Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas Traditions - Revisited

So I did two cool things today that have given me renewed hope with respect to family Christmas Traditions.

New Christmas Tradition #1
This morning, Erik and I volunteered for a Feed the Hungry event at St. Mary's Church. I have to admit that I was a bit reluctant at first. I think there's a pretty decent safety net in Calgary, I'm not overly keen on benefits tied to the Church, and I've always thought it was a shame that everyone does this at Christmas when the 'need' is year round (although, its not like I've compensated by signing up for something like this after Christmas). But when Erik asked if I had any interest in doing this with him, I figured it would be a good opportunity to try something new, spend some time with Erik, and help a worthy cause. We were given a morning shift, which involved food preparation for a dinner to be served later that day. There were about a dozen others signed up for this shift, some of whom I knew, and some of whom I did not know. My tasks included chopping vegetables, cutting buns, bagging buns, cooking potatoes and poking holes in tinfoil with a fork. Sounds kind of boring, but it was actually pretty fun. It feels really good to be productive like that, especially when I spend so much of my life sitting at a desk doing work that doesn't provide immediate tangible results. It's kind of funny that this is the sort of task that people pay other people to do. Manual labour has its appeal. It was also a good chance to talk to some people that I hadn't seen for a while and to hang out with Erik.

The other volunteers included some of Erik's coworkers...and a family. What a great idea for a family Christmas Tradition. Everyone shares the workload. It's a chance to spend some time together. Nobody has to dress up. No gift exchange related stress. And it's pretty flexible in terms of timing.

New Christmas Tradition #2
Every year one of my dad's best friends hosts an evening of carolling at his farm just outside of Calgary. It's a pretty casual evening that includes immediate family as well as 'adopted family', which is how my parents fit in (and me, by extension).

I have gone to this event for the last few years, even though I don't know most of the people there. I go because it's an opportunity to hang out with my parents and I enjoy having a chance to visit with the host family, who is always so kind and welcoming. I realized today that I also go because I think it's a great Christmas Tradition. Everyone brings some edible goodies, rather than a sit down turkey dinner. The family matriarch still seems to get stuck in the kitchen longer than is fair; although, in this case, I think she secretly enjoys it. After a couple of hours of chatting, the group breaks into some Christmas carols. Each person or couple has to start at least one song. After years of gentle prodding, this family has actually succeded in getting my dad to sing. In fact, my dad even slips in the occassional improvised lyrics.

All in all, it was a good day. I hope I can find a way to make these things part of my family Christamas Tradition.


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