Christmas was a lot of fun this year. When you have children—one’s who are old enough to “get” it and young enough to still believe in it—Christmas takes on a whole new meaning. Or perhaps more accurately, it recaptures some of its meaning—some of the magic and wonder you felt as a child is restored. I found myself humming Christmas tunes and getting excited for Christmas Eve more than any time I can remember. For me, now is about creating traditions. Establishing the yearly rituals that Meebs will look forward to as much as Santa’s impending visit. From decorating the tree together to baking cookies for Santa, my goal this year was to create beautiful experiences that turn into cherished memories about the holidays.  

Three new and noteworthy things we did this year to get into the Christmas spirit were:

1) Christmas Express train at BC Forest Discovery Centre in Duncan, BC

Each year at the BC Forest Discovery Centre the Christmas Express train—a 1910 steam locomotive adorned with lights and Christmas music—makes its way through a majestic forest dressed with a festive lights display. We drove to Duncan, via the circle route, on December 22, 2012. It was a beautiful drive; the roads were clear but the snow was piled high through the highest elevations.

We had a great time; Meebs giggled her way through the entire 20 minute enchanted ride. And as you may know, giggles are contagious! While we waited for our departure, we toured the museum and did crafts in the schoolhouse. It was a really great day that got all of us in the Christmas spirit. Definitely on the list again for next year!

2) Magic of Christmas at Butchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay, BC

We had a wonderful time taking in the amazing festive lights display at Butchart Gardens. We went out for an early dinner and then arrived at the Gardens shortly after 5pm. The sky was already dark and the beautiful Christmas lights lit up the night, while the live music carried through the crisp air. We really lucked out with the weather, and enjoyed a perfect evening with a full moon and clear sky. The twinkling lights competed with the stars for our attention—this winter we’ve hardly seen the stars at all, it’s been so wet and dreary.

Meebs was so excited to ride the classic carousel. When it was our turn to choose a horse, she chickened out a little and opted to sit on my knee in one of the princess thrones. Fitting, right? One of Amelia’s favourite attractions was the jumping frogs (aka 10 lords-a-leaping). When she’s a bit older I’d love to try ice skating on the outdoor rink; I think she would love it! Butchart Gardens is definitely another new family tradition!


3) Mushroom Hunting at China Beach

When we were a young and childless couple, we always went to the beach on Christmas Day or Boxing Day. Why? Because we live on the West Coast, and we CAN! Both born and raised in Northern Ontario, even after 11 years living in BC, it’s still a novelty to be able to go to the beach in the winter. We abandoned this tradition temporarily when we had Meebs, but now that she’s a bit older, we decided to revive the ritual. This new rendition of a long standing tradition now involves hunting for mushrooms along the way—something we all enjoy doing. It gives purpose to our hike and gives Meebs something to look (but don’t touch!) out for. This year I broke in my new rubber boots. No (edible) mushrooms were found, but great memories were made and many puddles were conquered!

This has been one of the best Christmas’ to-date. It was exactly as Christmas should be: for us, that is about our small family of four (the fourth being PorkChop, of course)!