Saturday, September 17, 2016

Getting to Know You - Christmas Traditions

Catherine is resurrecting her "Getting to Know You" questions.

I am told to feel free to respond, or not. She will be sending 1-2 questions per week. And, if I want to play along, but would prefer to answer in person, she will give me a call.

That is an offer I can’t refuse. So here goes on this week's questions. And as she says, play along if you like.

Describe a favourite family Christmas Tradition

Having spent so many Christmases, this question just about stymied me.

Do I love the traditions of my parents? Yes.

Do I love the traditions of the family I had. Yes.

When I was discussing this question with Wyona she said that the best tradition is to have no tradition. Just do what works for a few years, and when that is done, pick up something new and go with it for a few more years, and so on. There is more than a grain of truth here.

I used to have my house filled with Christmas decorations. Now just a few are fine with me even though I have more house now, since I am sharing it with fewer people.

I used to fill my home with baking. Now a large tin box of Walkers Shortbread from Costco will do.

I used to make hundreds of pounds of chocolates. Literally. Now a days, few people do the hand dipped chocolates, but when they do, I am glad to have a few that are slipped my way.

I used to help Santa with gifts for children. Now he has other helpers.

I used to teach every Christmas song possible to my little children. Now I enjoy hearing those old melodies on the radio, my favourites coming into this 2016 year will be “Coventry Carol” (Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child) and “Sweet and Low”. But that is not to say that any tune from The Messiah will also do to remind me that it is truly Christmas. Or humming along to Britten’s “A Ceremony of Carols.” That is also good. And one of my most precious memories is of taking my children to Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, where one of the songs uses the lyrics, “licorice, licorice”. Even now one of my children will sing those lyrics and it will make me laugh. I can vividly remember sitting in the University Theatre with them and seeing the work performed.

Traditionally, I used to long for framed pictures of famous Christmas art for my walls. Now I have an 8” x 6” piece from Brook Melchin’s series of Christmas cards – mine is black and white though his originals are coloured. Just the right size and I can leave it up all year. I chose the piece where Mary is on a donkey and Joseph is walking towards Bethlemen to pay his taxes. I pay mine in a much easier way – just direct deposit to the CRA. And as for Christmas art, I have a piece of art done by Catherine at Relief Society – “Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God …” All of the important words written on a piece of gold lamme. Or fake gold, but it is the same to me.

My singular-to-me tradition has been to go shopping and enjoy the decorations to buy (without doing so, if it is at all possible)  More importantly I fill my soul with the magnificent store decorations that fill the ceilings of stores and hang from rafters in malls. I love looking at those. I will still sit on a bench and do that, adding to it my own wonder at the gift of being my age and still able to see.

A Charlie Brown Christmas
In the past, I loved reading traditional Christmas stories – and how many of them exist. “The Night Before Christmas”, “The Fourth Wiseman”, and maybe the best, the original, “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields ….” 

Yes, Wyona is right. Pack the season with the traditions from our culture. Lay some aside.  Take others up.  Pick and choose from the beauty and cultural wealth that abounds.

 And wishing you all a Merry Christmas.

Only three months to go.



  1. I can't get enough of Christmas EVER.

  2. About 20 years ago I began to hear the same Christmas tunes over and over. These were the commercial tunes, like Elvis singing it is a Blue, Blue Christmas. The simplicity of them was driving me mad.

    So I went to the university library and made tapes of all of the classical Christmas music that interested me, and I just began to play those tapes, time and time again. I haven't lost interest yet. I might have about 20 of them and it will soon be time to get them out again.

    That worked for music.

    But I keep wanting to buy every nativity set I see. Going to St. Joseph's in Montreal cured me of that. Breath-taking to see nativity sets in that abundance. I figured out I can never buy all of them!