Merry Christmas from “The ‘Tick.”

Merry Christmas from “the ‘Tick,” my friends. That’s what Ottawa natives jokingly call our little village of Manotick.

Hubby and I are all ready for Christmas. The tree is up and trimmed. The house is decorated. Gifts are ready to be wrapped. Somehow I never get around to that until the last minute. Which is a shame since I love to see the tree lit up and surrounded by colourful packages.

The goodies I purchased are stashed in the freezer until tomorrow night. I did not bake this year. I decided that my newly acquired gluten-free baking skills were not up to scratch. So I bought cookies and fruit cake at a local gluten-free bakery that makes lovely things. Hubby bought the turkey yesterday and it sits in the fridge awaiting his newly established brining tradition. Tomorrow I will make my tourtiére. A Christmas Eve tradition of long standing at Hubby’s and my house. Ever since my friend Susan gave me her recipe years ago.

Watson’s Mill in the village on my day out and about

My mum and my sister and I talked about Christmas traditions when I was home earlier this month. I asked them what their favourite tradition was.

I was surprised when they both said their favourite Christmas tradition is a dish passed down from my grandmother Knowles when my mum was a young bride in the late forties, and only ever eaten on Christmas with the turkey dinner. Fruit salad. Yep. Canned mixed fruit, with canned mandarine oranges, and fresh sliced bananas, mixed with whipped cream. Mum and Carolyn love, love, love this.

I think it’s funny that my mum who was such a great cook and who usually made everything from scratch should love this fruit salad so much. Mind you, the tinned fruit had to be properly drained, and the cream had to be real whipped cream, not too sweet, and the bananas sliced just so. But still, that this dish should have pride of place beside the turkey, homemade stuffing, the from-scratch cranberry and orange relish, Mum’s pickled beets, and “chow-chow.” Not to mention the mince pies, steamed plum pudding, elaborately decorated fruitcake, and an array of tiny cookies that she’d been baking all fall. Well, it’s a testament to the idea that a Christmas tradition can be anything you love. Period.

We always had this fruit salad on Christmas at home. And my sister always served it with Christmas dinner at her house. But not at my house. The first year I took Hubby home for Christmas, before he was my Hubby, he was stymied by the idea that something which he considers dessert was served with the main meal. And since I don’t relish the idea of eating the whole bowl myself, I don’t make it anymore.

My own favourite part of Christmas is Christmas Eve. I have always preferred Christmas Eve to Christmas Day. As a child I remember the tree all lit up, the house shining, and a sense of quiet excitement and expectation.

When I was older, after Mum married my stepfather, the decorated house and shining tree, and the sense of everything ready and waiting on Christmas Eve was still important to me. But there was also the excitement of us all being at home, for by then my sisters and brother lived elsewhere. My brother was married and spent Christmas with his family, but us girls and my step-brother were together at Christmas for a few more years. I loved the feeling that we were all at home, tucked up safely in the old farmhouse.

I remember in those years my mum used to use Christmas Eve as a time to try new supper recipes. I’m laughing as I write that because it just occurred to me that after all the hours and hours of baking Mum put in all fall, crossing each item off her lengthy list before she packed it away in the freezer. And with the knowledge that she’d be up early on Christmas morning to put the turkey in the oven and finish the salads. I can’t imagine how she had any appetite for cooking something new on Christmas Eve. But she did.

I remember the year she made quiche Lorraine, from her newly acquired Mastering the Art of French Cooking. That was a big hit. I mean, you have to understand that in New Brunswick in the early seventies no one had even heard of quiche Lorraine.

I always preferred those homey Christmas Eve suppers to the big spread on Christmas Day. And I still do.

Another of my family’s Christmas traditions, which started sometime back in the seventies at home, and which Hubby and I still carry on, is the naming of our Christmas trees. I know, weird eh? It all started one year back on the farm when Lloyd left the tree out in the loafing barn, and it got rained on and then froze. When he brought it in the house the ends of the branches were all kinked and curled up, as if the poor tree had arthritis in its fingers. We named it Arthur. We loved that poor misshapen little tree. Mum and I still speak fondly of Arthur.

