The holiday season is upon us.
From October onward, the stores are packed with related merchandise, and we are bombarded with the message to buy more, more, more. Expressing love has become synonymous with gift giving.
A few years ago, I stopped to think about why I was blindly participating in this practice, and how I wanted to intentionally create our family experience at this time of year. I asked myself some questions. What kind of traditions do I want to establish? What messages do I want share with my child? How do we want to share this time of year together?
For me, spending quality time together is very important. I want to fill my child with love and lasting memories. These are gifts she can carry with her forever and they don’t not end up in the landfill. I also want her to learn the value of community and the importance giving over receiving.
To try to achieve these goals, we have established some traditions that we look forward to sharing at this time of year.
• Santa’s Anonymous: Take part in this year’s Santa’s Virtual Tree of Wishes at cfaxsantas.com/collections. Choose a gift category for a child: infant, toddler, child, young teen, teen. See the sourced list and choose a gift for a registered local child and Santa’s elves will purchase the gift for you ($40 value). Food hampers are also an option. Download the printable Tree of Wishes ornament to display on your tree.
• Donations instead of gifts: Instead of giving gifts to the adults in our family, I choose to make donations to charities close to my heart. I ask them to do the same for me.
• Volunteering: There are many local not-for-profits looking for help at this time of year. In our family, we help a local chocolate maker prepare for a fundraiser to raise money for men’s mental health. For volunteer opportunities, visit:
Oak Bay: oakbayvolunteers.wordpress.com
Cowichan Valley: volunteercowichan.bc.ca
Campbell River: volunteercr.ca
Southern Gulf Islands: sgicommunityresources.ca
• Baking: It is really fun to spend time together in the kitchen. There are so many great sweet treats that you can make at this time of year and you can then gift the goodies to friends and family. We like to make shortbread and sugar cookies. Decorating them together is the best part!
• Host a Gingerbread Party: Invite a few of your child’s friends over to the house and decorate gingerbread houses. If you do not want to make them yourself, there are simple pre-packaged options available at the grocery store.
• Trim the Tree: We love to choose our tree together and spend an afternoon decorating it while enjoying festive music and treats. My daughter really enjoys putting the star on top at the end.
There are so many great events taking place across the Island and many of them are low cost or free. Here are a few events to look forward to this year:
• Gingerbread Showcase: The Parkside Hotel & Spa presents the 13th annual Gingerbread Showcase in support of Habitat for Humanity. New features this year include contactless voting and donation options for in-person and online viewing options—vote and donate for your favourite in the People’s Choice Award. Daily until January 2, 2022. habitatvictoria.com.
• Festival of Trees: The Bay Centre in downtown Victoria presents the Festival of Trees in support of the BC Children’s Hospital. This free event will be held at the Bay Centre during opening hours. Come down, show your holiday spirit and virtually vote for your favourite tree. All in support of mental health and BC’s Kids. Daily until January 4, 2022. bcchf.ca.
• Christmas in Old Town: The Royal BC Museum will transform their old town into a Christmas wonderland with sights and sounds of Christmas long ago. Visit the wood-cobbled streets lined with festive garlands and see the shops decked in seasonal finery. On until Dec 31. royalbcmuseum.bc.ca.
• Christmas at Butchart Gardens: Colourful lights, carollers, ice skating and festive fare are all on offer at the gardens. It runs until January 6, 2022. I like to take my daughter after Christmas, as it is quieter, and it is nice to have something seasonal to look forward to after all of the December fanfare is over. butchartgardens.com.
• Learn and Grow: There are so many wonderful celebrations taking place during December in addition to Christmas. In our family, we enjoy learning about how this special season is celebrated by cultures across the world. A few of them include: Hanukkah (Nov 28-Dec 6); Winter Solstice (Dec 21); St. Lucia Day (Dec 13); Kwanzaa (Dec 26-Jan 1, 2022); and Omisoka (Dec 31). You can do this by taking books out from the library, researching information online, and/or speaking with friends in your community who celebrate these special holidays.
Every year we add new traditions to our list. It is fun to try out new things, spend quality time together, and explore this beautiful season in our own special way. It is the greatest gift we can give to one another.