Over the past several days you have been reading about the favourite Christmas Eve traditions of some of our readers.
For one local resident it’s all about church, family and sisters.
Lisa M. Smith
CEO Glen Haven Manor
Christmas Eves at our home in River Hebert, Cumberland County, were filled with gatherings, traditions, laughter, music, amazing food and tons of fun. Our mother and father created a magical, loving home and holiday. My two younger sisters Lori and Lynn and I would write our letters to Santa together and we could pick out one big gift and two smaller ones and we were never disappointed. One year, we received letters back from Santa and when he wrote about me being a brownie and I knew right there he truly was magic, and my belief in him was steadfast for years to come. We always attended the early Mass as a family all dressed in our Christmas best. There would be a pretty holiday-style dress for my sisters and me as well as bright, shiny black patent leather shoes. Our mother made sure everything was just right and she would also be dressed to the nines, the epitome of fashion and style. By the age of 10, I became a reader in church so presenting a piece at Mass that evening was a highlight for me as well as for my sisters, with all three of us doing readings. Our priest and my mother coached us, and we would be so excited to have the opportunity to do this is front of our family, neighbours and friends. I can still see the candles in the church glowing in the frosted windows and hear the stirring Christmas carols being sung in harmony. Having an Advent wreath was important to us and to light the last candle in church as well as to decorate the Jessie Tree leading up to Christmas. You knew everyone in church and there was such a festive feel to it. After the Mass there would be big hugs and chats and such a strong sense of community. This continued throughout the years and it was always a time to reconnect and strengthen bonds. After Mass, other family members and close friends would come to our house and there would be an amazing buffet of favourite dishes and sweets. Our family’s background is Acadian, and my mother would make the most delicious “pottie” which she was known for and this tradition is carried on today by her chosen family, Karen and Rick Rhodes. Pottie dates back to the 1100s and has been passed on from generation to generation as part of Acadian Christmas Eve customs. There would also be lasagna, pies, shortbread cookies, and an incredible assortment of squares. Music and dancing in our home were the other staples. From classic Christmas songs to Elvis and Alvin and the Chipmunks to Dolly Parton’s and Kenny Rogers’ I’ll Be Home with Bells On, we knew all the words to every song. On Christmas Eve, we would be allowed to open one special present, and being the oldest I always gave the choice to my sisters. I knew that whosever gift we chose, the presents would be similar for each of us so I didn’t want to spoil the surprises. Lori, Lynn, and I would then get into our Christmas pajamas and when we were little girls, right up to being young adults, we would all snuggle and sleep in the same bed on Christmas Eve. We could barely contain our excitement. As children we fell asleep to the sounds of the adults downstairs talking and the joy that filled our home. We were always wide awake in the early morning hours, always ready to open our presents by 4 a.m. Before we could go down and see what Santa and his elves had left for us, the three of us would wait at the top of the stairs with Mommy, while Daddy checked to make sure Santa had come, turned on the Christmas tree and all the lights and started the furnace. It always seemed to take him forever but as soon as he said ‘okay girls’ we would be down in a flash. Our parents made sure we had the best traditions and memories to last us a lifetime.
More traditions will be shared over the next few days …