Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas past and present

Now that all our family lives the other side of the world, we write a four-page newsletter each year, with the year's news and lots of pictures. We were late starting this year, with so many weekends taken up by Guide and Scout camps, and then at the last minute we ran out of ink. But the newsletters are finally printed and cards mailed. Way too late to make it, but better late than never.

Now that's done, I finally feel like things are more-or-less under control and I started reminiscing on Christmas memories and family traditions.

My memories of Christmas past

From my earliest memories Christmas day was always special, long before my child's mind even associated it with Santa Claus and gifts.

I remember sounds and smells. The house felt different as Mum and Dad both set to preparing for dinner. I remember the sense of anticipation. The turkey cooking in the Aga and filling the house with a delicious aroma all morning. We had just a handful of Christmas albums which my Dad played and hummed along to, and which I came to associate with the season.

As I grew old enough to recognise the cycle from one year to the next, certain patterns became established. Unwrapping gifts in the morning. Turkey dinner with my Mum's parents. Then a big party with my Dad's family in the evening - lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins, a huge spread of cold food, and games and laughter. Lots of laughter.

Christmas present

Now we are on our own, in a different country, things have changed. We've started to establish our own traditions.

The leisurely preparation of turkey dinner is still there. And the early morning invasion of excited children, except now we are on the receiving end of it, rubbing sleep from eyes as the bed turns into a recycler's nightmare of shredded paper and discarded packaging.

Most of our present traditions are in the lead-up to Christmas. The newsletter. Putting the outside lights up. Visiting the Christmas Tree Farm to select the perfect tree.
School concerts and skating parties. Christmas in the Village at Heritage Acres, with the nighttime ride on the miniature railway and hot drinks in the bustling schoolhouse.
The festive lights at Butchart Gardens, and a drive around the neighbourhood to see the houses all lit up.

One thing do I miss is those raucous parties with the extended family, and I'm sad that I can't offer that to my own children.

I wonder, in years to come, what memories will linger for them?


  1. Very poignant post, Ian. And love the pics! Wow, they really go all out with the lights in that neighborhood, huh? :)

    I cherish my own childhood memories of Christmas. No matter how bad I had it, I can honestly admit that my family did go all out to make that one day seem pretty special for us kids.

    Your children will no doubt have just as fond memories of the traditions you've started with them here on the other side of the hemisphere.

  2. Beautiful memories. Don't worry, your children will have plenty of special memories about Christmas.

  3. Very nice post, beautiful memories.

  4. Wow, that's a lot of neighborhood lights! Sounds like you're giving them a lot of memorable Christmas experiences. :)

  5. Thanks all, I like to think that the children have some good memories to take with them through life. I just never thought about it quite like that before.

    David, Jean, I realise my post was a bit misleading, those lights are at Butchart Gardens, but some neighbourhoods are equally well lit. I'll have to get some pics this year.

    Delores, farawayeyes, yes I have some very fond childhood memories of this time of year.

  6. Lovely post, Botanist. Merry Christmas to you and yours! :)

  7. Thanks Carrie, and Merry Christmas to you also.

  8. This is a beautiful post... it's the celebration of light that I love most during this darkest time of the year. They are so festive and cheerful!

    Thanks for sharing of Christmases past and the Christmas present.


  9. Want to know something funny? Was checking last years Christmas posts and saw your comment re the Toblerone Cheesecake. Missed it last year! Glad you enjoyed it! Having it again? I am!

    Merry Christmas!


  10. Saloma, you're welcome! I like that people put so much effort into the outdoor decorations here.

    That's so funny, Denise, and thanks for the recipe. I have made it many times since, including varying the flavors. It's a favourite with the kids. Merry Christmas.

  11. Wishing you and yours a peaceful time over the festive season. With love from Bazza of “To Discover Ice”

  12. Hey there Botanist! Coming back to say I missed the ice cream in the cocktail recipe if you're going to try it!

  13. Greetings Ian,
    And here I am having a Christmas somewhat like yours, only in reverse.
    And yet, my dear friend, you will have wonderful, joyous times with your children as you continue with your new adventure on Vancouver Island.
    And you cherish those memories of the past. Now you will savour the memories you share with your children during your Canadian Christmas.
    All the best and maybe have some egg nog :)

  14. Thank you, bazza, and I wish you all the best this Christmas too.

    Denise, I wondered if there should have been ice cream in there too!

    Gary, I'm sure we will have a wonderful time with the kids, and I wish you some much-needed joy too in this season of goodwill.

  15. They'll have their own special memories. They won't be the same as yours, but they'll be special just the same.

  16. Yes, it is surprising sometimes what memories they cherish. Sometimes it turns out to be things you didn't think they cared the least about.

    Merry Christmas!

  17. Al & Donna, I'm sure they'll have their own special memories. I just hope I can remember in later life to ask them what they are.

  18. This a beautiful post. I wish that the joy, the love and the wonder could last all year long. It flies by so fast...


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