I have fond memories of Christmas when I was a child. Besides the concerts and thoughts of school break we had the expectations of what would happen in the upcoming days.
On Christmas Eve, my mom, dad, sister and I would stay home and have a nice meal followed by opening of the gifts. I don’t know if this was primarily because of our maternal Scandinavian roots, lack of patience, or anticipation of a very busy Christmas day but we always loved to not have to wait until the twenty-fifth for the presents. Then we would go across the street to the church for a candlelight service just before midnight. I can still close my eyes and hear the harmonic chords of the “Silent Night” singing from long ago.
Christmas Day was spent with mom’s two sisters and their families. This meant that in some years we would be the hosts, and, in the others, we would travel by car for the day. More gifts, more food, more fun!
Then on Boxing Day, we joined dad’s family at my Aunt Eleanor’s house in the small village of Richardson, near Regina. Such a lot of work to prepare two meals for a packed house! In between all the eating there was Monopoly for the children, bridge for four of the women and the traditional rounds of King Pedro played by my paternal grandparents and their adult children. Gales of laughter ring in my memory. Often, they had been initiated by my dad or Uncle Norman who would bluff, win the bid and then reveal that they didn’t have the king to support their hand!
It seemed that there was always a snowstorm on the trip back home and sometimes we even had to turn back to Regina to stay over for a night.
Yes, Christmas of my childhood was so busy and such a lot of work for everyone. Planning, cooking, shopping, driving, and mounds of dishes to wash! Sometimes I wished that we could have stayed home to watch the new television that was advertising Christmas movies or just play with our toys. But today I give thanks for the wonderful relationships with cousins and the memories that would not otherwise have been made.
So now we are on the threshold of Christmas in a very different world that has evolved not only when it comes to travel, technology and expectations but also one that has been thrown into a pandemic world of fear and restrictions. Things are not and will likely never be the same as in our childhood.
So, what can you do this year to touch the lives of others in a meaningful way and make beautiful memories to treasure? Here are some thoughts to ponder:
- Send messages of cheer to others – I still love sending and receiving physical cards and letters by snail mail but also use social media to share positive greetings.
- Bake at least one thing that you love and enjoy eating it. The recipe may be one from your past or one that you have just started using. Better yet, make enough to share some with another person.
- Add a simple seasonal decoration for others to enjoy. This June, when I moved into my new condo building in Calgary, I was surprised that my door was the only one on the floor that had my name and a floral bouquet. A couple of days ago, I chuckled after noticing that the neighbour across the hall had added a Christmas decoration to their door shortly after my wreath was hung. Was this coincidence or did I actually inspire someone? (We’re the only two so far).
- Buy yourself a gift. Every year I buy something nice that will make my soul sing. This year I opened a couple of the gifts early – like the different-sized scoops that I will use for muffin and cookie baking.
- Dress up in your snazziest best. A red bowtie, sparkly sweater or colourful boutonniere will brighten up the mood for you and everyone you encounter.
- Play seasonal tunes. Within a few bars, you will find yourself humming along.
- Share your cheeriest greeting and glowing smile with others – even if they are strangers. Joy is contagious!
- Make a holiday agenda – especially if you will be alone. Perhaps a craft, puzzle, or special movie will capture your attention.
- Give something to someone who isn’t usually on your list. It is even fun to leave a gift at the door of someone you hardly know.
- Count your blessings. Rather than focusing on the losses of the year, think about the things you still have or can create.
And remember, this Christmas offers you choices. Just put your old-dated expectations to the side and build some new traditions.