Getting our Christmas Tree at the farm
Christmas is a special time of year for children. Family traditions are so important and become the things we remember most over the years. I cannot remember one gift I received in 1962 or 1964 but recall that we always had a paper advent calendar on a window with little doors we opened in turn.
We went to my uncle's farm to select a Christmas tree and decorated it with the same ornaments each year.
Mom baked sugar cookies, shortbreads, marshmallow rolls and Christmas cake and we were allowed two treats a day from a special tray. Grandad always sent us an ornate gingerbread house early in December which we smashed and ate after the New Year.
Christmas Eve was spent at Grandma's house and we each had to perform a song or recite a poem for the extended family. We didn't have a fireplace and Santa left our stockings at the end of our beds.
Dad always read the Christmas story from the Bible before we opened our gifts Christmas morning. We received a toy, a book and a piece of clothing every year. Mom let us make table ornaments for the dinner table and party favours for our guests on Christmas Day.
Our own children have identified their favourite Christmas activities and I am in trouble if I try to alter something which is particularly meaningful to them.
We had a Christmas dinner for patients and their families at the hospital today. Most of them have been with us for months and will not go home this holiday season or ever. A volunteer was playing Silent Night on the piano and I noticed one of my patients was crying. I went to her to see what was wrong.
She held my hand and simply said, "That is a Portugese carol."
The music transported her back to her childhood in Portugal where she had sung that tune with family at a special time of year. I did not correct her and tell her it was written by a German musician. It was a memory from her homeland, the words remembered in her native language, a link to happier times and people she loved.
What are your favourite Christmas traditions?