Holiday Whispers

Now that Remembrance Day has passed, it's appropriate to begin celebrating the holidays.  In our house, we celebrate Chanukah and Christmas and Corey and I both love this time of year.  I feel like the excitement of the season allows to onset of cold weather and darker days to slip by painlessly.  By the time the season is over, we're accustomed to the cold and the days are already getting longer... it's brilliant!

We've noticed that this week, everything has all of a sudden felt more festive.  It's like someone flipped a switch and all of a sudden, I want to curl up under a blanket and sip hot chocolate while watching Christmas movies.

Sometimes in an all adult household, you need to force yourself to make the effort to celebrate the holidays.  It would be so easy to decide that we'll get a Christmas tree when we have kids or to skip out on lighting the Chanukah candles because it's just us... but we don't.  We've been making the effort each year and we find that it brings us closer and makes us happier.  Neither of us is very religious, but the holidays are a good time to celebrate traditions and practice gratitude.

So what puts you in the holiday spirit?  Is it the red cups at Starbucks or the Christmas songs on the radio?  Do you have quirky things that make you feel festive?  Here are some of ours.  Corey's are in red:

1.  The William Ashley Warehouse Sale.  I know, it sounds a little consumerist, but this sale starts in early November and it is always where I begin my Christmas shopping.  One year, Corey and I bought a good china set and wrapped it for Christmas.  We were so excited to open it on Christmas Day!

2.  Baking.  My mom always baked so much around the holidays and now it doesn't feel like Christmas until I've baked with her.  Making shortbread cookies is probably my favourite...  Corey gets to decorate them.  Now, we add cooking latkes to our annual tradition.

3.  Non-Traditional Holiday Movies.  My brother and I have a long running joke that my mom thinks Hook and Die Hard are Christmas movies because they take place during the holidays.  Corey and I carry on this tradition by watching the Harry Potter movies during the holidays each year.  Sometimes I like to mix it up with Lord of the Rings as well.  :)

4.  Charity.  My brother is a huge charitable advocate in our family and he sets a good example by insisting that we include donations to Oxfam in our gifts to him.  Corey and I also set aside money each year to buy toys on boxing day for a local women's shelter.  It makes us feel good and it reminds us of how lucky we are.

5.  Festive Scents.  They say that smell triggers memory better than our other senses.  Perhaps this is true because I always love to make our home smell like cinnamon and nutmeg.  When I was little, our house always smelled so good in December.  One year in the condo, I tried to recreate the scent by boiling an orange peel, some cinnamon and some cloves... Unfortunately, I forgot what I was doing and went out.  I returned home to a ruined pot but luckily, no fire!  Now I just buy scented pine cones.

6.  The Window Displays Downtown.  When I was little, my mom worked in an office above the Eaton Centre and I visited her around Christmas each year.  I got to spend the mornings making paper snowflakes for her coworkers and then we would visit Santa at lunch and she would take the afternoon off so we could shop and look at the pretty window scenes.  

7.  Children.  I feel like the holidays hold a special magic for kids and their excitement is always infectious.

8.  Decorating.  Corey loves to trim the Christmas tree.  This was also the first year we were able to have lights outside.  Decorating early is nice because it gives us so much time to enjoy everything.

9.  Lights.  Corey loves to drive around and enjoy other people's lights and pretty decorations.  He also loves lighting the Chanukah candles!

10.  Christmas Shopping.  While we're having a modest Christmas this year, Corey loves shopping for chocolates, gifts and decorations.  He also enjoys wrapping the gifts in pretty paper and putting them under the tree.  It's a small thing but it's a favourite activity in our house.

11.  Flavoured Coffee.  Corey likes anything with a hint of chocolate and mint for the holidays.

What gets you in the mood for the holidays?  Do you have any unique traditions?

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