Favourite Holiday Traditions
Welcome to another Scriptorium team Q&A or #AskScriptoriumAnything. We’ve been working hard this year and we are excited to have a break, enjoy some time with friends and family. So instead of thinking about writing and communication this week, we’re reflecting on our favorite holiday traditions.
If I think back to Holiday traditions. The ones that I’ve been doing for my whole life are simple but essential. I MUST receive a chocolate A from my dad. In the Dutch tradition, Sinter Klaas arrives on the night of December 5th and leaves a chocolate letter of your first initial in your klompen (wooden shoe).
My parents Canadianized it by putting our chocolate letters in our stockings on Christmas Eve. My dad now has to buy chocolate letters for his kids and all our spouses and his grandchildren who are now starting to add their own significant others. And we won’t have it any other way. I now go to Ben’s Meats, a local Dutch shop that stocks up on chocolate letters well in advance of the season. I don’t buy for my family but for my friends and their kids to pass on that tradition. It’s a simple gift and cultural tradition that is easy to share. And it isn’t Christmas in our family without it.
I also love the annual family picture that Nick and I take under our tree. This picture is a great marker of, yes, ageing, but also all the ups and downs and adventures of our life together. And we always take the picture with all our kids cats. Now that we have four of them the pictures are almost always a laughing disaster. So this Christmas we will take picture # 21 and add it to our growing album.
The holiday tradition I like best is the decorating.
My husband Ryan and I have a historic home that is over 100 years old and we are lovingly and slowly restoring it. There isn’t a room in the house that is fully restored yet, not even a hallway. There are charming stained floors and peeling wallpaper, plaster with cracks and even wiring jobs that aren’t complete.
But, when I put out the Christmas decorations, instead of lipstick on a pig, it is the icing on the cake.
Each decoration adds charm and holds a memory. Some pieces a dear friend made or gifted and putting out each one gives me a smile. Some are bittersweet, like the Christmas Goofy we brought back from the Christmas we spent at Disneyland to distract ourselves the first year after my Dad had passed.
There is a string of blinking lights that belonged to my husband's beloved Nana. And the pretty silver balls topped with snow that we put on our first tree at our first Christmas together in our first little home.
I always put out the Christmas card where my then 3-year-old is choking my then 2-year-old — priceless. And this year we added a beautiful ornament that we choose together to commemorate our family vacation.
All those warm fuzzy feelings are living within the beautiful decorations. When I put them out, and they make my house so beautiful, it reminds me of how lucky we are to have this beautiful home to share with our family and friends.
December is filled with so many cherished holiday traditions. Our annual tree trimming, extended family gatherings, the school Christmas concert and mass, taking in at least one light display. The month is crazy busy with preparations such as shopping, decorating, and baking mixed with the usual schedules, but I love the mounting anticipation and positive energy of the season.
One tradition that my little family of three squeezes in is live theatre. I say ‘squeezes’ because each year we must wait for hockey to be re-tiered and scheduled before we see which days and tickets are still available. For the past five years, we enjoyed Tom Wood’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol at The Citadel Theatre.
Everything about it was captivating and inspiring. Stepping from the cold into the warm, beautifully decorated theatre. The set, costumes, script, acting, and music. Shaking hands afterward with the cast members collecting donations for the Edmonton Food Bank. I will never forget the first time we took Seth. Most six-year-olds wouldn’t have sat still for an entire play with such a grown-up storyline, but ours was enthralled.
This year was the first in nineteen that the Citadel Theatre presented a different adaptation of the time-honoured tale of three ghosts enlightening Scrooge on the spirit of Christmas. While aiming for the warmth and nostalgia of the previous version, the new version was set in the late 1940s/early 1950s, referenced classic Christmas songs and movies, and incorporated humour. For me, the versions were too different to compare, like books in different genres each enjoyable in its own right.
Over the years, we’ve also been to Christmas-themed plays at other local theatres. I don’t know which one we will attend next year, but I’m already looking forward to it. Our evening at the theatre pauses the busyness of the season, as fun as most of it is, and leaves me with a peaceful feeling. It’s the magic of live theatre and the holiday season.
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