the tinsel icicles and others knocked the decorative balls off whenever they thought we weren't looking.

Despite all the fun times we enjoyed with real trees, we eventually bought a large artificial one. We have stuck with the artificial variety over the years, but it really doesn't compare with the real thing. It doesn't smell like a real tree, although I grudgingly admit that it looks authentic from a distance.

All the other trappings of Christmas, including candles, wreaths, potpourri, ponsiettas and lights continue to adorn our house every holiday season. On Christmas Eve, we light the bayberry candle, a tradition started by my Mom and said to guarantee good fortune for the family in the year ahead. We still gather around the (artificial) tree on Christmas morning and open our gifts, and we spend the day enjoying each other's company before topping off the festivities with the traditional Christmas dinner of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, vegetables and pie.

And so as much as Christmas is a religious holiday, it is also very much a tradition. It is the one day a year that most, if not all, our family gathers. It is the one day that we can share the most precious gift of all: time for one another. And it continues to be the one day that I gladly flaunt political correctness and wish all those near and dear, "Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night."

Holiday traditions grow stronger

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Christmas, at our home, has always been about family. I suspect the same is true for many Canadian households.

It leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth that there are suggestions afoot that greetings of "Merry Christmas" are no longer appropriate in a country that has welcomed so many people of diverse backgrounds and religions. So, my Christmas wish for people who don't count themselves among Christmas revelers is be tolerant and show some brotherly love and let the rest of us get on with celebrating the season.

I certainly intend to do so.

Despite calls for political correctness and the spectre of a looming federal election, this Christmas season has been pretty much like any other. There are the bustling crowds of shoppers - me among them - scurrying from store to store, the Christmas concerts at local schools, the Santa Clauses in shopping malls, the endless assortment of baked treats that tempt and tantalize us at home and at the office, the cheerful greeting cards and the traditional holiday greetings exchanged with neighbours and friends on the street.

And for me, Christmas just isn't Christmas unless there is snow on the ground. It's just picture perfect when the ground is covered and evergreen branches are laden with the white stuff. Growing up in Northern Ontario, I can remember only one or two years when we didn't have a white Christmas. Since moving to the more temperate climes of Southern Ontario, there have been many more green Christmases.

Thankfully, this year, there seems to be plenty of snow to go around. It fell early and, so far, it looks like it's going to stay for the Christmas holiday.

I remember, as a child, trudging through knee-deep snow in North Bay as our family went on its annual hunt for the perfect Christmas tree. It seemed like we almost froze to death on those outings but we always came home refreshed and pleased with our find.

We would set the tree up in the living room. Almost invariably, it would be just a bit tall and some would have to be lopped off so it would fit once the star was added. And, we would have to be especially watchful of our cats. Some tried to climb the tree, some tried to eat the tinsel icicles and others knocked the decorative balls off whenever they thought we weren't looking.

Despite all the fun times we enjoyed with real trees, we eventually bought a large artificial one. We have stuck with the artificial variety over the years, but it really doesn't compare with the real thing. It doesn't smell like a real tree, although I grudgingly admit that it looks authentic from a distance.

All the other trappings of Christmas, including candles, wreaths, potpourri, ponsiettas and lights continue to adorn our house every holiday season. On Christmas Eve, we light the bayberry candle, a tradition started by my Mom and said to guarantee good fortune for the family in the year ahead. We still gather around the (artificial) tree on Christmas morning and open our gifts, and we spend the day enjoying each other's company before topping off the festivities with the traditional Christmas dinner of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, vegetables and pie.

And so as much as Christmas is a religious holiday, it is also very much a tradition. It is the one day a year that most, if not all, our family gathers. It is the one day that we can share the most precious gift of all: time for one another. And it continues to be the one day that I gladly flaunt political correctness and wish all those near and dear, "Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night."

Holiday traditions grow stronger

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Christmas, at our home, has always been about family. I suspect the same is true for many Canadian households.

It leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth that there are suggestions afoot that greetings of "Merry Christmas" are no longer appropriate in a country that has welcomed so many people of diverse backgrounds and religions. So, my Christmas wish for people who don't count themselves among Christmas revelers is be tolerant and show some brotherly love and let the rest of us get on with celebrating the season.

I certainly intend to do so.

Despite calls for political correctness and the spectre of a looming federal election, this Christmas season has been pretty much like any other. There are the bustling crowds of shoppers - me among them - scurrying from store to store, the Christmas concerts at local schools, the Santa Clauses in shopping malls, the endless assortment of baked treats that tempt and tantalize us at home and at the office, the cheerful greeting cards and the traditional holiday greetings exchanged with neighbours and friends on the street.

And for me, Christmas just isn't Christmas unless there is snow on the ground. It's just picture perfect when the ground is covered and evergreen branches are laden with the white stuff. Growing up in Northern Ontario, I can remember only one or two years when we didn't have a white Christmas. Since moving to the more temperate climes of Southern Ontario, there have been many more green Christmases.

Thankfully, this year, there seems to be plenty of snow to go around. It fell early and, so far, it looks like it's going to stay for the Christmas holiday.

I remember, as a child, trudging through knee-deep snow in North Bay as our family went on its annual hunt for the perfect Christmas tree. It seemed like we almost froze to death on those outings but we always came home refreshed and pleased with our find.

We would set the tree up in the living room. Almost invariably, it would be just a bit tall and some would have to be lopped off so it would fit once the star was added. And, we would have to be especially watchful of our cats. Some tried to climb the tree, some tried to eat the tinsel icicles and others knocked the decorative balls off whenever they thought we weren't looking.

Despite all the fun times we enjoyed with real trees, we eventually bought a large artificial one. We have stuck with the artificial variety over the years, but it really doesn't compare with the real thing. It doesn't smell like a real tree, although I grudgingly admit that it looks authentic from a distance.

All the other trappings of Christmas, including candles, wreaths, potpourri, ponsiettas and lights continue to adorn our house every holiday season. On Christmas Eve, we light the bayberry candle, a tradition started by my Mom and said to guarantee good fortune for the family in the year ahead. We still gather around the (artificial) tree on Christmas morning and open our gifts, and we spend the day enjoying each other's company before topping off the festivities with the traditional Christmas dinner of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, vegetables and pie.

And so as much as Christmas is a religious holiday, it is also very much a tradition. It is the one day a year that most, if not all, our family gathers. It is the one day that we can share the most precious gift of all: time for one another. And it continues to be the one day that I gladly flaunt political correctness and wish all those near and dear, "Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night."