Written by Sammie Vance, Youth Change-Maker
When I think of Christmas I think of family and traditions. This year will be a little bit different with the pandemic. There are some traditions that we will not be able to do, like big family gatherings, going to see the Christmas Carol, and watching a new movie in the theatre on Christmas Eve.
For the past few years, my family has been travelling a few hours away the weekend of Thanksgiving. We all dress up to go see The Christmas Carol performed at a theatre. It is what has kicked off the holiday season for us. Sitting in the balcony and watching the fake snow drop in the end scene when Tiny Tim calls out “Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night.” But there will be no performance this year. My family is thinking about reading the book instead, but it won’t be the same. Thankfully, some traditions will stay the same like playing lots of board games with the family and trading presents. Most importantly, I can still spend time with my family. Not all of them will be with us in person, but I can see their faces on the screen and hear their voices.
One of my favourite things to do is decorate our Christmas tree and hang ornaments with my siblings. Every year around Thanksgiving, we set up our Christmas tree and decorate it with ornaments. The lights on the tree are as bright as day. This year we did it a week earlier than usual just to add some extra cheer to our house. We like to read Christmas books as a family where, with our beautiful tree in plain sight. We also have a bunch of small Christmas puzzles set up on a coffee table in the room that we all enjoy working on, right here by the light of the Christmas tree.
My siblings and I dive into the box of ornaments to find our first year ornaments. We laugh when we find dad’s ornament with a picture from when he was a little kid. We also enjoy seeing the ones that we have made in the past with popsicle sticks and cotton balls.
One of my Favourite ornaments is my ballerina. I got a ballerina ornament the first time I went to see the nutcracker and it was so much fun. I remember the magic, the twirling, swirling and so many pretty costumes. I take special care to hang her in a place for all to see.
When we are done decorating, our tree is not only filled with pretty colours and shapes, but with memories of past vacations, special moments, and ornaments from past generations. It is a collection of love and it lights up the room.
Another tradition is driving around fantasy lights, which is a bunch of fun light displays at a park nearby. We love to see the ones from the past years plus try and identify the new ones. Christmas music plays as we oh and ah at each display. My dad always drives extra fast through the tunnel lights that arch getting us to the next section. We squeal while holding onto our hot chocolate as we go through “warp speed”.
We used to bring my great grandparents with us every year but my grandpa passed away a few years ago and my great grandma this year. We talked about how much we miss them, and about how much they loved to see the lights. The car looked a little empty this year but I think I could still feel their presence. Even though their seats were empty, we got to think about how we can still make the car happy!
Reflecting on the past can be fun and sad at the same time. It makes me feel lots of things. I wonder how I’ll feel next year when looking back at this Christmas. How will the reflection leave me feeling. Right now I feel good because I get to reflect what I feel about past Christmases and look forward to the one coming in just a little bit of time – even if it may feel a little different this year. Maybe we will make a new tradition?-Sammie Vance