This time of year I can’t help but reflect on  special memories of Christmas.  Last year I was living alone, and my brother Garth and sister-in-law Janice invited me to their place.  They welcomed me with open arms and made it very special for me.  I had a few hours in the afternoon before Christmas dinner and had always wanted to have the experience of volunteering at a homeless shelter, so I spent some time at Tenille’s Hope, an organization here in Whitecourt that feeds the homeless, and realized how lucky I am to have family and the many traditions we grew up with.  It made me appreciate everything I have so much more.

We celebrated many Christmas’ at our family home on Whitecourt Mountain.  All of my siblings and their children braved the winter roads and came home for Christmas.  There were 30 or more of us at that time, there are many more of us now.

The Christmas tree was always one that Dad found in the bush on our land.  Mom and us kids would decorate the tree and it always looked so beautiful.  We would help with the baking and making lefse, a treat that only came at Christmas time

On Christmas Eve we would play the piano, guitars and sing Christmas carols.  The grandchildren would entertain us with little song and dance ‘skits’ that they made up, and Grandma would always read T’was the Night Before Christmas to the little ones, before going to bed so Santa could come.

One year we decided to have an “old-fashioned” Christmas.  We drew names and made the rule that instead of store bought gifts they all had to be handmade.  Many of us stayed up well past midnight on Christmas Eve to finish our projects that we had made for each other. 

The next day we were so excited to open our gifts.  I made my brother-in-law a pair of sweat pants.  He wore them for years after and said they were the most comfortable sweat pants he had ever worn!   There were handmade toy boxes for the kids, hand knit sweaters, cross-stitch pictures, etc.  The love that went into those gifts was more meaningful than anything you could buy in the store. 

The men made Christmas dinner that year.  They wanted to switch it up and change the tradition of mom and us girls doing all the cooking, and it was absolutely delicious.  It was just as good as any Christmas dinner we had had before, and it made us appreciate them even more.  After dinner, we took turns and shared what we were grateful for.  All of us were grateful for the people surrounding the table that Christmas day.

So what special memories do you have of Christmas?    What Christmas traditions do you celebrate that makes them memorable? I would love to hear about them!

To wonderful memories,


Well it’s December, and the Christmas season is fast approaching.  We hustle and bustle about getting the Christmas cards written and sent, baking exuberant amounts of goodies, shopping till we drop, decorating the house, the dog, and everything else in our paths; attend parties, concerts, etc.   So much to do, and we worry there won’t be enough time to do it.  Christmas comes, whether we are ready for it or not, and it always turns out.  So why do we put ourselves through all that STRESS?

A few years ago, I realized that all the stress just wasn’t worth it.  It zapped my energy, and robbed me of enjoying the season and it’s meaning with the people I love.  I decided I had to make some changes. 

So many of the things I was doing were family tradition, many things my mom always did at Christmas time.  Things I thought had to be done in order to celebrate Christmas.   I decided it was time to make my own traditions and do things my way, the way that would fit in with my busy lifestyle and help me enjoy the true meaning of Christmas.

I stopped writing and mailing out the 50 or so Christmas cards – I reverted to writing one letter to my friends and family and emailed it instead.  Some may think this is not as personal, but I am still able to connect and share my news with everyone.  It saves in postage and those cards don’t get dumped in the landfill come January.

I stopped doing the mounds of baking that I was doing.  I found that my Christmas guests ate very little of it, and most of it was eaten by me.   Now I make one or two favorites that allows for a little indulgence, but I also ensure there are healthy options like the traditional Japanese oranges and assorted nuts.  I can just buy these at the store.  Not only am I healthier, but my family is too, and I don’t have to worry anymore about all the extra pounds I have put on over the holidays.

I stopped buying gifts for all my friends since high school, aunts, uncles, cousins, teachers, the doctor, vet and mailman, and concentrated on my immediate family only.  I plan one day for shopping.  I make a list so I do not have to run around several times.  I invite my friends and family over for a visit and they don’t seem to miss the gift giving.  I buy gift cards when I can.  I think people like to buy their own presents; they don’t need to worry about receiving another ugly Christmas sweater from me. 

There are times when tradition needs to be put in perspective and new ones created that fit with our lifestyles today.  No one seemed to mind the changes I made, and no one seemed to notice--only me.  By simplifying and spending less time rushing around in the preparation, I have much less stress, much more energy and am able to enjoy more time with the people who make my holidays rosey. 

Stress-free and Care-free,