Little Family Traditions

Do you have any special traditions that you like to follow in your home?

If you were to ask me whether my family does, my first response would be, “Nah, not really”.  But when I start to think about it, I realize that we do.  A lot of little traditions have evolved naturally through the years that my husband and I have been together: little rituals that signal the start of the weekend, and small customs that celebrate each season.  This brings me to last weekend.

We finally put up our Christmas decorations!  Now, I will admit right off the bat that my Christmas decorating is probably not what most would call ‘chic’.  But I do think it is kind of… sweet, and there is a cool story behind my beloved artificial tree and pretty much every decoration on it.

Years ago, when my son was still a baby (rather than the 13 year old teen who towers over me today!), my aunt offered us her Christmas tree.  The timing was perfect.  She was ready to let the tree go, and we had just decided that we needed to buy one.

This was a special tree, too.  In my youth, our whole family had spent many a Christmas Eve by it-  eating delicious meals, laughing, opening gifts.  So, naturally, I enthusiastically accepted the gift.  My aunt also gave us the decorations.  This collection continues to grow with the passing years, consisting of a variety of ornaments that were given as gifts, hand-crafted by my son, family and friends, and also some season-end purchases.

Every year, we put on Christmas carols, break out the eggnog, and start to… ahem… construct the tree.  Yeah.  That’s the one funny thing about this tree: you have to build it ‘from scratch’ every year.   You re-connect the trunk, put each of the individual branches into the tree trunk, replace the needles that have fallen off…

Have you seen one like this?  I could be way off on this, but I’m guessing that they don’t make this kind any more.

My husband always constructs the tree, and then my son and I decorate it… and we sure make a fun evening of it.  I have to admit, though, the actual construction and deconstruction of the tree can seem like a bit of a production sometimes.  So this year, I made a rather Scrooge-ish suggestion.

Since we were busy and a little tired, I offered that perhaps it was time to get a modern tree. Of course we wouldn’t get rid of our beloved tree!  Just give it a break for one season.  I mean, why not benefit from the technological advances that have surely been made over the last 35 years in the field of artificial Christmas tree assemblage!

Well.  Let’s just say that my son did not go for that idea.  And the truth is, I was kind of relieved.

I guess this tree, which is probably at least 35 years old,  has become a real tradition in our home.  Once we started to put it up, I immediately remembered why it was worth the effort.  What was I thinking?  I love this tree!  And we are officially in the holiday spirit now!

These little traditions really add something sweet to life, and they are part of what makes the season sparkle with charm.

How about you?  Do you have any beloved traditions? (Big or small)

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Transformed Landscape

It always amazes me.  You think at some point it wouldn’t, but still it does.  The way that first big snowfall transforms the landscape.

Not so very long ago, Winnipeg looked like this:


On Monday evening, as Winnipegers tucked off to bed, weather forcasts warned us to prepare for the first big snowfall of the season.

By the time I woke up on Tuesday, the wind was howling, the snow was blowing and it was already deep enough to be causing all sorts of traffic troubles.

I decided to take a bus to work. I just didn’t want to deal with the stress of maneuvering my vehicle through fresh snowdrifts, and around other vehicles.

I knew I’d made the right decision when I got to work early and without any white-knuckle driving.

On my way home after work, though, the bus got stuck in a snowdrift at an intersection. Yes, the enormous 60 foot city bus, completely stuck. The traffic behind it was backed up. In the other lanes, car tires were spinning, but not much was moving.

So, I bundled up, got off the bus, and walked the rest of the way home through the hard blowing snow that was now knee deep.

Truth is, once I got going, it felt like an adventure.  It was quite fun, and a lot of exercise to boot – several kilometres, for sure.

At some point, I couldn’t resist the idea of taking a picture. It was kind of silly because my phone was getting all wet and my fingers were numb, but I was having such a great time, I hardly noticed.

Now, it’s already Wednesday, and the snow finally let up late this afternoon.

I took a lot of pics, so I am sharing a few of them with you  here today. There are a few more below, too.  Hope you enjoy.

In the meantime, I am off to bed.  The last two days of walking and commuting in the storm have left me ready for a good winter’s nap.

