I can barely recall Christmases from my childhood. I don’t really want to recall a great many things from (at least) the first 25 years or so of my life. Not that it was very bleak but I cannot say that it was a barrel of laughs either. In our house growing up, I was the youngest of four boys; by the time I turned up, it was kind of “every man for himself.” When I left home at age 19, I was relieved.
By my late 20s, I managed to spend a couple of Christmases alone in a one-bedroom apartment, doing whatever I wanted to do. Sometimes it was ultra bluesy, but mostly it was so great. I never cared much for Christmas for myriad reasons. To me it always meant some kind of unwanted pressure. Why all of a sudden do we have to cram all this shit into one bleeding day? Can’t we just spread love and joy it out loosely over 365 days? Read more...
Here I sit on the 14th day of December: my youngest daughter Ursula has just gone down for a nap and my oldest daughter has reluctantly gone off to school in the mighty grade of JK. (This may not bode well for future waking when she’s a teenager, but she loves it once she’s there). Meanwhile, their mother Lisa, my partner of 11 years, has made a rare declaration that this day is for her and I will “see her before the kids have to go to bed.”
It is the time of year where we all want to feel the spirit of the season, and with kids, perhaps, it gives us an extra reason to notice it. Last Tuesday, we put up a tree and I immediately feel the spirit and run to the turntable (a Christmas gift from Lisa to replace the one I found in the garbage 5 years ago) and put on the Charlie Brown Christmas record. It warms my heart and it bodes well for the days to come. Read more...
We’re driving along the Queensway to get burgers the other day — I’m in the passenger seat trying to find the radio station that only plays Christmas music because that’s the only station the kids will listen to this time of year — when Colum, our six-year-old, starts trying to do the math. I mean, how would Moms and Dads even know what you wanted, right?” he reasons. “And how would they be able to buy all of it without even knowing?”
What? Something in his voice makes this seem like something to follow up on. Bruce Springsteen is on the radio singing about Santa. “What do you mean, Colum?”
THE THREE RIDICULOUSLY ADORABLE KEENAN CHILDREN
“Michael says parents can stay up until after midnight.”
“Well, sometimes parents do. But then they’re very tired and need to sleep in.” Read more...
Recently, a friend on the Facebook was explaining the process of telling his kid that Santa wasn’t real. It was, like many things to do with parenting, quietly hilarious and heartbreaking, in large part because of what a clear and irreversible childhood milestone it was. Our son is 19 months old and this being his second Christmas it occurred to me that maybe it was time to begin teaching him about the Santa I will eventually concede had never been real.
PICTURED: THE SPIRIT of CHRISTMAS, NOT OUR SON
But how does this work? Do we have to explain Christmas to him or does he just absorb it all by being near a bunch of Christmas for a while? He recently met Santa for the first time (a very svelte Montreal Santa, btw) and he clearly visually understands the concept. Even if he did call him “Dada,” despite the fact I look nothing like Santa. Either way, I can’t really see this being the year that he understands why that guy dressed in red at daycare bought him a nicer present that his parents did. Read more...
We are now in the thick of things. The lead-up to the most frenzied weekend of the year, the weekend before Christmas.
As a family we decided to bow out of the rigmarole this year. We are spending the week off work and school just hanging out with each other, catching up on Dr. Who and Battlestar Galactica, baking, eating, crafting and with any luck, snowshoeing.
But maybe you still have presents to get. Here’s what you can do to stay out of the mall this weekend: We’ve rounded up three crafty presents you can make if you have, literally, an hour or two to spare. Enlist your kids on the easier steps. And remember: it’s your time they want.
1. DIY Pop-up Christmas Cards from Family PhotosRead more...
My mom was known as the Gingerbread Lady. She spent over twenty years perfecting her cookie recipe, and then created her own custom baking business around it. She was famous for her perfect recreations of castles, houses, logos and teddy bears — all using a deep, dark, spicy gingerbread and royal icing.