One of my favourite parts of Christmas on the farm was when Lloyd would hitch Myrt the horse up to the big logging sled and we’d head out into the bush to cut our tree. Hubby and I always cut our own tree too. But without the horse and sled, more’s the pity.

A couple of times, back in the eighties, when we’d had lots of pre-Christmas snow, Hubby and I skied way back in the bush on crown land and dragged a tree home. Not strictly allowed, I know. But I’m sure the crown didn’t miss one tree. Or that’s what we told ourselves anyway. We don’t do that anymore. We’re reformed. We still like to cut our own though, but now we buy it from a tree farm.

The very first tree we had when we were first together we called Lucy. I have no idea why. At the time Hubby was a little leery of naming a Christmas tree. But he soon entered into the spirit of make believe. In fact a couple of years ago when we were out skiing the skidoo trails on the same crown land where we used to hunt for a tree, Hubby stopped and said nostalgically, “That’s where we found Lucy, remember?”

A few years ago we named our short and very round tree Boris. It seemed appropriate. Every morning the tree stand was bone dry. And Hubby joked about how much Boris drank. I remember writing about Boris on the blog and how he was such a heavy drinker that Hubby threatened to put vodka in the tree stand instead of water. Ha.

Out and about in the “Tick” trying to keep my hat from blowing off.

This year our tree is very refined looking. In fact it’s one of the best trees we’ve ever had. If you like perfection that is. We named him Nigel after the lovely man from whom we bought him. A transplanted Brit running a tree farm in Canada. I wonder how many of those there are.

You know, Christmas traditions can be anything we want. Anything we love to do and which brings us joy. Or laughter. Or contentment. It doesn’t have to be about perfect hostess outfits. If you want to eschew that silk skirt for flannelette pyjamas, go for it. Our most cherished moments don’t have to be all about the photo op, or the matching family outfits, or the perfect “table-scape.” Maybe it’s all about a salad made from tinned fruit. A gnarled Christmas tree. Or a tatty decoration you made in grade five and still hang on the tree.

Or whatever floats your boat. It is your boat, after all.

As I drove into the village the other day to finish up my Christmas shopping I listened to Tom Power on CBC radio. Tom is from Newfoundland. And he hosts a daily radio program about pop culture. On this day he was chatting with a couple of comedians from Cape Breton who host a podcast. I was laughing out loud as I drove, so I parked the car and sat listening until the end of segment. “Tracy and Martina” were chatting with Tom about Christmas, and in part about about what they loved to eat and drink at Christmas where they live. Boxed wine may have been mentioned, and fried bologna, and chicken bones. Chicken bones are a candy made by Ganong’s in New Brunswick and loved by all Maritimers. Okay, maybe we don’t all love them, but they are a downeast Christmas tradition. You can read about chicken bones here.

And have a listen to Tom’s interview by clicking the link below. Maritimers love to laugh at themselves, people. Hope you get a laugh too.

Tracy and Martina from Cape Breton talk Christmas traditions with CBC’s Tom Power.

Meet Nigel. All dressed in his finery and waiting for Christmas.

That’s all from me tonight my friends. In twenty minutes our favourite Christmas story comes on CBC radio. Hubby and I both love to listen to Alan Maitland read “The Shepherd” by Frederick Forsyth. Every, every year. It’s a tradition.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday. Whatever and however you celebrate. And even if you don’t celebrate. May you find joy and contentment, warmth and good cheer. Best wishes from Hubby and me and Nigel. As I write that, I am envisioning our tree speaking with a slight English accent. Okay… that IS weird.

Now… I really must close. I have to get into my flannelette pyjamas and pour the wine.

And besides, it’s your turn to talk. What’s your favourite Christmas tradition?


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From the archives


On Love and Laughter and Having to Pee

After my latest sojourn in New Brunswick, I've come to the conclusion that love and laughter are the secret to growing old with equanimity.

