Christmas traditions: Jake & Michelle

Community

Jake Chisholm

Results Realty Atlantic Inc., REALTOR ®

Jake & Shaun’s Big Gay Affair, Producer

Traditions: the very core of most cultures, and homes across the globe. Something as little as attending a holiday market or cutting down a tree creates a comfort that brings most a slice of happiness during this time of year.

For me, celebrating Christmas has changed a lot. When I moved out on my own, I became somewhat of an orphan, especially since my immediate family still lived in Ontario. I had to create some traditions of my own, but it never felt the same. I came to realize that change had arrived, and life was moving onto a new chapter. Now my traditions had changed into a whole grouping of these moments of happiness, and the feeling of being cozy. Nothing I love more than to catch a snowy, blustery evening nestled at home listening to soft holiday music, and seeing the lights sparkle on the tree. It could also be attending the town’s annual Christmas tree lighting, and seeing children so excited for the magic.

Christmas Eve often brings me the most excitement. There is something about family being there, chatter amongst the aunts, glasses clicking in a toast, and the bustle of moving house to house.

Traditions come and go, they take different shapes and forms. They can be precise, or laid back. Create your own moments of coziness. It’s remarkable what we’re capable of. Bring the magic back, see the sparkle in the lights. So traditions, eh? The very core.

Michelle Davey

Curator/Site Manager

McCulloch House Museum & Genealogy Centre

Christmas traditions in our family have always included family, friends, laughter and food. Our Christmas tradition isn’t really a “thing” but a sense of comfort and well-being; our traditions bring our families together and create lasting memories for all of us.

Our holidays begin on Christmas Eve and extend over the three days. Once my sisters and I became adults and had families of our own, my Mom started hosting Christmas Eve hors d’oeuvres and appetizers at her house late afternoon and into the evening every Christmas Eve. Sometimes, the scallops, crab dip, meatballs and homemade desserts were interspersed with board games, making snowmen or playing in the rain, or even the occasional fireworks when the grandchildren were young. To hurry the little ones back in doors before Santa arrived, our daughter and the other grandchildren would be permitted to open at least one gift from their grandparents — and occasionally every present to be found. The evening was spent enjoying the unwrapping of everything from Guitar Hero to a brick wrapped in a dozen boxes each secured with duct tape or crazy glue. Lots of laughs, more food, a little wine and an endless pile of wrapping. Every year the mess got bigger and the teasing got louder.

Following Christmas at Nanny’s, the three of us would pile in the car already full of all of the gifts bestowed upon us. Sometimes barely enough room to snap the car seat on an excited little girl in the backseat. The short drive to Papa & Nanny’s house was filled with Christmas carols and constant chatter about the aunts and uncles and cousins that would be waiting for us in Caribou. Traditionally, a meal was offered after midnight mass and as the families grew larger with exhausted children and bedtimes, a big traditional dinner of ham and scallop potatoes was served earlier, around 9 p.m., or impatiently waiting for the last family arrival (often this would be us!) As we pulled up to the door, we could hear the voices and the laughter coming from around the giant dining room table piled high with food and Nanny’s festive tablecloth that we could see from the front door. A blast of heat from the wood stove hit us as soon as we opened the door to the old log house. But the biggest laughs were yet to come with Daddy’s jokes, teasing, tickling and sarcastic wit that didn’t subside just because it was Christmas — if anything, the jokes were funnier and the food tasted better.

Looking back now, as the babies have become young adults, our daughter still reminds me that these Christmas traditions have become her favourite life-time memories. It wasn’t the gifts she remembered but the faces around the table, the teasing, the family stories and hearing stories of when her parents were little or life on Pictou Island when Nanny was a girl. Just as our babies grow up, our traditions have changed along with them. Jokes get racier, Barbies become iphones, and we lose some of the voices and faces around the table. Sometimes traditions adjust to losing some of those voices and faces from the family dynamics and we look for ways to incorporate the old traditions with the new, and create new customs to celebrate the old.

As life changes and we alter our traditions, the values of family, friends and laughter remain the core tradition in our holiday tradition — in whatever capacity that may be.