Posts Tagged ‘Christmas lights’

Christmas For My Family

November 24, 2019

Last month I shared what Christmas was like for me as a child. Now I’ll tell you about how I celebrate Christmas with my wife and children.

Christmas music may be heard anytime during the month of November, but it usually isn’t played exclusively until the day after Thanksgiving. At 12 noon Thanksgiving day our favorite internet Christmas station, https://www.stfrancis.edu/spirit/, begins their all-Christmas programming. They continue playing Christmas music 24/7 until noon on January 2. We also fill our 5-disc CD player with CDs from our Christmas CD collection of well over 50 CDs. I sometimes think we have a larger selection of Christmas music than some radio stations.

We used to put up our outdoor decorations including the lights on our house Thanksgiving weekend. But, because it is frequently unbearably cold that weekend where we are, we started putting the lights on the roofline of our house earlier in the month. We just don’t plug them in until after Thanksgiving.

The Christmas tree is decorated the day after Thanksgiving. Our main tree is a 6-foot slim tree. My son likes to put up our 4-foot tree in the basement. We call it the kids tree. We decide on one of the four color schemes we have, red and silver, blue and silver, purple and silver, and anything goes. I think this year is an anything goes year. We put a lot of lights on the tree including a string of bubble lights.

We have 5 different ways, 4 books and 1 set of ornaments, we rotate through each year for advent. 3 of the books tell a story that is inter-related with the other 2 books to give 3 different perspectives of the days leading up to the birth of Jesus. The main characters go on their own journey while intersecting and interacting with the characters of the other 2 books.

Our church has a Christmas program put on by kids in the church. The program is put on the first weekend of December. Through the years several of my children have taken part in the Christmas program. This year my youngest daughter is in the program, my middle daughter is helping out with it, and one of my sons is handling one of the spotlights.

Our church’s adult choir also puts on a Christmas program a week or two after the kids program.

During the month of December the family makes several kinds of cookies and several batches of fudge. Everyone gets to help make cookies. At one time we made all the cookies on one Saturday in December. That quickly became a chore that I dreaded as the number of kinds of cookies grew with the number of children in the family (we have 7 children). Now some of the older children are given the opportunity to make their favorite cookies anytime during December while I make 1 or 2 different kinds of cookies on “Cookie Saturday.”

Christmas morning the children are not allowed out of their rooms except to use the bathroom. They are not to go into the living room with the tree or into the kitchen before Mom or I call them. We fix breakfast of egg casserole and put their stockings out so they can have them during breakfast. Before the gifts are passed around we read the Christmas story out of the Bible or the last chapter of the Advent story book. We always have Christmas music playing while we open gifts usually with a fireplace video playing in our DVD player.

By the time we finish with the gifts it’s almost lunch time. We don’t have the traditional turkey or ham for Christmas. Instead we make an extra cheesy and meaty lasagna. We like doing this because there’s less clean up afterward. This year we’re going to have a couple cheesecakes for dessert instead of pies.

After lunch we play games and enjoy our gifts and each other.

That is our Christmas celebration. How do you celebrate Christmas?

Canadian Christmas Customs

June 24, 2018

Christmas Lights Across CanadaSettlers from many countries and many cultures contributed to the colorful Christmas customs shared by many Canadians today.  Yet they have all come together to form some traditions that are uniquely Canadian.

Since 1985, at 6:55 P.M. Ottawa-time in every province Christmas lights on every government building in Canada are turned on in a huge show of pomp and circumstance.  Many of the ceremonies are repeated nightly until January 7 and may include caroling, performances by local performers and national celebrities, light shows, fireworks, and Christmas treats.  While each ceremony may be similar in content each province adds its own cultural flare to the festivities.

On Christmas Eve many Canadians attend church services.  Churches of all sizes from the large cathedrals to the small-town churches offer the singing of the carols of Christmas, performances, and teachings on the meaning of Christmas.

Bringing Christmas trees into the house for decorating was introduced to Canada by German immigrants in the late 1700s or mid-1800s.  Now Canada is a major producer of Christmas producing about 6 million trees per year.  Nova Scotia, the Christmas Tree Province, produces over 1.5 million trees each year for sale in eastern Canada and the United States.  The province also ships Christmas trees to Central America, the Caribbean, and Venezuela.  Every year a 70-foot tree is sent to Boston, Massachusetts in appreciation of the help sent to Halifax from Boston in 1917 when a ship with a full cargo of explosives exploded in Halifax Harbour killing 19,00 people and destroying much of the city.

Many French Canadians still attend midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and participate in winter sports on Christmas Day.  Some still save their gift-giving for New Year’s Day, but others give their children presents on both Christmas and New Year’s Day.  On New Year’s Day many enjoy a lavish turkey dinner with family and/or friends.

Christmas cards were and are a favorite way for Canadians to keep in touch with friends and family who lived afar off.  Christmas cards first appeared in Canada in 1876.

In 1905, the Eaton’s department store sponsored the first Santa Claus Parade in Toronto.  The parade has grown in popularity and is now the largest Christmas parade in Canada.  Because of the success of the Toronto parade other cities started having Christmas parades of their own.

For years Canadians of all ages and especially British Canadians have spent Christmas afternoon either watching on TV or listening to the radio as the queen of England gives her annual message to the Commonwealth.

The Christmas season ends for British Canadians on January 6 with the Feast of the Epiphany or Twelfth Night.  A bean and a pea are baked into the Twelfth Night cake.  The people who find them in their piece of cake become the king and queen of the night’s festivities.

The First Nations Peoples of Canada includes all groups of people who lived in what is now North America prior to colonization by the Europeans.  Many of them held festivals during the winter season, such as winter solstice festivals featuring feasting, singing, dancing, drumming, racing competitions, and games of strength such as wrestling. 

Missionaries from the colonies taught these peoples the Christian Christmas customs they held dear.  Many of the First Nations Peoples started celebrating Christmas also mixing the old winter festival customs with the Christmas traditions brought by the missionaries.  Now many of the festivals include giving gifts and good things to children and to others.  Even Santa Claus visits these people with gifts and merry making at their Christmas festivities.

Canada’s Christmas customs have come from a wide variety of cultures.  They have given Canada a set of Christmas traditions unmatched anywhere in the world.  Yet they still have formed their own set of national Christmas customs. 

Merry Christmas!  Joyeux Noel!

Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland

April 26, 2015

My daughter at Bronner's CHRISTmas WonderlandAbout five years ago my daughter and I visited the world’s largest Christmas store.  It was a great experience.  Walking through a store the size of one and a half football fields, enjoying the Christmas music being piped through the store’s public address system, and perusing shelf upon shelf of Christmas decorations we were mesmerized by the CHRISTmas Wonderland that is Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland.

Located in Frankenmuth, Michigan, Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland opened for business in 1954.  Over time the business grew.  The original building was expanded and two more buildings were added to enhance their customers’ Christmas shopping experience.  Finally in 1977 it was decided to consolidate all their holdings under one roof on a forty-five acre site at 25 Christmas Lane, Frankenmuth, Michigan.  In 1991 the store expanded again doubling its size.  Further expansions allowed them to add a shipping department shipping their ornaments all over the world and brought the size of their building to five and a half football fields.

At Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland one will find a treasure trove of Christmas ornaments, Christmas lights, Christmas trees, outdoor decorations, nativity scenes, and Santa suits and accessories, and much, much more.  Click here for a virtual tour of the world’s largest Christmas store.

For more information about this wonderful store and to order this year’s Christmas decorations go to www.bronners.com or better yet take a trip to Frankenmuth and visit the store for yourself.  I hope to visit Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland again with my family real soon.

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