More Christmas Eve traditions

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The holiday season is all about trees, mincemeat and more family food favourites for this reader who shares his favourite Christmas Eve traditions …

Jim Stewart

Town Crier

New Glasgow

The Christmas season is truly a time for reflection and tradition and as I write this, I feel much like the Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol. I have seen many Christmases and hope to see many more. No two have been the same, however, there are traditions that become a yearly event and days leading up to the holiday are filled with planning, gift wrapping and of course food preparation. Since 2014, the Christmas season begins for me with the cutting of the Province of Nova Scotia’s Tree for Boston in mid-November. For six years in my role as town crier of New Glasgow I have had the honour and privilege of presenting this annual gift to the City of Boston. The tree would normally arrive the week before American Thanksgiving. I was always amazed how decorated the city and ready it was in November. As I walked the streets of Boston Christmas music filled the air and although still November it did feel like Christmas. I am happy to see even with the many changes and restrictions in place a tree from Nova Scotia has made its arrival on the Boston Common to bring the Christmas Spirit to Bostonians. Closer to home, family traditions revolve around music, both new and traditional, classic Christmas movies and specials, family gatherings and a Christmas Eve church service. Many of these traditions trigger memories of the past and offer a time to remember and reflect on times gone by.

Christmas Eve Day usually began with a family visit and delivery of gifts to my Aunt Lil in Sutherland’s River. This visit usually secured me a jar of mincemeat that would later become a pie and be topped with vanilla ice cream. This tradition began when my children were very young and continued until her passing in June of 2019. I am happy to say the “secret ingredients” have been passed down to my daughter Mary and I look forward to the return of Aunt Lil’s Mincemeat.

Over the years there have been a number of dishes I would make each Christmas season: Chili (which was called Santa Claus Stew) if made on Christmas Eve and a bowl left for Santa to warm him as he made his journey across the world; Lasagna which was always handy if unexpected visitors arrived over the holidays. Chowder and biscuits, Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Chicken Wings, Caesar Salad and Butter Tart Squares are all dishes that seem to make a yearly appearance.

Christmas of 2020 will no doubt be one long remembered. Most events have been cancelled or restructured so those that do attend can do so safely. This Christmas Eve I will be participating in an event called “Ring A Bell for Santa” at 6 p.m. Town Criers and others all over the world will ring their bells for two minutes to help guide Santa and celebrate Christmas.

By ringing a bell or shining a light

We will help Santa , this very night.

Across the world he goes, on his sleigh

Grateful that we helped him find his way

Thank you for helping, on this special night

To assist Santa Claus, you know was right.

Tomorrow brings presents and having a ball.

A very Merry Christmas to one and all.

By shining a light or ringing a bell

Remember to keep us all, safe and well.