Thirty years On … 1984 to 2014 … and Onwards

1984 was a big year for me. I quit a very stressful job that I loathed. I packed up all my furniture and belongings and put them in storage while I scuttled back to the family farm in Eastern Canada to lick my wounds. View of the Saint John River from the top of the hill on the farm at home in New Brunswick I started to eat healthy; I quit smoking; I read books; I took up knitting; I spent time with my family and took stock of myself. I needed to decide what I was going to do ...

Reading at the Automat

Ever eaten at the automat? A panoply of food stretches off into the distance and you try not to choose everything. Kind of like with reading.

69 thoughts on “Merry Christmas from “The ‘Tick.””

  1. I have a tatty star atop our tree. Made from two pieces of cardboard cut into a star-shape, covered in aluminum foil, stapled together, except at the base. That’s where the spindly think at the top of the tree is inserted. My sister made it when she was in early grade school. I’m not sure how I wound up with it, but every year no matter the state of our relationship, I text her a photo of it atop our tree as a reminder that, no matter what, she is my little, beloved sister.

  2. Merry Christmas to you, and thank you for all your work on the blog – so enjoy reading!

    Just curious – why gluten-free treats?

  3. Christmas traditions around the world are very interesting . I’d never heard of Tourtiere until you mentioned it . We don’t eat meat & I don’t like dried fruit so our Christmas food is very untraditional . Christmas starts properly for us with Carols from Kings College on Christmas Eve TV , love carols – they take me back to my childhood .After that there’s a little get together with our neighbours . This year we’ve opted for a quiet Christmas Day at home so there’ll be a morning dog walk , wishing passers by a merry Christmas then home for Buck’s Fizz ( seems to be a new tradition ) whilst opening our few presents , books mainly , before we have our meal . Then we shall settle down by the fire to enjoy our new books or watch some TV . There are Christmas specials of The Detectorists & Motherland to look forward to , two of our favourite comedies . Boxing Day will be just six of us at my sisters for a curry buffet . I’m taking a fresh fruit salad for dessert – not to accompany Turkey 😁
    Hope you , Stu & Nigel have a great Christmas & don’t keel over at any point .
    Stay safe in the storms all of you over there .

    1. Merry Christmas to you and Max, Wendy. I don’t think that Nigel will keel over. He is such a proper little tree. Can’t say the same for Stu and myself. Ha.

  4. I’ll very happily steal your tradition of naming the tree. The family will love it too.
    Wishing you a warm and happy Christmas. Thanks for your blog. Sue

  5. When your blog pops up in my email I read it first! I found you just before the purchase of your new green coat which I love. I feel as though I have a fabulous new friend. Don’t stop writing and don’t stop talking. A very Merry Christmas to you, Hubby and Nigel.

  6. Lovely stories about Christmas!
    I utterly love fruit salad with real whipped cream (although, in my case, only pineapple is from the can-because I’m too lazy -all the other fruits are fresh)-it is so refreshing !
    Christmas Eve is my favourite day of the year,too! We go to “špica”, in the centre of town,to have coffee and prosseco,and after that, to lunch. I will slowly cook dinner (very simple,prawns with pasta), while listening to Christmas music (it is just happening,IRT,as I write :)). My tree is ready,cookies ,too.
    This year,I have a special treat for Boxing day! I’ll be at home, reading,as all the normal people :)!
    Merry, joyful and peaceful Christmas !
    Happy holidays!

    1. Back when I was a kid fresh fruit in the winter was a big treat. We even found oranges in our Christmas stockings. I think that now my family still makes the salad with canned fruit because it doesn’t taste the same otherwise. Hope you have a wonderful, holiday, my friend.

      1. Sorry,I didn’t think about it!
        We were deprived of a lot of things (jeans f.e.), but after sixties,fruits were not among them (thanks to Non-Aligment Nations Movement)

      2. Oranges in the Christmas stocking are a must. They are the first thing to go in. My grown son laughed when he pulled out the somewhat old orange from the toe of his stocking this year. I’d forgotten to buy the oranges and used one that had been around for a while.

