First, let me say I LOVE CHRISTMAS!
For me, Christmas is not so much about the gifts, I just love all the traditions and history around this holiday.
Tradition #1: Christmas Tree – I love getting a real tree. When the kids were little and we lived in NH, getting a tree was a big deal. Peter had a hockey friend who owned a farm. In the summer we would go and pick strawberries, in the fall we would go pick our pumpkin for Halloween and in preparation for Christmas, we would go pick and tag our tree just before Thanksgiving and then we would go and cut it the first Saturday of December, just after I ran the ”Jingle Bell” 5 km run. One year, Thing 1 even ran it with me. She complained the entire 5 km but that’s when I knew she would one day, be a runner.
We still get a tree today. We get one in Bermuda and Thing 1 has already ordered one from her high school friend who’s family owns a tree farm near the cottage. Can’t wait to pick it up with Thing 2 and decorate it. What does the tree represent? Well, as Pope John Paul said back in 2004, ”the Christmas tree a symbol of Christ. This very ancient custom, he said, exalts the value of life, as in winter what is evergreen becomes a sign of undying life, and it reminds Christians of the “tree of life” of Genesis 2:9, an image of Christ, the supreme gift of God to humanity.”
I don’t know if that is really true? What I used to tell Thing 1 and Thing 2 is that we needed a tree with lights for Santa to know where to put the gifts. Whatever, I love me a real Balsam Fur this time of the year.
Our Tree in Bermuda this year.
Tradition #2: Christmas Decorations – When we moved back to Bermuda, one of my floaties, Maria, came to help on moving day. Maria is a very take charge kind of lady so when one of the trucks pulled up and they mostly had stuff for the garage, she quickly told me, ”I’m on it I will arrange the garage for you.” More than an hour later she was done and entered my kitchen by saying, ”Wow! I thought I had a lot of Christmas decorations but I think you have more than me.” Yes, we have loads. I have some here, (8 rubbermaid boxes, one small fake tree and we had to go and buy lights since we needed lights with North American plugs. So, when I take everything down, it will be more like 9 maybe 10 boxes because we also got more stuff too.) When I was at the cottage back in November, I brought up I think another 6 boxes of decorations and the kids have at least two in their condo. Let’s just say that over the years, we have accumulated lots of Christmas decorations. I sort of dread the day we move back to Canada, and look at all my stuff but I will cross that bridge when I get there.
In the meantime, my army of Nutcrackers is growing every year, as well as my collection of tree ornaments and, Christmas linens for the kitchen and bedroom.
Outdoor lights in Bermuda.
Daddy Cool needs his cushions….and at Xmas time, they become red and purple!
Some of my Nutcrackers. I have more around the house and a platoon at the cottage.
Outdoor Christmas lights at the Cottage.
Last year I added a new tradition, the Christmas Advent wreath. I did this in remembrance of my mom who passed away. Every year, for as long as I can remember, my father bought her a Christmas wreath that the florist would deliver along with some poinsettias, just before the first Sunday of December. My mom would then start lighting the candles on the first Sunday of Advent and each Sunday after that, leading to Christmas day. She would light the one in the middle on Christmas day. It was a tradition that she cherished and since last Christmas was our first one without her, I decided to start that tradition for myself. Today, (when I return from yet another swim meet! I will light the second candle.)
My Advent Calendar.
Tradition #3: Baking!
This is an important one for the Coopers. We all have our favorites, Daddy Cool and Thing 2 love their shortbread’s and fudge. Thing 1 loves to bake anything under the sky. She has been sending recipes ever since she received the Christmas Edition of the Food Network magazine. I like trying new recipes too but it’s funny how we all come back to the same ones all the time. Nanny’s fudge. Nanny’s shortbread. Buttertarts, chocolate and peppermint biscottis (to have with the Xmas morning coffee and baileys, another wonderful tradition, baileys in your coffee on Christmas day!) I also bake a couple tourtières, Cassava Pie (a must every year or else I think La Famiglia would go on strike) and loads of other stuff. At the moment, my grocery list for when I arrive in Canada on Dec. 17th, is pretty long.
Tradition #4: Christmas music – We have this big Christmas music playlist on Spotify and we start listening to Christmas music every where we go, starting American Thanksgiving. So, even if radio stations decide to pull some songs from their playlists (”Baby it’s cold outside), it doesn’t matter, it’s on my playlist.
Tradition #5: Christmas movies – We love to watch Christmas movies until the big day. When the kids were little, I used to love the 12 days of Christmas on ABC family channel. We used to watch the old claymation and animated movies like ”Rudolf”, ”Frosty the snowman”, ”Charlie Brown Christmas etc…” Nowadays, we enjoy watching the adult ones such as, ”the Family Stone”, ”Nothing like the Holidays”, ”Elf” and ”This Christmas” among others. We sit together, the four of us, with some popcorn and wine and we watch our movies. We have watched these movies so much that we get into reciting the lines along. It’s good fun.
Tradition #6: Christmas Day – When the big day finally arrives, we tend to spend most of the day in our PJs. Now that the kids are older, we don’t need to wake up at the crack of dawn to see if Santa has been by. We can get up whenever we feel like it and take our time to open our presents while having copious amounts of coffee with baileys. After the presents, we usually have a big breakfast, and then we settle down for a ”Lord of the Rings” marathon while playing cards and some board games. Somewhere in there, we managed to put the turkey in the oven and around 4 pm, Thing 2 puts his bartender hat on and makes everyone a cocktail while the rest of us makes dinner.
The rest of the holidays are spent visiting with family and friends and now that we have the cottage, I am certain we will add new traditions.
There you have it, some of our traditions. Some have changed throughout the years or simply, we adapt to whatever is going on in a certain year but one thing is for sure, as long as I have Daddy Cool, Thing 1 and Thing 2 with me, it’s perfect. The rest is just extra.
What are you Christmas traditions?