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EDITORIAL: The customs we keep

Observer editor Adam Louis reflects on holiday traditions, past and present
(Jordie Laidlaw/Terrace BC Holiday Lights 2020, Facebook)

As promised last week, this is my second Christmas-themed column, and just in time, too!

Christmas had always been a big to-do back in my motherland in Ohio. I have a rather large family, particularly on my dad’s side. The Louis clan besieged one of the houses for a big feast, usually turkey on my dad’s side, ham for my mom’s.

If it was at our house, we’d take full advantage of the Midwest snow and our rather steep hill of a backyard, trying with mixed success to create a jump at the bottom for some extra sledding excitement. We just had to watch out for the cherry trees at the bottom of the hill; before my dad chopped them down (they had been dead for a long time and nothing lived inside them, don’t worry), he padded the bottom of the trees so we wouldn’t hurt ourselves, instead occasionally ending up with a face full of straw and snow.

In the weeks before the holiday, my dad would create his annual chocolates. He would buy this huge bag of melting chocolate and put it in a saucepan over an old hot plate. Once the chocolate was liquefied, we would dip just about anything in it. Raisins, peanuts, cereal, cookies – a variety of treats would get a special chocolate bath. He always kept them in what is to this day one of the biggest metal bowls I’ve ever seen and would bag a portion of them up in individual packages to give to family and friends. We would, of course, keep plenty for ourselves.

My mom made cut-out sugar cookies, dozens of them, every year. She would frost the cookies and my siblings and I decorated them with a smattering of sprinkles over a table covered in wax paper. We would try and occasionally fail to keep from licking our fingers and tasting the sugary goodness promised when everything was done.

I must be hungry while writing this; I’m talking about food a lot.

I’ve been living away from my biological family for a number of years and have started one of my own, and though the season is busy and sometimes quite stressful, it’s nice and frankly necessary to take time to honour the older traditions while creating new ones with your loved ones to pass on. In that way, even if we lose loved ones throughout our life’s journey, a part of them will always continue through the customs we keep.

Christmas traditions are going to be different this year. You’ve heard that before, and I’m just as tired of saying it as you are of hearing it. Some of us will be breaking a long chain, and that’s okay. These are trying times we live in, but hope persists. It never truly left; it just gets hidden sometimes.

Some traditions coming out of COVID could be nice to include. We’ve found new ways to connect we may have otherwise taken for granted, helping those in isolation or unable to make it for the holidays enjoy the day with the ones they love from a distance. I’ve seen record-breaking generosity toward wonderful non-profit organizations this year, and you only have yourselves to thank for that. People have rallied around our most vulnerable – safely – to ensure they get a taste of the holiday season they deserve. This spirit of giving and togetherness is all around us if we know where to look, and I think it’s wise to keep that fire burning even once COVID is eradicated. We need more generosity in our lives.

Whatever you find yourself going through this holiday season, know you’re not alone. You do not celebrate alone. You don’t stress or mourn alone. We’re all with you.

Merry Christmas, Agassiz-Harrison, and God bless us, everyone.

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