Family gatherings are an important part of the season and the day. Every holiday season brings forth a magnificent display of culinary delights that graces our dinner tables. Our holiday feast has a variety of delicious foods. The smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves brings back happy memories of family gatherings.

For my wife and I, family gatherings hold a special place in our hearts during this festive season. However, we both come from different backgrounds, each bringing our own unique traditions to the table.

Let me share with you my own cherished traditions. Before I began my schooling, our family had the opportunity to live in six different communities across British Columbia and the Prairies. As a result, Christmas was a modest affair, celebrated solely within our immediate family. My dad’s side of the family resided in Alberta and Saskatchewan, while my mom’s side hailed from the East Kootenays and the Prairies. Meanwhile, we found ourselves living in various parts of beautiful British Columbia. However, once I started school, our living situation changed, and we settled in an Auto Court, which was essentially a precursor to modern motels. It was during this time that our small family Christmas expanded to include other families living in the Auto Court. When we left the Auto-court to move into our new home across town, the essence of our intimate family gathering remained intact. This continued until I embarked on my journey to university, where I met my future wife, and she became an integral part of our cherished small family dinners.

Now, let’s delve into my wife’s extraordinary traditions. Hailing from Newfoundland, her family lived on a vast plot of land in Queensborough. Christmas dinner in her household was a grand affair, a true spectacle to behold. Grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, great-aunts, great-uncles, cousins, and friends all gathered together to partake in this festive meal. When I was first invited to spend Christmas with them, the magnitude baffled me and the significance they attached to sharing a meal did as well. However, my wife was also taken aback when she came to my humble abode for Christmas dinner, as the gathering was so small in comparison.

When my wife and I first tied the knot, like countless newlyweds, we faced the dilemma of where to spend Christmas day. So, like many young couples, we took the easy way out and divided Christmas dinner between our respective in-laws. This routine persisted for about eight years until we decided it was time to break free from that tradition. Our daughter was four years old and my son was just two when we made the bold decision to host our very own Christmas dinner. We scaled back the guest list, only inviting my wife’s brother and his family, my in-laws, her grandparents, and her aunt along with her children. Unfortunately, my family lived too far away to join us for Christmas dinner, but we visited them during the Christmas holiday. Thus, the tradition of heading to the Island on the 27th for a couple of days to spend time with my mom, brothers, and their families was born. This cherished tradition has endured for over four decades.

Although we still continue the tradition of inviting our in-laws for Christmas dinner, things have evolved. Sadly, our grandparents and my mom and dad and mother and father-in-law have passed away, my wife’s brother’s family has grown, and they now host their own Christmas dinner. My daughter and her family live in Australia. Every two years, we bring our families together for a grand Christmas feast. Our Christmas dinner has once again become intimate, consisting solely of my son and his partner. We had a delightful Christmas dinner with my son’s partner’s family last year. It was like the grand family meals my wife’s family used to have.

Every family has its unique way of hosting a Christmas dinner, and as time goes by, we view it as the way we have always done it. However, if you look back over time, you see that today’s traditions have grown from past practices. The key is to stay flexible and enjoy whoever you have with you for your Christmas meal.

As the years go by, we realize that the true essence of Christmas lies not in the elaborate festivities, but in the love, warmth, and togetherness we share with our loved ones during this special season.

Tomorrow I will post about how Christmas Eve is changing while staying the same for us. I believe that Christmas Eve is the real start of the season for reconnecting, sharing stories, and strengthening bonds. 

Originally Published on

I served as a teacher, a teacher on Call, a Department Head, a District Curriculum, Specialist, a Program Coordinator, and a Provincial Curriculum Coordinator over a forty year career. In addition, I was the Department Head for Curriculum and Instruction, as well as a professor both online and in person at the University of Phoenix (Canada) from 2000-2010.

I also worked with Special Needs students. I gave workshops on curriculum development and staff training before I fully retired

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