I have happily reaped the benefits of multiple Christmases for nearly two decades and have a number of Christmas traditions.
My parents have been divorced essentially my whole life, and this worked out very well for holidays. Not because I got more presents, but because I get more family time.
The traditions I hold with my father’s side have changed a little bit as I’ve grown. As a child, my brother and I would attend midnight masses with our grandparents, head home, open a single gift and head to bed.
In the morning, we would gather our father and stepmother Amanda, sit around our tree – always decorated by Amanda – and pass around the stockings. We would open the rest of our gifts and relax, usually with some of Amanda’s baking. Once a year she would treat us to our favourite snack – Five Star Bars.
Some years, I had so many dinners I never wanted to see turkey again. Dinners with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles were always fun. I have a large European family and when we all get together it can be a pretty good time.
As I’ve gotten older, I have changed from playing with toys with my cousins to enjoying a glass of Christmas wine with the adults. I still love Christmas, regardless of presents, because I get to see my family that has grown and spread around Calgary.
In Red Deer, Christmas with my mom holds its own traditions. In Red Deer, the season opens with baking.
My mom and I would bake cookies and chocolates and send them out to all of the branches she managed. We would keep the rest and each year we tried new designs for chocolates and new recipes. Our house always started to smell good around the first week of December and I loved spending the time with my mom.
As a kid, we make tons of crafts for our tree. Each year, my brother and I would pester our mom to drag out the decorations and we would spend hours going through them as we filled the tree.
I love looking at the crafts I remember from my childhood and hearing the stories from my mom that go with each decoration.
In recent years, mom ditched the big tree and opted for a palm tree – she hates winter and wanted to be reminded of beautiful beaches. To me, a palm tree doesn’t count, but it makes her happy and that’s okay with me.
Since mom’s fiancé has joined our family, I have had even more cousins and aunts and grandparents to spend time with. They are all based in Manitoba, but we usually figure out a way to see each other.
The dinners at mom’s tend to vary and now carry a Ukrainian influence, thanks to my stepfather Todd. Presents have never been the central idea of my family’s Christmases. Sure, I won’t deny enjoying them but what I like the most is the spirit and closeness my family carries through the season.
Growing up, neither of my parents lived an affluent lifestyle, but there was always a Christmas dinner and time spent together. I love seeing my siblings, and each year my family seems to grow more.
I have also incorporated some new traditions that include my boyfriend and his family. They love to get together for dinners and I am always invited.
I know lots of people who don’t care much for Christmas, but I love it. I grew up knowing the religious reasons but the meaning I take from it is that it is a time to be with my loved ones and reflect on the previous year.
My last tradition is to take time to write out all of the things I went through that year, positive and negative, and reflect on how I have grown and what I have accomplished. This gives me a sense of what I want to work toward and where I am in my life.
I believe that Christmas is a time for people to look back and appreciate what they have. I don’t care if I have presents, dinners or whatever else as long as I get to enjoy the season with the people I love.