Christmas is a wonderful, sometimes chaotic time of year. It is a time of traditions, both old and new, some passed on from those who are no longer with us but are often in our thoughts.
Do you eat fruitcake? It is believed that ancient Egyptians buried loved ones with fruitcake as food for the afterlife. No wonder it has a long shelf life!
Witches and evil spirits play a part in some European countries. Austria has ‘Krampus’, a devil who beats naughty children with branches. In Norway, people hide their brooms so witches can’t steal them. And in Catalonia, Spain, a nativity scene will contain a caganer figurine (a man defecating). It apparently signifies fertility and good fortune.
Our blended family has started a new tradition of cutting our Christmas tree instead of buying one from the closest tree lot. In previous years, we have gone to the Junior Forest Wardens’ lot out in Kananaskis where you can cut any size of lodgepole pine. A fire pit on the weekend along with hot dogs, chili and hot chocolate makes for a fun afternoon!
This year we decided to get a tree cutting permit from the Alberta government so we could go closer to home and have more options for types of trees to cut. We had a sunny day and the snow sparkled in a way that is hard to photograph. We drove out to McLean Creek in Kananaskis and went for a little hike into the woods to find not just a good tree, but the perfect tree. A small frozen pond and a clearing gave us many options and we finally settled on the best.
It was a bit of a trek back to the truck, and we stopped for fun on the pond. Chester really wanted to be with the kids, but the snow was too deep. They stayed for a bit and when they started back to the truck, they saw a moose in the distance. Too bad I missed it!! I have to say, I feel very lucky to be able to drive for thirty minutes and have this view!
Once home, we put on the carols and pulled out all of the lights and decorations. I love this part too! My partner’s traditional tree decorations are red or made from straw and they mix well with our multi-coloured ornaments. My step daughter commented that she remembered our first Christmas together when she realised that there were other colours that could go on the tree. Many of our decorations have stories attached and often get a special place at eye level.
One thing for which I am thankful is that the kids are taller now. I have always let them decorate the tree and, although it was sometimes hard not to re-arrange it, I lived for a number of years with decorations predominantly on the bottom half. I remember my son would move things around almost every day when he was younger so I would wake up to a new tree each morning. Things seem to be stationary so far this year :).
I hope that you enjoy time with family and friends over the holidays. Merry Christmas and here’s to a wonderful 2017!!