(originally published December 2007)

Nostalgia tends to set in this time of year. Oddly enough, for me it hasn’t really hit yet though it is slowly beginning to grow on me. The more and more holiday count downs that pop up on radio, television, and in print make me realize just how close Christmas is. My first year at the office last year, I put up our tree. This year it’s been pulled out of its box and the lights have been passed along to me, laying the foundation for tradition.

It was always that way for my family too and there are a number of traditions that still hold true after decades. There are also some traditions that have seemingly expired and now exist only as somewhat distant memories. They too still get dusted off, but only in my head – better then them having been lost altogether. For many people here at home there is a traditional seasonal memory that surfaces but no longer can continue. My family was welcomed in to the homes of many, long before my time – though I’ve seen tapes o’plenty to know the charming comfort that was mutually shared. Aside from the old fashioned VHS tape archives there’s also the soothing sound of my grandfather’s voice on crackly vinyl that gets pulled out on an occasional basis.

I’m referring to Christmas With the Jamieson’s and the Don Jamieson Christmas story album. It seem strange to me, having only been three years old when he passed. But these two seasonal elements still come to the forefront and there’s such a strong sense of pride, although I wasn’t around to experience either first hand. The talent presentations that my own two Aunt’s would perform at the piano. My Uncle telling my Papa what he wanted for Christmas that season and eventually my own Mum inevitably joining the cast some years later, her debut on the show as an infant.

The part of the show that most people reference when they share their own personal memories of getting to know my family is the Night Before Christmas segment. While many of our own family traditions haven’t necessarily continued that is one that still does to this day. My grandparents ordered a neat little set of eight ornaments from Regal Greetings and Gifts, god knows how long ago, and every year it was the most revered event of Christmas Eve. When my Nana, Barbara, would pull out the battered down cardboard case around them which has the story printed on the inside cover.

She’d sit in a velvety textured easy chair that reclined and open the lid as all the grandchildren would gather around. We all took our turns hanging up each decoration as she read through the verses; I was the third oldest and first boy which meant that I hung up the third of eight and then we would loop back around as not all seven of us would always be around every year.

When she passed away in 1997 the set of decorations was passed down to her children, and is now included in my Mum’s copious boxes of ornaments, decorations, garland, and tinsel. Now this old fashioned tradition takes its place amongst the modern ones within my own family. My Mum and I would always stuff my Nana’s stocking together with essential components as well. A V.C. Andrews novel, Oil of Olay, Milk Bath, chocolate sea shells, a small box of miniatures from Laura Secord – it was the same every year.

Christmas is never the same as we loose the ones we love. We are forced to continue on, “but with great difficulty,” as she would say. It is the memories that make this time of year one of the most pure and comforting. The fact that most of us do our utmost to try and preserve and recreate consistency, otherwise known as traditions, many of which have carried on but get intertwined with new ones. I now take care of stuffing my Mum’s stocking and amongst her own staples, one of which is always a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, she now receives the Milk Bath, chocolate sea shells, and the Miniatures in lieu of her own mother.

I’m not sure how or why it happened, it just did. Just like the Night Before Christmas that my Papa read to families everywhere, my Nana read to our own family, my Mum reads to mine, and I will eventually read to my own children. This to me is the true meaning of Christmas and the things I look forward to the most every year. So as my grandfather would say, from our family to yours – Merry Christmas.

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