A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Holiday Memories

Posted on: December 2, 2014

When I was growing up, we had a Magnus Chord Organ that once belonged to my great-grandmother. One of the songbooks happened to be a Christmas one, and I’d start playing the tunes before December 1st—as long as my dad wasn’t home, because he felt that was the earliest we should start playing holiday songs.

Christmas music

Some of my Christmas albums

These days, my tastes run from the music I grew up on, like the Robert Shaw Chorale and Living Voices, to Diana Krall and Andrea Bocelli. It’s probably too much for my family—Christmas carols playing in the car CD player, on our mini stereo while I cook or do chores, or on the Christmas music channels on cable—but those familiar carols bring back wonderful memories of Christmases past, and it wouldn’t be the same without them.

Just as the season seems not quite right without Nan’s butter cookies and fruitcake, Grandma’s brunekager, or a julenisse peeking out here and there around the house.

But we can easily get so caught up in nostalgia that we miss the joys of this season.

Yes, loved ones pass away, and children grow up and have families of their own. But we can celebrate the memories of our departed loved ones as we make their tried-and-true holiday recipes or display their favourite ornaments. We can share our traditions with the next generation, and the one after that. And we can take the time this Advent and Christmas to try something new:

  • Pass down family cookie recipes to our children or grandchildren—or, better yet, make them together and share stories about the people who created them.
  • Let someone else host Christmas dinner, bringing a dish or two to share and helping with cleanup instead.
  • Make time to take part in a reconciliation service and Eucharistic adoration before Christmas.
  • Take part in a service project: make up and deliver food hampers for the food bank, shoeboxes for women’s shelters, cookies for the local mission, knitted goods for street-involved youth, and so on.
  • Choose gifts from a charity catalogue or ask for donations in our name to causes close to our hearts.
  • Serve Christmas dinner at a shelter or soup kitchen, on our own or with family or friends.

Whatever our plans for celebrating Advent and Christmas this year, I pray that we would leave room in our hearts and lives for God to do something new in and through us.

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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