Suzy Snapper
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Continued Traditions
In my previous post, I talked a little about our pre-Christmas celebrations and traditions. I loved the comments posted and it made me realize I'd missed a lot of what we do.

Devon talked about 'Booksing Day'. I just love that term! So much I may have to adopt it. In our family, books are an important part of the day too. We always give each other books for Christmas.

This year, I've given my Dad a book by Pierre Berton called 'Klondike'. It's about the gold rush, which my Dad has invested interest in. His mom's brother used to live in a shack near Yale, working the river. He has many fond memories of spending time with his Uncle Wilson panning for gold in the 1930s. Since his heart attack, he's talked a lot more of these times - much to our interest.

For my Mom, I bought a book called 'The Wreckage'. A love story of the troubles that a Protestant woman and a Catholic man faced as they fell in love in Newfoundland many years ago. It reminded me of my own grandparents struggles as they left Ireland for similar reasons.

For myself, I bought Bryce Courtenay's newest. He is definitely a favourite author of mine, but not well known in North America. We are a year behind publishing on most of his titles, so I've arranged with a bookseller in Australia to send me his latest release. It costs me a pretty penny to have the hard cover shipped from overseas, but I've yet to be disappointed. This year's gem is "Sylvia". A departure from his usual tales of South Africa and Australia, this one tells the story of a child's revolt in Europe in the 12th Century. So far, it's riveting.

Patti mentioned hard sauce. This is also another family tradition that I would sorely miss if it didn't happen. My Mom makes the Christmas pudding in the traditional Scottish way that her mother-in-law taught her. I remember seeing the pudding being strung from the cheesecloths and then boiled to perfection. The hard sauce, a combination of icing sugar, butter and rum, is surely a treat to behold. I must admit, though, that I haven't taken the time to learn how to make it myself and each time, I realize how precious this tradition is.

On even years, we go to my Brother #3's for Christmas Eve. This means we spend time with the little ones, which essentially is what Christmas is all about. Watching the wonderment in the children's eyes makes the whole season special. This year, they are 5 and 2. Perfect ages for the making of a great evening. We also track Santa on Norad, or listen to the updates on the radio. For dinner, we typically have ham and all the trimmings.

Christmas morning comes early. My mom - even in her 70s - is still just a big kid. She wakes up early and calls me at my house to rouse me. I'm usually up though. I pop the presents into the car, pick my Aunt up on the way and head to my parent's place. We open presents, watch 'The Log Channel' on TV and have breakfast. I take my Aunt back home and then come back to my place to reload the presents for the next trip.

In the afternoon, we head out to Brother #2's house for a visit. Brother #4 comes over with his girls as well. My SIL always does an amazing spread of appetizers. They've moved into a new house this year, so I'm interested to see how they've decorated for Christmas. It's hard to believe my brother is now an empty-nester and has downsized his house. Time flies so quickly.

In the evening, we head to Brother #1's house for dinner. My SIL's family joins us as well. We have the traditional turkey and trimmings. The stuffing my SIL makes is legendary. There is never any left!

Boxing Day is a day of visiting. We visit mostly at my Aunt's and catch up with the cousins. Their family is just as large as ours so there's a lot of visiting. Boxing Day also used to be a time for my other Aunt to have us for dinner. She would have all four of my brothers and myself over and put on an amazing spread. More food than could feed double the number, but sadly, she is no longer able to. The last couple years she did put it on, my brother #3 and I spent more time in the kitchen than she did. She just simply was past it. Now she clearly suffers from dementia, which means those times are now just a memory.

By the end of it, although I love my family dearly, I am quite happy to have some down time. It's a busy time for all, and while I don't begrudge any of it, having to drive all over to each brother's home does get taxing.

Merry Christmas to all, if I don't get a chance to post before. May your families travel safe and create wonderful memories during this precious season!

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer trapped in a corporate buyer's body. Steel shopping by day, and freeflowing prose by night. One day I hope to have the nights become my days, but am intimidated by the sheer amount of people who share my dream. So I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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