Christmas a time to enjoy traditions

We like to believe that traditions bring comfort and security. They bring the surety about what one will expect on a specific occasion.
Over time, our traditions continue to modify and grow. As new cultures mix in our society, they weave new ideas and foods into the fabric of being a Canadian.
Our Christmas traditions today bring foods and experiences from every corner of the world celebrating the birth.
Each family has its own way of celebration. Will it be “T’was the night before Christmas” or “And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them” on Christmas evening.
In our family as my sons were growing up, we began the evening with a service at the United Church. And later, just before bed, we would sit down on the sofa and read Clement Moore’s “A visit from St. Nicholas.”
Both formed part of our traditions.
Throughout Christmas Eve day, Christmas hymns and songs resonated through our home. Before heading off to church, the four of us enjoyed a special evening meal. It was something that only would be prepared on that evening.
For the last decade, the Fort Frances Times staff has adopted a family and tried to give them a great Christmas with gifts and all the food for a dinner feast. Once the sign-up sheet is posted, within hours every item is checked off and, over the course of a couple of weeks, even more is added.
It is not a big thing for the staff, but having heard and written the stories of families who received the adoption through the Salvation Army, the staff knows they are making one family happy. It has become a Times’ tradition.
On Christmas night, our families gathered in the late afternoon at my parents’ house. Other friends are invited to join and it is not uncommon to have up to 20 people gathered around the table.
As long as they have been able, my sons have returned each year to celebrate Christmas with their family and cousins.
Over the years, our family has developed many treasured traditions, many of which revolve around special foods for the holiday. My Grandmother Cumming made a special shortbread with rice flour and brown sugar. Today my sister carries on the tradition.
My mother used to make both a light and dark Christmas fruitcake. They only lasted a single Christmas. Today I alternate making a light fruit cake without any nuts one year and a dark cake on the opposite year with nuts.
Our traditional Christmas meal includes stuffing with chestnuts and cranberries. My grandmother always included baked mashed turnips with brown sugar crumble on top, and it is still found on the table at Christmas.
We have never cooked a Martha Stewart turkey. Ours will never be carved at the table—carving the turkey at the table is not part of our tradition.
Perhaps our most cherished custom comes at dessert. And desserts are found in our English and Scottish heritage.
Dessert at Christmas includes mincemeat tarts, shortbread, sugar cookies, Christmas cake, and the all-important plum pudding. My grandmother believed that we should use a hard sauce after baptizing the pudding in brandy and lighting it on fire.
For a long time that was the tradition. But we have since adopted a different topping that Gladys Anderson gave my mother. It is called sterling sauce.
There is always an exchange of gifts, but the fellowship around the table remains our most important Christmas tradition.
Merry Christmas to you all!

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