  7. Christmas traditions sound lovely and charming in your neck of the woods.
    I just looked up Tourtiere and it sounds yummy especially for this time of year. I’m going to try making one for New Years. I love trying new recipes.
    Thank you so much for your blogs, you paint such clear and vibrant pictures I can imagine every detail as if I were there. So glad I discovered you!
    Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday season.
    P from Barrington, Illinois

    1. Tourtière is a Quebec tradition. But we have happily adopted it. We love it with a salad and Hubby’s homemade mustard pickles on the side. Thanks for the kind words… and for reading.

        1. I’ll have a look around Annie. I use my friend’s recipe and another one I found on-line which suggests different herbs and spices. They are both heavily marked up with notes… and stains.

  8. We had that fruit salad when I was young and all of us were at home. We loved it and tried to get to the leftovers first. 🙂

    I love that you name your tree. Enjoy the cozy of Christmas Eve…we are still in blizzard conditions and hunkered down. We’ll be watching movies and eating cookies watching the Norad Santa trip. Merry Christmas!

    1. I love that you had fruit salad in your family too, Laurel. Mum’s fruit salad is even better with leftovers. But we always had to get to the leftover salad before my sister. Ha.

  9. Merry Christmas Sue, hope you have a wonderful holiday. I just finished making Bing Cherry Jello salad. My Mom made it every Christmas and now I make it. And yes, my husband does not understand dessert at the main meal. Speaking of Lucy, our Granddaughter Lucy will have her first taste of the jello fruit salad this Christmas. Happy Holidays to one and all.

  10. and mix/keeps well,forgot about that for my dinner. HAPPY whatever you celebrate! I do enjoy about your musings. Has helped a lot this year, for me!

  11. One of my new holiday traditions is waiting to hear what you have named your tree . 😊
    I want to say a Huge thank you to you, Sue. Your weekly blog, and vlogs have been the nicest gift that you could give. You have also fostered a community of commenters that are thoughtful, funny and always interesting. Wouldn’t it be interesting to be able to meet up with everyone in person, at an outing somewhere.
    Merry Christmas to you and your hubby . Also wishing Season greetings and a healthy and happy New Year to all your followers.

  12. “The Tick” is now on my bucket list of places to visit!!! Your photos are so enticing. Somehow the fruit salad/whipped cream side dish made it to Cincinnati, Ohio in the 1940’s, when I was growing up. My family was German on both sides but we sure did love that dish. I added it to my menu when I was newly married in the 1960’s. Somehow it faded away. I think because my husband and sons weren’t fans. Traditions do change. We always had a big Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve so I wouldn’t have to deal with prep. after being awakened at dawn for Santa Claus surprises. A low key brunch followed the gift opening and then left overs to nibble on all day on the 25th. This year tradition has changed again…my oldest granddaughter, age 19 and home from college, is working at a restaurant till 8:30 tonight. The family will go to church at 7 (I’ll watch it live stream from their living room (because of various viruses flying around, I’m avoiding big gatherings) and then we’ll have a cheese fondue late supper when we’re all home together. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring….brunch for sure and maybe a slow cooker something for later. I do hope the 3 teen agers sleep in like they do on normal weekends. My son is the chef and I’m just along for the meal. Merry Christmas and thank you for your words and memories that make me so happy.

    1. Christmas leftovers are one of the best parts of the holiday. When we spent Christmas Day at my sister’s house I always missed having the smell of turkey roasting in the house, and leftovers to eat for days. Boxing Day is for books and leftovers in my mind.

  13. PS
    I no longer put up a tree because my space is small but my son’s family has two big trees and I definitely think we should name them!!!! I’ll suggest that when I’m over there later. Hmmmmm…..Lucy and Ethel? Romeo and Juliet? I could go on and on but I won’t.

