A Christmas Story

Twas the week (or two) before Christmas

Below is a recap of my Christmas holidays (and family traditions)… as influenced by the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.  I’m the daughter 🙂

Once upon a time, there was a family who loved Christmas and had developed some interesting, fun and truly Canadian traditions to celebrate the holiday.  To start the holiday season, the daughter would come home and go out into the forest with her father to find the perfect Christmas tree – a blue spruce.  They did this every year except the few times the daughter was living abroad.  This year it had just snowed the day before they ventured into the woods so everything was fresh and white for their tree-finding adventure.  After walking for a bit along the logging trail, the father spotted a nice spruce (not a blue one unfortunately, but one loaded with tiny cones that would add to the ambiance of the holidays) a little ways into the forest.  As the father cut down the tree, the daughter watched from a safe distance away, when what did she see but a snowshoe hare come bounding out at her.  It was hard to say who was more surprised, the rabbit or the girl!  Soon afterwards, the tree was ready to go and the two headed back home for some hot spiced cider.

The next part of their family tradition was the decorating of the tree and a few days later, the father set up the tree and wound the Christmas lights around it.  Next it was the daughter turn to cover the tree in garlands before the mother joined in the fun and they both finished by loading it up with beautiful ornaments (some homemade, some from the children’s own hand and some from a store).  When the tree was decorated to everyone’s delight, pictures were taken and more mulled cider was drank (mmm… what’s Christmas without mulled cider!).

The day of Christmas Eve dawns bright and cold, and when the daughter became an adult years ago it became her responsibility to cook both lunch and dinner on Christmas Eve – as a Christmas present to her mother (a day of rest).  Over the years the menu had changed every year until the daughter brought back some new recipes from a visit to Thailand – Phad Thai and spring rolls made from scratch.  Lunch was usually a homemade soup.  This year was no different as she prepared a homemade sweet potato soup for lunch which turned out to be yummy, if perhaps a tad spicy for the mother.  Dinner was a much more complicated affair as spring rolls take forever but the result is worth it.  The daughter gathered her ingredients and prepared the filling, rolled it up using the rice wrappers and set them aside wrapped in a damp towel until it was time to deep-fry them.  Phat Thai was next, and much easier.  The family enjoyed the Thai meal – even if the daughter wasn’t happy with the quality of the wrappers she used for the spring rolls (which ripped way too easy) – and the nice conversation that followed.  Christmas Eve could not be complete without each member of the family opening one present just before bed so that’s how the evening concluded.

There is one other tradition that evolved once the daughter reached adulthood – she started to do a stocking for her parents.  This year her brother chipped in to help finance the venture but the fun is in the selection!  The daughter LOVES to shop (for herself, for family, for friends, for groceries…) and this is one of her favourite traditions.  But of course, she has to wake up in the middle of the night, once everyone has gone to bed to bring down the stockings – filled to the brim – so it’s a lovely “surprise” from Santa.  Hey, there is a Santa!!

Finally, it was Christmas morning.  And the daughter – who normally hates mornings and thinks the day, should start at 11 am – bounded out of bed wide awake at 7 am.  Santa had come and there were stockings overflowing for everyone, plus more presents than she could count (the daughter loves to wrap everything individually and in boxes that won’t let the recipient guess – like the gift certificate in a box of Kleenex or an Edmonton Oiler toothbrush in a box within a bigger box).  The daughter played Santa – dressed in her red pj’s she kinda looked like him (minus the beard) – and handed out the presents to her family.  Christmas morning was spent drinking tea with sinful (but delicious) cream and opening presents.  Then the phone calls to the family members who weren’t there followed and finally it was the second best part of Christmas – dinner.  When Christmas dinner was all ready, the family – mother, father, daughter, son and an uncle – sat down with a nice bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape to eat their wild turkey dinner.  There was so much delicious food – wild turkey, mashed potatoes, carrots, gravy, and of course cranberries.  Christmas day ends with the daughter happy and full!

The second last tradition is only the daughter’s tradition as she is the only one who loves to shop.  What is it?  Boxing Day sales of course!  The daughter drove into Peterborough to hit the sales at the mall – Sears and Ricky’s were good, H&M was okay, but overall… it was kind of disappointing.  Last year’s was much better.  But there were still some great buys to be had as one navigated around the teenagers who just seemed to be hanging out.  The daughter couldn’t spend too much time shopping though because she had to hurry home, her truck was going to turn into a pumpkin (oops, mixing stories) at 3:30 pm.

Finally, it was time for the family’s final Christmas tradition – and yes, the daughter made it home with 15 minutes to spare.  What was the final Christmas tradition?  Watching the World Junior Hockey Championship of course, or more accurately, watching Canada win gold at the WJHC!  The first game is always on Boxing Day.  The daughter joined the father and son in the living room and grabbed a chair.  She was all ready – with cranberry ginger ale in one hand and her laptop at her feet (so she could tweet about the game) – she was ready to cheer on her team to victory!

And that, faithful readers, is the story of The Week Before Christmas in the Zimmer household!  Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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