We were newly weds and pregnant. Like many couples, we faced the decision of where to spend the holidays. We knew that once made it would set our path in our married life.
In the few months after getting married, we dealt with many firsts like any married couple. Getting established is never an easy transition. The merging of two different lives and lifestyles tests the strength of a couple’s love.
We had just found out that Sweetheart was pregnant. Yikes! Baby was on the way and I was going to be a dad. I needed to start thinking in terms of a family. All our future decisions would set the path for our lives as a family.
The holidays were coming up fast and we needed to figure out where we would spend our first holidays. Whatever we chose, would set the precedent on subsequent holidays.
At the time we lived in Waterloo, Ontario, which is about an hour’s drive west of Toronto. Sweetheart was working at the University of Waterloo library while I was in graduate school. Her family lived in Lansing, Michigan which was about a five hour drive. My parents were in Quebec City which was a longer 10 hour trek.
The prospect of a long drive in the Canadian winter is never taken lightly. The previous year, we had made the effort and joined her family in traveling from Lansing to Winnipeg, Manitoba, for the holidays. Trudging through multiple snow storms and freezing temperatures is what makes Canadians tough.
On the return trip, the heater of my ’71 Chev did not keep up with the -30 C cold. Luckily, it had a bench seat and Sweetheart was cuddled up beside me with a blanket over our legs. We arrived at her townhouse in Ottawa to discover that the pilot light of the furnace had gone out and the place was stone cold. When the heat came back on the pipes burst making a very wet mess. I tried to go back to Waterloo the next day. My car’s oil pan had frozen and it wouldn’t start. I was further insulted with a parking ticket.
With this ordeal fresh in our minds, we were apprehensive in setting out anywhere for the holidays. We realized that since we were starting our own family, we needed to start our own traditions. We did not want to have the stress of making the pilgrimage from one family to another during this time… carting the baby and accessories with us with the prospect of getting frozen.
That first Christmas together, we had a quite dinner of a roasted chicken with a bottle of wine. It was romantic, intimate and full of expectations for next year when we would have a child to share it with.
So it became that celebrating Christmas at home was our tradition. Her family often came because the logistics of hauling our three young kids around was overwhelming. Our home became where we spent the holidays and developed our traditions.
This year, as a first, we are heading to Toronto where our three children live, to celebrate Christmas with them. We can take more time off from work than they can and so it made sense. Our youngest son is organizing the event and he sent out the plan for the day. It is all there. Our traditional Christmas cherished by my family.