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Four Tips to Help You Enjoy Winter.

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.

Edith Sitwell

See the complete drawing at the bottom of the post. I’ve been inspired to make a bigger painting from this small section of my drawing.

It’s December 1st.  Yay! The charmed month that brings us the sparkling holidays, fresh snow, and the winter solstice.

In some ways, I find November to be kind of tough: it’s not winter yet, but one can feel that autumn is making its gracious exit, leaving the land vacant and ready for winter to settle in.  The hardest part, for many people (including me), is that the days get drastically shorter, especially with daylight savings time. Suddenly, it’s 4:30 pm and it’s already dark.

But now it’s December, and with winter around the corner, I have to admit that, over all, I have come to like winter.

So, today I wanted to share four things that always help me to enjoy winter more, and dread the short days less.  Here are the four simple things that make the biggest difference for me.  Maybe they’ll help you like winter more, too:

~  I’ve learned to look at these short, cold days as the temporary season of coziness: dress in warm, cozy clothes, eat comfort foods, and create a cozy atmosphere at home.  This doesn’t have to cost much at all: play nice music, and keep soft, cozy blankets and throw pillows handy.  And hey, since it’s dark anyhow, just settle in for a movie night on Friday.  That’s right, unabashedly embrace and focus on all things cozy!

~   Lighting changes everything!  (Yes… everything!  Barbara Walters once said that good lighting can do more to help us look attractive than make-up can!)  Anyhow, during the shortest, coldest months, I love using this easy DIY trick to create a joyful glow (see photo below). It’s also helpful to decorate with an attractive lamp that bathes the room with a soft, warm light.  And, of course, consider safely lighting candles every now and then.

An EASY DIY!  Remember that you can produce different moods depending on the colour of light that you choose:

DIY lamp 7
Multicoloured lights in a big, glass vase are an easy way to make a room feel festive.

~ Make some time to connect with others during the colder season… even if you are a bit of an introvert like me!  In fact, whether it’s family, friends, or a beloved pet, spending time together in a cozy environment can do wonders for our spirit.

~ It’s good to try activities that will help you enjoy winter itself.  Getting outside into the natural light, even for a short amount of time, can transform how we feel.  This can be as simple as bundling up for a short, invigorating walk in the brisk air.  Keep in mind, though, exercise is a wonderful mood enhancer, whether you do it indoors or out.  So, if you prefer to get active inside, that will still help you feel better about winter.  Check out this link to the mood enhancing benefits of walking.

A detail of a drawing I made. The complete drawing is at the bottom of the post.

Now, here are some lovely words of collective wisdom shared by others: 

Quotes on The Changing Seasons:

“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”

Yoko Ono

“There is a season for everything under the sun—even when we can’t see the sun.”

~Jared BrockA Year of Living Prayerfully: How a Curious Traveler Met the Pope, Walked on Coals, Danced with Rabbis, and Revived His Prayer 

“…Never in any of the four seasons
Should you neglect your gifts for any reasons
The world needs you to make it a better place
Don’t pack out; run your race”

― Israelmore AyivorBecome a Better You

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”

~Lewis CarrollAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

She enjoys rain for its wetness, winter for its cold, summer for its heat. She loves rainbows as much for fading as for their brilliance. It is easy for her, she opens her heart and accepts everything.”

― Morgan LlywelynBard: The Odyssey of the Irish


Sometimes I fall
And feel myself slowly wilt and die,
But then I spring back on my feet
To go play in the sun outside.
I am no different than the weather,
The planets or the trees;
For there do not always have to be                                                                         reasons for the seasons                                                                                                     turning inside of me…”

~ Suzy KassemRise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem

“All seasons have something to offer”

― Jeannette WallsThe Glass Castle

One Last Thing…

This is a detail of a drawing that I made late last fall. I had fun working from my imagination on this one.

One last thing!  Late last fall, I made the drawing featured in today’s post.  It was from my imagination; a fun and spontaneous process.  Kind of like a big doodle.  It’s not quite finished –  I will probably go back and edit a few things, eventually – when the mood strikes me, but I’m focused on other projects, now.

A Time for Home


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