We gather at my parent's house, sit in front of the fireplace by the Christmas tree, and talk the night away. Of course, in between all the talking there is also plenty of eating, (Greek style, of course) drinking, (I love red wine) and laughing, as we reminisce about holidays past.
While the adults talk, the children play and watch their favourite holiday movies—usually Home Alone and Elf, on repeat— as they anxiously wait to open their presents.
Our memories are happy ones that make us laugh, as we remember stories we'll never forget—like that one Christmas Eve we had unexpected visitors at my parent's house. No, not Santa, but the nice folks from the fire department!
A few years ago, my son was taking a nap at my parent's house, and when he woke up, his leg was stuck in the crib. I tried getting his leg free, but nothing was working. He started crying, and I started to panic. We called 9-1-1 and while talking on the phone, we managed to free his leg. Operators sent over emergency workers anyway. It wasn't the man in the red suit that caught my oldest son's attention, but the shiny red fire truck parked outside my mom's house on Christmas Eve.
My grandmother rushed to the front door with a plate of delicious Greek pastries for the kind fire fighters, and after we shared a few laughs, they were on their way, and we continued to enjoy the festivities.
Not only are my parents and grandparents busy in the kitchen, they are busy everywhere—making sure the house is spotless and clean before we gather for dinner and a long night of celebrating. In case you didn't know, cleaning is the most important thing to Greek people, right after eating. I have certainly learned about keeping a tidy home from my family.
Certain scents evoke memories in me, like the smell of PineSol (what we use on everything from our hardwood floors to our granite countertops) and my grandmother's Greek chicken rice soup—both scents instantly take me back to my childhood.
Since become a mom, some of our traditions have changed; we no longer attend midnight mass but we still enjoy a wonderful Christmas Eve with everyone, which includes opening presents. (Scene: Gifts being tossed around the room, giggling children, and voices yelling out "Thank you, I love it!" to "Loukia got more presents that I did!" to "Where is the coat I bought your father? Shoot, I forgot to wrap it!") There is always mass confusion, but lots of laughter.
Other holiday traditions I love?
Decorating the tree with my family. My children each have their own "side" and I let them put up ornaments any way they want to. While we're decorating, we're also sipping hot chocolate with Christmas music playing in the background.
Sending out (and receiving!) holiday cards. It's still such an important part of the season for me.
Baking cookies—no matter how terrible a baker I am, this is a tradition I enjoy with my kids.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by PineSol. With a strong heritage and long legacy, PineSol is a longstanding tradition in many Canadian homes. Apart from the classic pine scent, PineSol is also available in a variety of long-lasting scents: mandarin sunrise, lavender, lemon, and a sparkling wave. You can use different scents throughout your home to change the mood.