  14. You make Manotick sound and look so…quaint🤣 Calling it The Tick must be a new thing, never heard that used before.
    Glad you just featured photos of the best buildings (they are lovely) and avoided featuring the ever encroaching urban sprawl that is eating the area up. It’s not the ‘village’ of yore anymore🥲
    My favourite Christmas tradition is having babies! LOL one on the 24th and one on the 21st, five years apart! They are old men now of 26 and 31 but still come home for the ‘meal’ even though coming home is driving a few blocks from Mechanicsville or taking the LRT from Booth St.
    Merry Christmas to you from further north…that would be good old O-town!

    1. The ‘Tick is not new… it’s old. I first heard it in the early eighties when I came to a house party out here and the host asked if I had ever been to the ‘Tick before. Occasionally some of my friends who are originally from here will use the term as well. I know that there is a lot of new urban sprawl around us. And the village has changed. But the small streets around Main Street remain much the same except some of the houses are now a spa or a cafe. Even Main Street is better than it’s been in years in my opinion with the addition of small shops and restaurants. It’s too bad that some of the original buildings were torn down back in the day and new ugly ones put up in their place. But the new building that replaces the old tea room looks way better in my opinion. And I love that the new coffee shop “692,” situated in the old Lindsay and McCaffrey General Store building has preserved the original floors and the old counters from the store. To me Manotick has much more of a village feel than it did when I first moved here in 1986. Speaking of Mechanicsville, Hubby’s cousin’s son has renovated his father’s small house in that part of town. It’s lovely; I love it and the neighbourhood. Merry Christmas to you too. 🙂

      1. Did they take down the Miller’s Oven building? I honestly haven’t been down there for awhile but I was the original summer cook when the tea room opened ‘83 and it was part of the senior citizens drop in program. I was a student and it was quite a learning curve. We had the sweetest senior volunteers, the gentleman volunteered on Wednesdays….as long as there were a few pies held back for their lunch! When the CBC and the Ottawa Citizen came calling without prior notification it was a nightmare but it put the little volunteer tea room on the map! I was famously 🙁 featured in the newspaper article as ‘only the cook gets paid’ My brother had that descriptor printed on a chef’s apron for me. Next year I graduated and to make better use of my clinical skills I hired on with TOH. I never forgot that summer though. I just don’t remember any of those senior locals call the town The Tick:) Gosh they would all be gone now but I could write a book!!

  15. Nigel is certainly a handsome gent!

    In the early years of our marriage we always cut our own tree at a tree farm. One year ours was full of tiny grasshoppers; we must have snuffed out 100 a day. The first Christmas after our daughter was born, I would turn on the tree lights when I got up in the wee hours to nurse her. On the ceiling above the tree I could see the shadow of its resident spider working away in the upper branches.

    Our traditional Christmas meal has evolved, which I guess means it’s no longer a tradition. One year our daughter’s Jewish in-laws were visiting, and we all went out for Chinese (their tradition). Another recent year it was a beautiful prime rib; the sink backed up and we couldn’t wash the dishes for 36 hours. This year we’ll have a big Christmas Eve pork roast dinner with our “children” and grandkids (who’ll prefer chicken nuggets or quesadillas), and on Christmas, after a big breakfast (ALWAYS featuring my husband’s homemade cinnamon rolls—that never changes) we’ll open gifts, have a leisurely day, there will be naps, and we’ll make Cuban sandwiches from the leftover pork for dinner.

    Your blog is always a joy. Merry Christmas to you and Hubby and Nigel, and happy holidays (or peaceful rest) to all!

  16. I love naming things, always my cars, my favorite plants, snowmen and our turkeys. We have turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The name has to start with a T and the grandchildren now have that very important responsibility. The tradition is over 50 years old, I started when my daughter was born and we are going to great lengths now to find names as they must not be repeated. Each turkey deserves its own special identity.

    1. That sounds like fun, Susan. When I was in high school all the animals on our farm had names. Even the ones destined for the pot. And my step-brother used to love to shock my friends from town by asking his father “who” we were eating at suppertime.

