Holiday traditions: why not adopt a new one this year?

Montreal parents share their traditions that help make the holiday season special



I thought it would be interesting to run a story about family traditions for our December issue. And then it struck me – I don’t really have any myself; unless you consider drinking port while decorating the Christmas tree a tradition.

In the past few years, I’ve noticed a good friend of mine always bakes Breton Brittle (an addictive combination of Breton crackers, dark chocolate and caramel) at Christmas as well as cheese crackers and her version of Bits & Bites. She also cooks a seafood casserole every Boxing Day. It has taught me that there is something comforting in traditions (especially in the form of sweet or salty food) – it gives everyone something to look forward to as well as something fond to look back on.

So I asked Montreal Families’ Facebook followers to share what makes their holiday seasons special, year in, and year out.  And maybe I will adopt one or two myself… I am especially keen on the first one on the list.

Kathy Smith — Florida.

Laura Hodges — We invite people of various faiths over and have a big meal with Jews, Muslims and Catholics and we have a great old time! We do this on Christmas Day since most people have it off. Everyone brings something and the food is out of this world!

Yanishka Beljaars — Every year since my kids were born, I make an ornament for each of them with their name on. When they move out, they can use them to decorate their own tree.

Tracey Adamson — We collect ornaments but we try to find one that signifies a milestone that year ... a school bus for Kindergarten, pair of skates for first year of hockey, a tent for first year at camp, a car for first driving lesson, and so on. It makes a nice ‘starter’ collection when they move out.

Tanya Bagshaw — We celebrate New Years at 9 p.m. with our big extended family. We used to ring in the New Year early so the little kids could get to bed. Now that some of them are teens or early 20s it’s great that they still come to celebrate with the family before going out with friends. We eat, set off small fireworks in the snow outside then the little kids tear apart a huge gingerbread house made by grandma.

Maureen Miklos Hodges — We drive in bad weather.

Sandie Schroeder Blair — Every year I buy everyone pyjamas (young and old) and we open them Christmas Eve, wear them to bed that night and pretty much all of Christmas Day!

Caroline Bougie — On Christmas Eve, my husband dresses up as Santa! He walks down our street in his santa suit and makes his way to our house! My brother-in-law usually helps him put his Santa suit on and apply the make-up!

Nathalie Caron — We have two, which both started when my daughter was 2 (she’s 5 now). I take a day between Christmas and New Year’s and bring the family to Granby Zoo and we spend New Year’s Eve at Sucrerie de la Montagne, a sugar shack in Rigaud. We have a blast every time!

Suzy Aldous — This is a tradition I hope to adopt for my family. When I was a child, my siblings and I would  desperately wait for the doorbell to ring after supper because a huge group of friends and neighbours would begin singing Christmas carols. After one song, we would rush to get our winter gear on and join the carolers stopping at every house. One family always printed out the lyrics to most of the carols and it is one of my most cherished memories. My dad had this loud booming voice and I remember hearing him sing. It’s been three years that we’ve been talking about getting this tradition going again. I would love for my daughters to have this memory as well.

Tanya Bagshaw — My husband’s big family (usually about 20-30 of us) all get together to go cut our Christmas trees.
Editor’s note: for a list of places around Montreal to cut your own Christmas tree, click here.

Liane Guimond Boyle — On Christmas evening, I make a huge cranberry roast beef dinner for my family. 

Emma Tyrrell — Instead of exchanging gifts, we play a game where everyone purchases (or makes) a unisex present. After dinner, we draw a slip of paper numbered from one up to the number of people who are taking part. All the gifts are put into the centre of the table and each guest chooses one (whoever picked 1 goes first, etc.). When the second person takes a turn, he or she can choose a wrapped gift or take the  opened gift from the first person.  If a player loses her gift, she can choose from another unwrapped gift or take a gift from someone else. There is always one coveted gift that almost everyone wants so it creates a lot of drama and laughter. (Editor’s note: Google “white elephant game” for other versions of this game.) 

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