My family is obsessed with tradition when it comes to the holidays, and when I mean obsessed I mean like there would be serious tears if we cut anything out. It’s a high stakes, high emotions game over at the Grant household come December (and to that end, at the Lytle-Grant home too since Matt’s equally Christmas obsessed, as is his whole family). I love love love hearing traditions so thought I’d share some of my family’s today along with some of the new ones Matt and I have made together and would love to hear yours in the comments! But first…
The tree!!! My dad put himself through university as a lifeguard come summer, lumberjack come the rest of the year, so he naturally has always insisted we go cut them. Interestingly, where Matt and I live along False Creek used to be a lumber yard and my dad worked not too far from us while he went to school at UBC here in Vancouver. He taught us all how to cut a tree down from a young age (he also apparently turned us all into little handywomen + one handyman, he was all about teaching us “life skills” and you should see us assemble a bed together which we recently did, it is breathtaking to behold). It was pretty funny getting Matt to cut his first tree down when we got our first one for our apartment years ago because we forgot to tell him you have to cut a little wedge out first and he still has a scar on his knuckles from where he cut them open sawing away like crazy (a little lumberjack trick PS: cut a little wedge first so that your saw doesn’t get stuck and then you can saw in a fluid back and forth motion into the tree, having someone push the tree away from you once you get some headway!).
My parents get two trees for their place: one decorated Ukrainian style in the front room as a nod to my mama’s Eastern European heritage, and a massive one in the living room that gets covered in the thousands of decorations a family of 6 amalgamates over the years. For Matt and I, we moved in together 5 or 6 years ago (which might not seem that long since we’ve been dating for 11 years but keep in mind we started dating as wee babies!) so when we first moved in together and didn’t really have anything, we just kind of got these big box decorations from hardware stores and threw them up. It wasn’t pretty. Over the years, we’ve really grown our decoration collection to include lots of beautiful and meaningful pieces, from the gold ornate heart he got me because he obviously loves me so much (duh) to the golden frothing mug of beer ornament I got him (one’s just a little bit more romantic than the other). We love to decorate with music playing in the background and all the lights out, and speaking of tradition, my dad gets Matt a “beer advent calendar” every year (because I’m fairly certain he prefers Matt over me), so we drink one of the seasonal beers and trim away!
My sisters, mum and I have been doing the Nutcracker ballet every year for as long as I can remember too. Being a big family, it’s nice to do some things just the girls (while my dad and bro watch hockey together or something). My older sister’s been gone in Europe for some time now so we miss her a lot when she can’t come home (though she is this year, yay!!!) but traditionally, we go and get high tea somewhere and then head to the ballet together and get all dressed up. It’s something we always look forward to, and I love that we’re spoiled with choice now because there are two different productions in town now! We’ve been loving the Goh company lately.
We also eeeevery year go to the Christmas Train in Stanley Park. This is one of my favourite traditions because they do such a good job with the lights and hopping on the train brings me right back to being kids, though to be honest my whole family is so immature (barring my mum, the wise, reasonable one out of all of us) that I don’t think there will ever be a point we can’t easily revert to kid-level humour. Also, firemen greet you as you walk in to do their fundraising. It’s magical!!!
Movies factor into our traditions a lot too – we always watch It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Story first thing on Christmas day. We’ve begun randomly watching Snow Dogs on Boxing Day which is not one of my faves but my dad seems to think it’s really hilarious, and we also always watch The Sound of Music on New Year’s Day!
Speaking of Christmas day itself, we always sleep together in the same room on Christmas Eve (though my older sister Natasha refuses to, whateveeeeer) and we wake up at 5AM on Christmas Day. As I type this I’m really worried there’s something seriously wrong with us but I’d rather be really weird and have my siblings as my super co-dependent, crazy close BFFs than the alternative. The one thing both Matt and I have tried to figure out is what we will do when we have babies, which is something coming up hopefully soon – yikes. I’ll cross that bridge when we have to!!!
Since Matt and I are super close not only with our own families but also with one another’s (as mentioned above, my dad asks me about Matt before he ever asks how I’m doing), we’ve had to get strategic with how we see each other and each other’s families over the holidays. We finally worked out that Matt comes over on Christmas Eve and because Kim (Matt’s mum) is the absolute best, we do a dinner on the 23rd with Matt’s family and do our gift exchange then. That way, for now pre-baby we can just relax on the 25th and not worry about having to drive to one another’s places since our parents live pretty far away from one another, especially since my parents are up the mountain and it can get sketchy driving there if it’s super snowy. Matt and I do our present exchange on the 23rd in the morning and so far, it’s worked out really well! It’s a question of compromise when you have lots of family commitments but want to be there with your significant other so for now, this is how it’s worked best for us and we’ve made the 23rd a really special day for the two of us.
And how could I leave out New Year’s? My parents and I (the sole child who does this) runs the Resolution Run 5K on the 1st, even back when I was a 20-something and dying of a hangover. Speaking of hangovers, there’s no better, more surefire cure than jumping into the ocean, which is what my dad and I do at the Penguin Plunge in Deep Cove (along with my older sister if she’s in town and now my little brother, who finally for lack of a better word nutted up for it after years of saying he didn’t want to go). Then we have a crantini and watch Sound of Music!
Worried we might all have OCD? Yeah, me too. But I honestly love that we have some set-in-stone, special times together that give that feeling of constancy and nostalgia every year, no matter how that year’s gone or what kind of craziness is going on (but you know, ideally that it’s capping off an amazing year and that everything’s cool!). I love my family so much and having these traditions brings us even closer together, and I love that I’ve been able to start new traditions with my partner and his family too. What about you guys?? I want to know all your traditions! Tell me in the comments below!