Sadly, she passed away without passing on the recipe, so my sister and I have spent nearly every Christmas testing out different ingredient combinations and trying to remember what made it so special. This is the closest I’ve ever come!
This is a recipe for Swedish Julpepparkakor (Christmas ginger cookie) that I found and modified from the Chronicle Journal, a northwestern Ontario newspaper. This is spicy: if you aren’t sure how the kids will take to it, hold back on the spices a wee bit. Read more...
So sorry, but this is Christmas hell to me. As someone who’s already raised one child and navigated her safely through the craft years, the sight of glitter chills me.
Especially if the glitter is on the floor. The ubiquity of glitter, the way it coats clothing and turns up in breakfast cereal. Once introduced into your home, there is no turning back. All those false promises of avoiding mess exist purely to confuse you. Glitter wants to ruin you.
You might find me dogmatic, fine, but we are a glitter-free home. I cannot tell you how relieved I am that paper + textile-oriented crafts took over.
1. PAPER ORNAMENTS – Designed by Children
I love the unaffected beauty of these paper birds I found on the Crafty Crow.
Holiday habits feeling a little crusty? Check out these cool alternatives
TRADITION #1: Making a wifesaver, the venerable Christmas morning casserole of cheese, bacon, ham, eggs and bread.
HOW TO MAKE IT COOLER: There’s nothing wrong with these breakfast staples, but sometimes even the mention of a casserole will sufficiently repel a child.Switch up your Christmas morning meal without sacrificing nutrition. Cookies for breakfast! (Healthy ones, of course.) After all the presents are opened and your living room is a sea of wrapping paper, get your kids to help make granola bars, which you can cut out with a gingerbread man cookie cutter and decorate like a cookie. This sweet, spicy and cinnamon-y granola bar recipe is just as tasty as a gingergread man, and it can be “iced” with yogurt. Alternately, if you want to save max time for Christmas morning fun, cut gingerbread men shapes out of toast and “decorate” with peanut butter, jam, and sliced fruit. Read more...
Cool ways to commemorate ancient rituals for the shortest day of the year
The traditions of pagan winter solstice provided the basis for many modern traditions like burning the Yule log at Christmas, lighting bonfires, and marveling at stone and sun alignments that occur in nature. We’ve cooked up three crafts to help you celebrate the traditions of the auspicious shortest day of the year.
Pine needle sun catcher
Traditionally, bonfires were lit in the fields and surrounding crops and trees were splashed with spiced cider. Children walked from house to house offering gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges in baskets of evergreen boughs and wheat stalks. Celts believed evergreens to be sacred because they didn’t die in the winter, thereby representing the eternal aspect of the divine.
You’ll need: An aluminum pie plate, twine, seasonal greens like pine needles, mistletoe and dried leaves. Read more...
Krista Rao blogs about crafty adventures with her kids
If you are like me, when you dig out your box of christmas ornaments your stomach drops as you notice there are signiﬁcantly less ornaments than you remembered from last year… thanks to a curious dog and a even curiouser little boy who just couldnʼt keep his hands from tree. I used this very quick and easy recipe to make some simple ornaments that SMELL just like Christmas to hang on my tree. Here is just a quick little tutorial to follow if you want to do the same.
How do you show your appreciation for the work your kids’ teachers do?
Keeping a room full of 20 – 30 kids from going off the rails, staying after school to teach extra-curriculars, and even spending their own hard earned cash on art supplies deserves a proper thanks, but rewarding your kid’s teachers heroic efforts during the holidays is not always easy. How much to spend? How personal should your present should be? What does this person do when they’re off the clock?
We asked some of our teacher friends to give us a few pointers, then we hunted down some gift ideas of our own. (If you’re still stumped, check out last December’s gift suggestions plus last summer’s round-up of Etsy treasures for end-of-the-year gifts.) Here’s what they said:
“Gift cards were always my favourite when I was a teacher. Although parents can be thoughtful with those too, so your kids teacher doesn’t end up with $120 work of Starbucks. (Not that I’m complaining).” Read more...