Now that my li’l family seems to be out of the woods for now, sickness-wise (yes, my kids did trade germs with each other), it’s time to get FESTIVE!
I’ve realized something, as an adult: Christmas to me, now, is all about the season.
It was a fairly gradual shift from being super-duper-mega-crazy excited about PRESENTS (as a kid) to… you know, enjoying presents but being much more excited about other things.
Such as food!
- Clementines – we only buy them when they’re really good (even though these days they’re in grocery stores well past their peak).
- Cookies made specifically for Christmas… they’re just specialer. I’ve been lucky to be part of a cookie exchange for several years now – so all the more special cookies!!
- Egg nog – but ONLY President’s Choice World’s Best Egg Nog. No other kind is as good. (Well, maybe Organic Meadow.) And don’t even get me started on fat-free egg nog… A travesty.
- Nutcracker Sweet Tea – we can’t find it in stores these days, so my sister kindly
smuggled some over the borderfacilitated an Amazon order for me. It’s heavenly with the egg nog mentioned above.
- Christmas meals – some are different every year and some are recurring favourites, but I get stoked about them, and I don’t even eat turkey. (Posting recipes soon.) Folks bring their A-game dishes on Christmas.
And music. I could listen to Christmas music nonstop for all of December, but I think I’d drive my Hubbibi crazy. So we strike a balance, I think. As I’ve mentioned, traditional carols are my preference, but I like a lot of non-carols too. Some of my favourite holiday albums to listen to are:
- David Francey’s Carols for a Christmas Eve – Just simple and cozy and, well… I just adore David Francey. Luckily, so does the whole family. (Good King Wenceslas is my favourite on this one.)
- Canadian Brass’s Sweet Songs of Christmas – And anything else Canadian Brass does about Christmas. Those guys rock. We saw them live once, and if you’ve never seen a tuba player “melt” while playing Frosty the Snowman, you’re missing out.
- Les petits chanteurs du Mont-Royal’s Christmas Around the World – It took me a while to get used to the unfamiliar carols in different languages, but now I love them.
- Kevin Ramessar’s Acoustic Christmas – Beautiful guitar arrangements of Christmas carols (Away in a Manger is my fave). I would love this album even if Kevin weren’t a (wickedly talented) university friend of mine. Ahem-hem.
- The Barra-MacNeils’ The Christmas Album – A Canadian-Celtic folk album, with unusual versions of carols – some Gaelic (Christmas in Killarney is my fave).
- Steve Wingfield’s Sleigh Bell Swing – My mom sent me a cassette tape of this as part of a care package when I was in university, and I still use that tape – it’s worth it. (It IS on iTunes, though. Silver Bells is my fave.)
- Three Quarter Ale’s Shall We Gather By the Fire – A Renaissance Faire trio with an album that runs the gamut of styles from cheesy to sublime (Ding Dong Merrily on High is my fave).
Also, there are a few individual songs that make me cry, in a good way. I think it has to do with connecting Christmas and motherhood.
- Bing Crosby singing “Do You Hear What I Hear” (it’s just majestic and heartwarming)
- Harry Belafonte singing “The Gifts They Gave” (especially the doves singing the baby to sleep – oh)
- David Qualey’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” (it will transport you)
- Any good choir singing Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria” or Morten Lauridsen’s “O Magnum Mysterium” (if you want to get down with your FEELINGS, put on some headphones, close your eyes, and listen).
And of course there are holiday movies that must be enjoyed. Our family collection includes:
- Mickey’s Christmas Carol (including the short with Chip and Dale’s shenanigans in Mickey’s tree)
- The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (animated version with Boris Karloff)
- Miracle on 34th Street (1947 version)
- White Christmas (the best things happen while you’re dancing)
- It’s a Wonderful Life (still breaks my heart every single time)
- The Family Stone (I always laugh out loud, even though I know what’s coming)
- Joyeux Noël (again with the FEELINGS, man oh man).
And of course there’s The Holiday and Love Actually – not exactly Christmas movies, but they get an in for being set at Christmastime.
- Pretty lights
- Christmas trees and wreaths and boughs and whatnot (this image – and the design behind it – is from my friend Ardis at Rustic Retrievals)
- Snow (I hope – it still makes me happy for the first couple months)
- People singing together (I wish that happened more in life)
- Wood fires (at my parents’ house at least)
- Games and silly times with people I love
- Spending lots of time in pajamas
- Giving gifts that turn out to be perfect
- Everything reflected in the shining eyes of children – especially mine.