  17. Thank you for this lovely Gift! The last few days I had Joni Mitchell’s “River” running through my head and was feeling rather melancholy- for no particular reason. It has been a good year and I am a fortunate woman. I appreciate your beautiful pictures and thoughtful words. Thank you for the glimpses into your world in the Tick. Nigel is a real looker, too. Merry Christmas to you and Stu!

  18. We always had canned fruit cocktail too but ours was suspended in red jello and served with the main course. It just seems to go with turkey. This year we were in Florida for American Thanksgiving so I made red jello with canned fruit cocktail to share the spirit of the season and I was the only one who touched it. Sigh! Thanks for sharing your seasonal memories. P.S. I too am from a small town in Ontario and still mourn the beautiful old limestone buildings that the town saw fit to demolish in the 70s and 80s. A tragedy!

    1. I do believe some sort of jelly salad (made with Jell-O) made an appearance on our table too, Lynda. We’re lucky that they seem to have finally received the message in our village. And the truly historic buildings remain untouched.

  19. Sue, This was a wonderful read and love hearing about your traditions. And I really agree about Christmas Eve dinner vs Christmas day. I don’t put up a tree but I could see me naming one if I did. The only problem I see is when you are throwing are taking it down and disposing of it. ha ha. Jean

  20. I make two chocolate pies every Christmas. One pie is made just for my 4 grandchildren. They cut the pie in 4ths and devour it. It gives me great pleasure that they love my chocolate pie, but the greater pleasure is the memories that have been created. I remember when they were little with chocolate faces and sticky hands feeling special because they knew they were getting to do something their parents would never allow any other time. Now almost grown they say, “Mimi get the pies ready we’re on our way!”

  21. Merry Christmas from Seattle, Sue! I love reading your blog. Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the holiday season as well: it’s my birthday!

  22. We love to do the Globe and Mail holiday crossword. Since we can no longer get a paper copy of the Globe in NB, I subscribe to the online version and receive the crossword as a pdf that requires 17 pages to print it out. When all the sections are taped together it makes a giant crossword that we set up on the kitchen island and work away at over the holidays. All our guests help out too and it has become my favourite activity for Christmas. As you might have read, we sold our home this year and are renting one nearby while we build this summer. I was really happy the rental house has a big island too because we need a place for the puzzle😂. I was rushing around yesterday trying to get everything ready and when I tried to print out the 17 pages… printer ran out of ink and I panicked! I was able to email the pdf to the local hardware store that my friend from high school owns and she printed it for me there and we had a nice visit when I went to pick it up….small town life❤️ Hope you have a restful holiday😊

    1. I didn’t know that you’d sold your home, Denise. That beautiful old house… you must miss it. Are you planning to build on the lake? What about the beer business??
      P.S. Love that story about the hardware store owner. I can so relate to that.

  23. Merry Christmas, Sue! This will have to b e quick as I’m baking tourtières (3 regular, 1 vegetarian — I know! but sometimes traditions need to be flexible) to bring to my sister’s big Christmas Eve gathering later this afternoon — a tradition one of my daughters started for me about 15 years ago by suggesting it would be nice if we made one together when they she came with her husband for Christmas. Then she sent me the recipe and arrived too late to help with it. And I did a good enough job that she figured I could solo from then on 😉
    And this morning I put together the trifle that another daughter asked me to make for Christmas dinner — she’s hosting, so I could hardly say no, but I’d already made a Christmas pudding that was to be my offering, a tradition my sister and I decided to revive about 3 years ago, in honour of our Dad who used to make them and loved carrying them to the table all a-flame!. But the daughter who requested the trifle was remembering a Trifle Tradition I’d maintained in her childhood and teens. . . .so we’ll be double-desserting tomorrow. Never a bad thing, really!
    Oh, and thanks for reminding me about “chicken bones” — they used to show up here on the West Coast as well.

