Winter Solstice - Part 2

By Koreen

The Winter Solstice combines two of my favourite things… the cosiness of winter and planning out my life. In a previous post I talked about planning my life and now I’ll talk about the cosiness of winter.

I was a snow baby, born in a snowstorm on Boxing Day morning. My parents had stayed at my Oma’s and Opa’s and my mom woke up in the night thinking she had eaten too much Christmas dinner. My Opa whistled nervously whilst driving the 40 kms (23 miles) through blowing snow and was thankful that I held out until ten minutes after they arrived at the hospital.

As a kid, I loved the winter. We’d get back from school and I’d play outside in the snow until it got dark. We’d build snow forts and toboggan down the hill and when it got too cold to stay out any longer, we’d go inside and have hot chocolate. One year my dad made us an outdoor rink and I’d stay up late skating by moonlight.

As a teenager I was in charge of decorating the house and hanging up the Christmas cards and my brothers were in charge of getting a tree from somewhere on our 100 acre farm. We mainly had cedar trees on our property, that’s what we usually got. However, one year a large evergreen tree had blown over in the wind on our farm and so my brothers walked along the truck to cut off the top for our Christmas tree.

I loved all the events at our church and helped out with the Advent readings and candle lighting. Our youth group would go caroling in the community. We’d drive from farm to farm of people that we knew were older and may not get as many visitors, or to families that had experienced some sort of difficulties that year. Then we’d end up back at someone’s place for hot chocolate and chilli.

On Christmas Eve, we’d go to my Oma and Opa’s and see everyone from my Dad’s side. Massive amounts of food and then sparklers and singing songs around the fire. On Christmas morning we were allowed to open our stockings before my parents were awake and one year, I coached my brothers for several weeks on how to properly sneak down our stairs so it was perfected by Christmas morning.

On Christmas Day, we’d go to my Mom’s side. My Grandma and Grandpa’s in the morning and then my Uncle Don’s for the afternoon. Here we’d all go cross-country skiing (That's me in the picture!). Then in the evening we’d be back at our place preparing for my birthday. My Dad had planned the menu and we’d stay up late making even more food. The next morning was spent cleaning and at lunchtime both sides of the family would arrive and leave mid-afternoon and then late afternoon our family friends would arrive for a second round of eating.    

Whilst presents were always a part of our activities, they were never the whole focus. It was almost always about seeing family and friends and eating really good food. It was about spending time together with the people you love. The kids would be off in the hallway or toy room playing, the adults would be in the kitchen swapping stories of things that had happened to them. And throughout the house there was always laughter.

I know that not everyone had such a rosy holiday time growing up, so I consider myself very lucky. When I was an adult and had a family of my own, we had more places to juggle and drive between, but we made it work.

Then we moved across the world where there was no family and had to make our own traditions. One of the things that the girls loved was a Christmas scavenger hunt. So instead of putting the gifts under a tree, we hid them around the house and left little notes about how to find the next one. Then we’d go down to the beach (it was summer) and have a barbeque.

And now we are in the UK and the new tradition seems to be to open gifts in the morning have a casual lunch. Go to a park for a walk around and come back home and have friends round for an evening meal. Much more casual than what I grew up with, but still focused on spending time with the people you care about.

I hope you are having an amazing day with those you love and if that’s not your reality right now, then know that you can always create new traditions.

Lots of love,