It’s getting to be that time of year again! As December brings its chilly weather to my doorstep, it also brings along the holidays. Christmas is usually locked in fierce competition with Halloween for my favourite day of the year, though for vastly different reasons! Like everyone, me and my family have our own traditions, but each year brings on a new challenge or opportunity for those traditions to evolve. So here is what is in store for me this holiday season.
A Christmas tree is a must for my family. Not one of the fake ones, because that would be too convenient. But it would also take away from the fun! Every year, in early December, we drive to a nearby tree farm and spend half the day there. It is a fantastic place that thrives on Christmas; they have a massive store that sells all kinds of ornaments and items, they have professional carolers, hot chocolate, horse-drawn carriage rides - and dog-pulled ones for the small children. They have Santa coming around every now and then, have a log-carving competition, and the whole thing just oozes Christmas cheer. Of course, they have acres upon acres of trees growing in rows. We get taken out with a group of a dozen other people and get dropped off by one of the bonfires and huts they have going all day long. From there, we spend at least an hour, possibly two, looking at trees, getting hopeful that this is the one, and then finding a flaw that makes us abandon it. Throw in some snowball fights, general tomfoolery, and we eventually find the appropriate tree to cut down. For the last few years, that duty has fallen to me. It was a moment of pride the first time I got to cut the tree down myself. I am still happy to do it, but the pride is being tapered by the sap that now covers my jacket and hair whenever I have to reach into the tree to cut at its trunk. We then head home with our bounty tied to the roof to have a wonderful dinner and warm ourselves with alcohol.
But that isn’t the only pre-Christmas tradition. Ever since I started dating my partner, I have joined her family and her godparents’ family in what they call Christmas Warm-Up. It also occurs in early December and has all of us get together, eat delicious food - her godmother is a great cook - play games, and each year has some sort of Christmas craft. I’ve made ornaments, snow globes, Christmas cards, and cookies, too. It is always a fun, cozy day that I’ve come to look forward to every year.
But there’s more!
I spend Christmas Day with my family, and her partner with hers. Hell hath no fury like my mother will when I say I won’t be there Christmas morning. The night before, on Christmas Eve, my brother and I always exchange a single present with one another. We have been doing that for as long as I can remember. A few years ago, my parents asked if we thought we were getting too old for the tradition, to which my brother and I scoffed. It’s not that we are filled with childish impatience anymore (or at least, that’s what we say), but not doing it would make Christmas feel… incomplete.
Christmas Day itself has changed over the years as I’ve grown up, and I’m sure that isn’t uncommon. It used to be that I would try and meld Christmas Eve and Day into one, staying up as late as I could to try and catch a glimpse of Santa Clause. I was never quite able to, since sleep usually got the better of a younger Douglas, but I tried nonetheless. These days it isn’t uncommon for the family to stay up until midnight or later, watching holiday movies, chatting, eating cookies - but making sure there is enough left to appease the man in the red suit.
Speaking of movies, there are a handful that we have to watch every year. If we don’t, the world might very well end. They include National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The Family Stone, and Love, Actually. I hardly ever watch the same movie more than once, so this is a true testament to how much I love this tradition.
Actually celebrating Christmas depends on logistics, when I can visit my partner’s family and when she can visit mine, when my whole family can get together and where. It is one of the few times in the year when we are fortunate enough to get the entire tribe together for the day, and it is one of the things I look forward to the most about Christmas. Except the dishes of around twenty people, I could really do without that.
The biggest difference this year is that my grandfather will not be with us. Both him and my gran have lived with our family for the last nine years, though he passed away at the end of March of this year. Almost 92 years old and suffering from dementia, Christmas was definitely one of his favourite days of the year as well. His smile, good nature, ridiculous poetry, and his hugs - definitely those - will be missed this Christmas.
So that’s basically it! My Christmas traditions in a nutshell, though things rarely ever go exactly as planned. Feel free to leave a comment down below to tell me about your holiday plans. Especially if you celebrate something other than Christmas - or if you have a very unique Christmas celebration - since I love hearing more about things that I have never experienced before. Now to get started on all my Christmas shopping.