Monday, December 14, 2009

Toys didn't make the cut.... but Singing did

What is your favourite Christmas/Yule/Holiday memory? And I mean, when you think of the holidays, what memory makes you glow and feel all warm and happy? Does it have anything to do with receiving presents or gifts?

When I read this question on it gave me pause. Right now the holidays are filled with daily questions of "Are you ready? Are you all ready for Christmas? Have all your shopping done yet?" and comments of stress, exhaustion and dare we say... misgivings. 

Taking a few moments to actually wade through those gnarly clouds of stressful, consumerist thoughts to actually remember completely the *feelings*, the emotions of my favourite memories took some time. I thought I'd share mine with you...

My absolute best memory of Christmas is actually Christmas Eve. In my pre to mid teens we started going to the evening, Christmas Eve mass (French Catholic) so that we could take our time Christmas morning. After we'd return from attending church, we'd have a few minutes to unwind while mom and dad set up the snacks and beverages.

You see- each year they had family friends come over for rum and eggnog, spiced apple cider, chips and lobster dip, cookies and snacks. My parents friends would all gather in the living room, with the tree lit and soon there'd be choruses of "Play Lisa, Play some Christmas songs!" I'd sigh dejectedly like the teenager I was and trudge up. What they didn't know was that I had specifically practiced the Christmas piano songs for weeks before. I really wasn't "too cool" for that.

Eventually enough drinks were had that a few would join me up on the bench and belt along, off key and laughing. I had to fight to keep myself on that bench and not be slowly and a little woozily pushed off... Around midnight they all eventually braved the cold snow to make a (short) drive down the road home and while my brother and I fell asleep I could hear them whisper and sneak the gifts from the closet in their bedroom.

Such a sense of family and connection. THAT has always been my favourite Christmas memory. Sadly, in recent years these friends have all had grandchildren and instead go there for Christmas Eve... (women get married and have babies a lot earlier if you stay in the village... I'm sure if I wasn't engaged my mom would have given up!). I never knew how much I loved that part of Christmas until they stopped coming.

This memory really has nothing to do with presents. I actually can barely remember any gifts I received past a few years ago. The materials things weren't what stuck with me, but the feeling of being together, or shared love and friendship... that's what has stayed.

If the holiday memories are going to be predominantly about experiences and not things, then why are we stressing about gifts? This simple question has made me realize that choosing to simply give a gift over Yule wasn't going to make the *cherished* bank. 

My first step in establishing a Slow-Christmas/Yule tradition are the carols that I love so much. Even though I'm not Christian myself, something about Christmas songs bring so much love and joy in people's hearts. This year I've officially made plans to bring my guitar home over Christmas weekend and sing at the hospital where Grand-Mere is staying. When I informed my mom, she thought about it for a few days and called to say she'd asked the staff's permission and she was bringing cookies.

What's better than yummy homemade cookies and song?

I think it would be lovely if you, fantastic reader, would blog about your favourite Christmas/Yule/Holiday memory... and check out Seriously a beautiful site.


article copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. It's funny but Christmas has always been "slow" for me. My family never made that big a deal apart from going to Mass. It was just a time when everyone was off work and we could all chill out together. I've never got the fuss and the massive amounts of shopping necessary.

    As kids we had stockings and one "main" present and as we've got older mum and dad have just helped us out financially with whatever we've needed.

    Christmas has always been to me a time of songs, sleep and food. Mostly songs and sleep to be honest as half the good foods in the world make me ill! I love Christmas songs so much that I would sing them all year if Himself let me!!

    I guess I was lucky I grew up with minimalist parents so Christmas to me has never been about the stuff :)

  2. Have you ever listened to the Mediaeval Baebes? They have a lot of Christmas carols in Latin and Middle English, as well as more pagan stuff. I looooove them. Their non-holiday songs are divine too.

    Falling asleep in the backseat of the car while my parents drove us home from our grandparents' house on Christmas Eve, holiday songs on the radio, is one of my favorite memories.

  3. Oh I love this post so much!

    My favourite Christmas memories are all family ones, too - curling up with my sisters and watching Little Women (and then fighting over who was which sister, since two of us wanted to be Jo, and no one wanted to be Beth), singing carols at midnight mass, and just spending time with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, laughing and playing board games.

    One memory that stands out to me is something from when I was really young - we used to drive to my grandparent's house in Montreal every year until I was 9 or 10, and there was a radio station that broadcast a Santa report. They would say that they'd seen a strange red light in the sky, and that local air traffic controllers had confirmed that it was not a plane, and must be Rudolph. I used to get SO EXCITED when my parents tuned into this station. I don't know how we managed it, but we were able to hear it every year.

    When we were in Halifax, we used to go to the outdoor Nativity Scene at St. Matthew's church on Barrington - if that kind of thing appeals to you, I highly recommend it! They had live animals, and Alexa McDonough was one of the "wise people".

    I'm so excited to go to my mom's and see her and my sisters and not think about anything for a week.

  4. I'm so happy to reply to this post because my answer summarizes for me why I'm here with family now. Even though I'm an adult with a family and home of my own, this trip to north Georgia is a 'coming home' for me.



    That's my favorite memory...and all we did in the name of family around the holidays.

    If I were to pick one memory it would be from highschool, probably 19 years ago. I had long since learned the truth of Santa but was the oldest in a family of 6 children. My younger sisters and one of my younger brothers had not and on Xmas eve, I croutched outside their window flashing a flashlight with a red bulb and jingling bells.

    From inside their rooms above where I huddled,
    I could hear the delight and forced whispers.

    It was such a gift for me, even as a bullet proof teenager :)

    I'm here now with all my siblings except for one brother who lives near me in Florida (we'll have our celebration with our families next week) and one set of my parents are here, my children and cousins they see a few times a year.

    Tonight the kids will decorate cookies and have hot chocolates with peppermint sticks because it still
    jazzes me to delight in a child's wonder.

  5. There are a couple of gifts that I still remember with fond memories, but its only a few over the span of 25 years and hundreds of gifts. My favourite memories are midnight mass with the Christmas carols, and walking home in the snow after. I remember Christmas brunches when my mum would make croissants, crab cakes with chutney, cider, and fruit salad. I remember lying at the bottom of our Christmas tree, looking up through the branches at the lights and ornaments, and I remember the smell of our house- pine and cloves.

    Thanks for this brought back some nice memories :)

    Keep singing!

  6. Thanks for the plug, and the lovely story. I laughed at how you fake dragged your heels, but secretly delighted in playing for everyone.

    And thanks to those of you who've already checked out If you're looking to share your stories, I'd love to hear from you! Comments welcome, and the facebook page is probably the easiest way to share them:

    Merry Slow Christmas/Yule everyone!

  7. my childhood christmas memories...chopping down the tree ourselves from a local tree farm. decorating cookies with my sisters and mom. putting out cookies for santa on christmas eve. sneaking cookies from the tins stored away in the cabinet. pancakes made by dad on christmas morning. i love christmas songs too! i keep meaning to play some on my keyboard but my keyboard isn't set up right now.


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