Traditions Across the City

As the final countdown for the Big Day approaches, folks everywhere have been carrying on with family traditions. Some of these may surprise you.

The first mention goes to a reader who does a lot of her preparations for Christmas – in October. Yes, you read that right – the month with the colourful leaves and sunny days. But that’s not the most amazing part. She actually writes her Christmas cards at her Summer Cottage! So now is this person overly energetic? No, she has a good excuse for being so eager: she and her husband go away, far away, where there is no post office and not even many gift stores, for the month of November. Imagine her delight when she arrives home in December and has Nothing To Do. And she doesn’t even gloat about it.

Second place goes to a reader who has contrary thoughts like the rest of us, but she doesn’t keep them to herself.”Bah Humbug!” she says out loud, to “Hoopla! Pollution! Self-Indulgence! Murdered trees!” Then she goes on to confess that she does spend lots of time during the holidays catching up online or by phone with family and friends. Another reader shares the negative sentiment and can be heard all over her neighbourhood muttering “Bah Humbug” as she puts up her beautifully decorated tree. Somewhat conflicted, perhaps? Like the ten-year-old child who, in his heart, knows that no fat old man could possibly get down all those chimneys in one night. But the alternative view is too bleak to even contemplate.

Another reader responded to a post in person, with a message of Christmas giving and green living. She brought a hostess gift to a holiday dinner – mesh bags which I could take to the grocery store to gather my wayward brussels sprouts! Now She is an activist in action. And her action made me rethink all the wasteful wrapping that occurs at Christmas. Not only do we buy too many gifts, but then we go and wrap them in brand new paper and ribbons. I am seriously considering using newspapers and old string instead. I do have a handy supply of old string – from my husband Peter’s recently discarded mop.

One reader writes about a family tradition that is multicultural in the true Canadian way. She and her siblings gather ahead of time to Sicilian stuffed pastries. This is a family tradition passed on from her grandmother and her mother. She says that she and her sibs have a great time making them and sharing laughs. Food is often the centrepiece of traditions. Many other families gather to make and share perogies, Christmas cake and memories.

In Italian homes there are lots of traditional Christmas foods such as torrone, panettone, and especially, roasted chestnuts. Raw chestnuts are nicked with a knife so they won’t explode, and then roasted on an open fire, just like the song. If there is no open fire available, then an oven will do. They are best enjoyed with a glass of red wine. Delicious. But last Christmas, in our new home in the city, we had a disaster. Peter saw some good-looking chestnuts at his favourite Sunnyland produce store. He brought them home with great glee, carefully nicked each one, and them popped them in the oven. He opened the wine and waited. Alas – they were moldy!! His Sunnyland girlfriend had let him down. So far this year – no chestnuts have been purchased.

A British tradition that I bring to our holiday dinner table is Christmas Crackers. We always had these when I was little and I remember being delighted at the riddles, tiny toys, and silly hats inside. These days it’s hard to find the perfect crackers with everything inside -the standards and the prices seem to be a lot higher. So this year I am going out on a limb and making my own. I have gathered cardboard tubes from toilet paper rolls, and am filling them with little wind-up Santas. My plan is that we will race the Santas around the table. This is classy, don’t you think? I just hope they don’t get stuck in the mashed potatoes.


Sicilian Pastries

5 thoughts on “Traditions Across the City

  1. As usual, a very entertaining blog, Sue-thanks! Chestnuts~yes, it is one of our traditions as well. This year I’ve purchased roughly 4-5 different small batches. And yes, EVERY ONE was mouldy. It wouldn’t be as bothersome, but after shell scoring/cutting, tending to their roasting, checking now & then, etc. Then the grand opening…mould, mould and more mould. Oops, I mis-spoke, last batch we rescued 3 of 10. All others from other batches were complete write-offs. There must be a better way…but way what is it??? I pinch each one, only taking those that are heaviest, (most water=heavy) with the hardest & brightest shells. Roast, then open: mouldy, mouldy, mouldy; GRRRRRRRR!!! Reminds me of our trip to Roma two years ago, when we purchased a bag of chestnuts from a quaint old street vendor. That was in June, and yes every one was also mouldy. Then I thought: wait a minute, isn’t the season in late Oct-Nov??? So we were the authors of our own misfortune, i.e. if we knew the season was late Fall, and we bought ours from him in June-they must have been last year’s crop, and they had all the previous months to become mouldy. I guess Peter can’t put in a good word for us with his Italian famiglia, after his bad luck. Best wishes to you & your family for the Christmas Holiday Season. May your Pannetore stay fresh until the March 2020 expiry date. Heard a good use for it: get a plain Pannetone without creamy fillings and make it into French Toast. Drench with syrop d’erable…no disappointment like the chestnuts…but still, not chestnuts… DAvid

    Sent from my iPad



    1. Thanks Christine and David. I don’t feel as bad about my mouldy cheśtnuts. I grew up eating chestnuts from our trees in Italy. They were good eating them raw, after boiling and very good after roasting. What a disappointment when I found out that they are not edible here and we’re used as weapons. But I got to ell you that I purchased them for a $ at Sunniland and did not roast them after cutting a few and finding them mouldy. Sue used what she calls poetic licence.


  2. Wowie busy making Christmas treats. Merry Christmas to you and Peter and looking forward to New Year,s Eve together. Love 💕 Ruth


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s