Christmas in Nova Scotia
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Today I have a very special guest blog post from my friend Breanne of This Vintage Moment. Breanne lives with her family in Nova Scotia, Canada.
I was so delighted when Rachel asked me to share some of our traditions of Christmas in Nova Scotia. It made me think of all the traditions that we do and that we grew up with. It also brought back so many good memories of our first Christmas in New Zealand which is where we met and stayed with the Lees family. They were friends of friends who agreed to host my husband and I as well as my husband's two brothers. They picked us from the train and served us the most wonderful Christmas cake and tea in real tea cups. I've since added a Christmas fruitcake to our holiday baking in memory of that visit. Thanks so much for having me, Rachel!
The snow has been falling since we woke up, all the tracks from yesterday's snow play are completely covered and there doesn't seem to be signs of stopping. We knew this snowstorm was coming and we planned to stay home, making sure that we stocked up on a few essentials before the roads got snow-covered and dangerous. We have been sipping cups of hot tea and reading lots of books, keeping warm and cozy. My girls love the snowfall. They think it looks like sprinkles and that if the snow is coming then it is surely Christmastime!
This is our second Christmas in Nova Scotia and our third Christmas where we haven't been with family. Our very first Christmas was in New Zealand where we lived and worked for four months right after we were married. Although there were many wonderful things that we loved about the New Zealand traditions I missed our families and the snow and all the traditional food we used to enjoy growing up. We've since spent three Christmases with family, my husband and I both come from large families, so the Christmas holiday has been busy and fun and full of activity.
Since moving to Nova Scotia with our two little girls, we've made new traditions and kept some of the ones we grew up with. We always do a bunch of baking, often early in the month of December in time for our annual Book Party (you can read more about it here!). I love to bake and especially around Christmastime, I have so many happy memories of baking time with my mum and I want to build the same memories with my girls. We make cutout cookies together which they think is marvellous and just like play dough, they especially like the decorating part! We fill plates of baking and take them around to our neighbours. It's a small way to start our girls thinking of Christmas as a time to give and to think of others.
This is the first year that we have done an Advent Calendar (read more about that here!) and that is a tradition that will stay. It's super simple and filled with activities that we would do anyways but it is fun to unfold the day's activities and it helps show my little girls just how many days it is until Christmas. I love to have friends over or go over to friends' places, see the parades, window shop the mall and take in all the pretty lights but I also relish the quiet. The Advent Calendar helps me to do one thing each day and to do it well and some days that means snuggling up on the couch and reading Christmas books from the library.
Christmas Eve we keep simple. We each open one gift (pyjamas!) and have supper by the Christmas tree - cheeses, meats, crackers and fruit with wine for the adults. We read the Christmas Story and enjoy the soft lights in the living room. We've gone out to Christmas Eve services before but they are often right around our girls' bedtime and bundling up little people to drive through the snow is not ideal. I prefer to see the snow from the comfort of my living room. In a few years, we'll probably revisit this tradition, as attending a candle-light service on the 24th is one of my favourite traditions.
Christmas morning starts with coffee and cinnamon rolls and stockings. We tend to linger over the unwrapping of the gifts, letting the girls try on their new gifts or see how they work. We'll Skype with both our families at some point during the day, I'm very grateful for technology that allows us to 'see' our families without a plane ticket. If the weather isn't too cold, we'll often go for a walk in the snowy forest just up the road, the tramp in the fresh air does us all good. We have dinner in the late-afternoon, often something that is festive but not always the traditional turkey that we grew up with. Our dessert is always pavlova in honour of our first Christmas in New Zealand.
Our family is still young and we're still figuring out what traditions we want to keep from our childhood and what new ones we want to include in our family's Christmases. But most of all we want our girls to know the wonder and the stillness that comes from a consistent awareness of the presence of Christ not just at Christmas but in our everyday life.
What are some of your favourite traditions? What are your must-have holiday foods?