Tag Archives: Christmas

What to Do on Christmas If You Don’t Celebrate It

Merry Christmas to everyone who will be celebrating it tomorrow! I hope it’s a joyful time for you and your loved ones.

As someone who doesn’t observe this holiday anymore, it’s always interesting to talk about what I do when everything is shut down and see what other people have come up to pass the time on the biggest holiday of the year in western society, too.

Obviously, the answer to this question is going to be different for everyone. People who live in tropical or Mediterranian climates are going to have a far different range of possibilities than those of us who live in chillier, snowier places. If your weather is nice enough for a hike or other outdoor activity, I envy you just a little bit today. That wouldn’t be a very pleasant thing to do here….although obviously not every Canadian is as averse to the cold as we are!

My hope is that this post will give you a few ideas of things to do when just about everything is closed. For readers who celebrate Christmas, I also hope it will give you a glimpse into what your friends and neighbours might be up while you’re celebrating today and tomorrow. There’s something to be said for learning about how other people live, in my opinion.

A typical “Christmas” is quiet for me and my spouse. Businesses and non-essential governmental buildings are closed here in Canada, just like they are in most other western countries. Many stores remain open on Christmas Eve, but they generally have reduced hours on that day and are packed uncomfortably full of people doing last-minute shopping. I avoid that scene as much as humanly possible.

Instead, I make non-traditional foods like chocolate chip cookies and tacos or fajitas, depending on what ingredients we have on hand. This tradition of sorts started when I first moved to Canada, realized my spouse and I would be alone on Christmas, and didn’t really feel like going all out for a holiday I was quickly losing interest in anyway.

We already had the ingredients for Mexican food and cookies on hand that first year, so that’s what we ate. Since then, we’ve done something similar to this when we could. There’s something nice about having a hot, simple meal that doesn’t take a lot of time to make and requires far fewer dishes than the average Christmas dinner. (Did I mention that I wash all of our dishes by hand? I don’t normally mind this chore, but it can be a little tricky to keep on top of them when we’re eating a multi-course meal).

If you love making fancy dinners, by all means make one. This is simply what works best for us.

The dress code is casual and generally involves wearing pants. Well, okay, sometimes it involves wearing pants. So much depends on what stage of the cooking process I’m in and how warm our apartment is. We have such efficient insulation in our building that sometimes it gets a little too warm to wear all of those layers when the oven is on and the sun is shining brightly through our windows.

At some point during the day, we’ll often turn on the latest science fiction or fantasy film that we’ve been meaning to rent or rewatch. There’s something relaxing about seeing Frodo once again attempt to return the One Ring to Mordor while delicious scents waft out of the kitchen. I also enjoy getting to know brand new characters instead if we’re in the mood for something we haven’t already watched.

The rest of the day is spent napping, relaxing, playing games (generally of the computer variety, although occasionally I’ve amused myself with board games and puzzles), or doing other quiet things that don’t require outdoor time. It’s nothing at all like the Christmases of my childhood, but I’ve come to look forward to this time quite a bit all the same.

I have heard of people going out for Chinese food on Christmas, as those restaurants tend to stay open. It’s not something I’ve tried yet myself, but maybe one year I will.

Do you celebrate Christmas? If not, what do you generally do on that day? Regardless of whether you personally observe it, what is this holiday like in your country in general? I know that not everyone who reads this blog comes from a culture where Christmas is well-known or even practiced at all.

5 Christmas Movies That Are Worth Rewatching

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Despite the fact that I don’t actually celebrate any major winter holidays, there are still a decent number of Christmas movies that I could watch every year and never grow tired of. I should warn you that some of the entries on this list are a little unorthodox. Sentimental films aren’t my cup of tea, so I did wandered around in a few different genres to compile this list.

If you haven’t seen any of these movies yet, go watch them now.

A Christmas Story (1983)

I was a kid the first time I saw this film. Ralphie’s wry explanations of what his family was like shocked me a little. My parents never washed my mouth out with soap, for example, and I was used to be surrounded by adults who paid closer attention to my emotional needs than what Ralphie experienced.

It took me a rewatch or two to realize that the narrator was exaggerating certain parts of his childhood for comedic effect, but I loved this tale even more once I figured that out.



Gremlins (1984)

Sometimes you find the perfect gift for the holidays. This isn’t about one of those times.

Fair warning: this is a horror movie. I loved the part of the plot had to do with the stress of finding the perfect gift. It was also interesting to see what happened when the characters ignored the clear warnings they received about getting gremlins wet or feeding them after midnight.


Edward Scissorhands (1990)

One of the things I love about the holiday season is it’s emphasis on caring for your community and including everyone in your festivities.

Despite his sharp claws and strange looks, Edward isn’t a villain and this isn’t a horror movie. He was technically created to be a monster, but his personality is completely wrong for that role. Edward is gentle and kind.

There’s lot of love and kindness in his story after he’s discovered and cared for by a kind stranger as well. The conflict between her and a few members of her community who hate and fear Edward kept me glued to the plot until I knew how it ended.


The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

What do you get when you mix Halloween and Christmas together? After the leader of Halloween Town accidentally stumbled across Christmas Town, he studied it and eventually decided to take over that holiday altogether.

I can’t say much more about the plot without giving away spoilers, but I loved the creative twists along the way. The ending was quite satisfactory as well.


A Christmas Carol (1999)

This was actually one of the first Charles Dickens’ stories I ever read. While I’ve enjoyed all of the adaptations of it I’ve seen over the years, this version included a few scenes from the book that were generally left out of other versions of this classic tale. I loved seeing different groups of people sing Silent Night. It added something to the storyline that was missing.

