As a child I couldn’t wait for Christmas and all the weeks leading up to it. I never questioned how an overweight senior citizen could slide down the chimney and then pull himself back up after consuming several cookies and a glass of milk. All that mattered were the presents he left behind — and he never failed me every year.

I can still remember how sparkling and magical the world became at night when Christmas lights illuminated my neighbourhood and every day became a countdown to Santa’s arrival. And of course, there had to be glistening snow.

On Christmas morning, I would tiptoe into the living room to see if that special Barbie doll was there waiting for me, or maybe the toboggan I asked for. There was always only one present under our little tree, but Santa always brought the one I wanted most. Later that day, the aroma of the roasting turkey would waft through the house and we would feast on my mother’s most anticipated culinary effort of the entire year.

We were a small group — my parents, my grandmother, my favourite aunt and myself — and I thought every Christmas would be like this forever. But when my mother passed away a week before Christmas in 1976, my aunt having left us three years prior, I knew that life had changed and that our annual family celebration was over. I vowed to resurrect it one day. And I have.

The holidays today are very reminiscent of my childhood memories as I have been blessed with a wonderful family of my own. Passing down traditions from one generation to the next has always mattered to me and now, when my home is filled with the aromas of Christmas dinner, made exactly like my mother’s, I am transported back to an innocent and magical time in my mind.

When our children were little, my husband and I made sure Santa always had a clean chimney to descend until they started to question this method of entering and exiting a house. Now our children are adults, but Santa still remembers them every year. Our daughter is so enchanted by Christmas that she would love to have our decorated tree up all year long. It is her favourite time of the year and with good reason. Despite the stress of last minute shopping, spirits are lifted in the weeks leading up to Christmas as we are caught up in the sights and sounds that surround us everywhere. Let us remember to help those for whom a joyous holiday is not guaranteed, as everyone deserves to experience the happiness this time of the year brings.

The holiday seasons of my childhood are now only a memory, but I tend to think of them as ‘part one’ of a lifetime of happy Christmas experiences. Now I am overjoyed and grateful to be living my ‘part two’ with my own family. We are small group of four and a senior dog who becomes a bounding puppy again thinking all the gifts are for him. As we gather in front of the tree I can’t help but think how perfect everything is. My greatest wish is that ‘part two’ be with us for a long time to come.

Happy holidays to everyone, however you celebrate. Slow down that crazy pace of daily life and reflect upon what really matters; good health and the love of family and friends. Whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, may the holiday season bring warmth, joy and laughter to your little corner of the world.

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