The fact that Patrick Stewart was involved was another huge bonus. I’d watch him in just about anything!

I’d love to know what your favourite holiday movies are. Hop on over to Twitter to tell me all about them today. Regardless of what you’re celebrating or if you’re celebrating anything at all,  I hope the rest of 2017 is filled with happiness and tables full of delicious food for all of my readers.

Staying Mindful During the Holidays

santa-claus-christmas-beard-celebration-41963We’re quickly sliding into the busiest time of year for retailers and shoppers alike.

I’ve been spending some time watching strangers rush around at the mall lately. If you’re not struggling to find those last few presents, it can be a fascinating way to use up half an hour or so of your time.

There are people who seem to love the thrill of shopping and jumping from one event to the next, people who are unbelievably stressed by all of the things they’re expected to do and to attend, and people who barely give any outward indications of how they feel at all.

If I could gather them all in the same room and talk to them about remaining mindful during what is the busiest time of the year for many people, this is what I would tell them.

It’s Okay to Say No

Several years ago, I unintentionally overheard a woman talking about how tired she was of buying presents for so many different people. She had no idea what to get for any of them and didn’t enjoy the process of searching multiple stores to find something that they might not even end up needing or liking.

I wish someone could have told her that it’s okay to say no to gift exchanges, parties, reunions, and other events if they don’t bring anything positive to your life.

There’s a decent chance that at least one other person in that group feels the same way and is wishing they could find a way to simplify their life. Mentioning how you feel could be doing them a big favour!

Even if you turn out to be the only one who wants to stop or change how things are being done, being honest about what you’re feeling in this exact moment is still a good idea.

Don’t Forget to Breathe

I have a meditation app that prompts me  to stop and focus on my breathing for one minute twice a day.

reflection-water-canal-mirroring-70574Since I started using it, my average resting heart rate has gone down a little bit. I’ve also been feeling more peaceful than I was before I began this habit.

You don’t have to spend a great deal of time meditating in order to benefit from it. While I am definitely planning to get back into longer sessions in 2017, it’s nice to take these short breaks and focus on the moment regardless of where I am or what I’m doing.

I am not a big fan of the huge crowds that form at this time of year. Meditation helps me relax when I’m in a situation where I’m surrounded by them.

Ignore the Hype

One of the other things I dislike the most about this season is how hard advertisers push to convince us that buying stuff is the secret to happiness and family harmony.

While I understand that this is a critical time of year for their bottom lines, ignoring the hype is an important part of staying mindful during the holidays.

Since I don’t have cable, Youtube is where where I see most of the ads in my daily life. A while ago they started forcing viewers to watch at least a portion of them before you could watch certain videos. There are times during the year when I’m willing to watch them, but I’ve been trying to cut down on how much time I spend on that site because I really need a break from advertisements for a while.

The nice thing about reducing the number of ads you see is that it can also reduce your number of must-have items. For example,  I find myself wanting fewer electronic devices and specialty food items when I haven’t given companies a lot of opportunities to market them to me.

Sometimes what you tune out is as important as what you tune into.

May the holiday season be a peaceful and joyful one for all of you!

Stuff I Miss About Celebrating Christmas

I stopped celebrating Christmas a long time ago for reasons that are hard to condense into a single blog post, but there are still some things that I appreciate about this holiday.

With the twenty-fifth of December rapidly approaching, I thought it would be fun to talk about my favorite parts of this time of year in today’s blog post.


The Feasts

I love food like mashed potatoes with gravy, pumpkin pie, and devilled eggs. My mom would make all of this stuff alongside a lot of other delicious things for the big holidays.

We usually ate simple, one-pot meals throughout the rest of the year, so it was fun to sit down to something fancier at Christmas.

There are also plenty of snacks and treats that are only available for a short time during the year.

For example, my dad would buy the same kinds of German cookies and hard candies that his mother used to buy for him when he was growing up.

I’ve continued that tradition as an adult. It makes me feel connected to my grandmother even though we didn’t share many years together on this planet.

The Lights and Decorations

This is a dark, dreary time of year for the northern hemisphere. Ontario gets about 9 hours of daylight per day in December, but other places further north that get far fewer hours of sunshine than that. There are even towns where the sun doesn’t rise at all for weeks or months at a time.

(I don’t know about you, but I could never live in one of them!)

christmas-treeChristmas trees and holiday decorations in general make me smile because of this. It feels good to see so much extra light indoors.

Even the cheesy ones can be fun. There is definitely something to be said for putting in the effort to cheer up a public place regardless of what form it takes.

The candles, lightbulbs, and other festive baubles remind me that this season never lasts forever.

We will have warm, sunny days again even though it sometimes feels like the cold will never end.

The Time with Loved Ones

One of the few things I dislike about living in Toronto is that it means I live far away from my extended family.

I’m lucky to have good relationships with my parents, siblings, and other close relatives. We pack in as many visits as everyone’s budgets and workplaces allow, but I always wish we could spend more time together.

penguinsThe holidays remind me of how far away we live from each other.

When we’re apart during them, it’s nice to have a call to see how everyone is doing.

If we were penguins, it would look a little something like this. While the adults catch up on grown-up stuff, the little ones always manage to wiggle into the middle of the action to see what’s going on.

I’m amused by every single minute of it.

These are the things I carried with me once I stopped celebrating Christmas and started jokingly referring to the special meals I made as Festivus dinner instead. I wouldn’t give up any of these things I enjoy for anything in the entire world.

Regardless of what you’re celebrating or will be celebrating soon, I hope your days will be filled with light, love, and plenty of heavenly things to eat.