  24. Love the sound of your traditions and think Nigel is a great name for a tree.
    As a child Christmas wasn’t a huge celebration as my parents were Scots so their big day was Hogmanay. Various of their friends took turns to host Christmas dinner but Mum always held the NewYear’s Eve party which would start about 7pm and still going at 7am the next morning.
    We’ve developed our own traditions which start with ham and cheese croissants and bubbles. Once the present unwrapping chaos is cleared away and various grandchildren are busy with new toys then it is coffee and Christmas cake time. The cake having been made back in October and mellowing nicely in its coating of brandy.
    In the afternoon the barbeque is fired up (summer here) and a succession of little platters of seafood are cooked and eaten. Late afternoon sees the arrival of a glazed baked ham and a baked salmon side accompanied by various salads and maybe roast potatoes if it is cool enough to have the oven on. Dessert has to be white chocolate cheesecake and trifle made to my mother’s recipe. Trifle is Xmas pudding according to one grandchild. The whole day runs at it’s own pace and we just relax and enjoy the day.
    Alas this year Hubby and I both have covid despite double vaccinations and two boosters so we are in isolation and to be honest could probably only manage a piece of toast. Hopefully we will be on the mend when our daughter and her family arrive from Australia in a few days and we can have a delayed celebration along with our son and his family.
    I hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas and look forward to many more interesting and thought provoking discussions from “The ‘Tick”

  25. Merry Christmas from Arizona Sue! I love your blog and your honest, candid views. Our children and grands are scattered this holiday, so it’s just the 2 of us and I’m looking forward to a quiet and low key Christmas. Our next door neighbor will come over in the morning for mimosas and we are going out for Christmas dinner. Growing up in northeast Ohio we had a fruit salad called five cup salad for special occasions. 1 cup mandarin oranges, 1 cup pineapple, 1 cup mini marshmallows, 1 cup coconut and 1 cup sour cream. Sometimes pecans and maraschino cherries were added, I haven’t had it in years!
    Have a lovely holiday.

  26. I used to listen to The Shepherd with my sweetie. His father was a Lancaster pilot during WW2. We listened in total silence, barely moving. It’s so well read, so gripping.
    Thanks for reminding me. I have to listen on my own now as I did this evening. It is still a very moving Christmas Eve story. It describes so vividly what it must have been like flying across the channel in the dark. I shudder at the thought.
    Here’s to old and new traditions.

  27. Merry Christmas Sue, I am writing from a little town in Bavaria near the
    Alps. It is so nice to read that I am not the only person to name a Christmas tree.
    From the rather stately Georg Friedrich to the elegant Jean this year, to remind us of a family holiday in France. At first my family thought me a bit crazy but now they like it.
    Happy New Year to you and all your readers

  28. What a wonderful Blog Sue giving us a glimpse of your Canadian traditions. For me, Christmas is all about Music. On Christmas Eve I get ready to sit down and listen to the Carols from St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. My Father was once the head chorister who sang the opening Carol, Once in Royal David’s City. When that service is over I switch on to Kings College Cambridge to listen to their Carols. I think that listening to the wonderful music gets me in the mood of what Christmas is supposed to be about! The food takes second place. As myself and Partner are with friends celebrating Christmas in a tiny hamlet in the hills of ALMERIA so no cooking for me today! Although I cooked a pre Christmas dinner for friends a week ago. It was the traditional Irish meal, roast turkey with home made stuffing, gammon and all the trimmings. The plum pudding was a left over one from last year which I served with brandy butter and cream. Sue, it’s time now to add my greetings to you and hubby and all your readers, Have A Wonderful Christmas Everyone.

  29. Being in a hot climate, for generations Christmas lunch has been lots of salads and cold cuts. As a child I used to eat the tiniest amount, so I could then fill up on the sweet stuff. As an adult my tradition became to go straight for the pavlova and trifle.

  30. In recent years, I have been tossing off Christmas traditions. About the only thing left is meeting up with a few friends and exchanging gifts.
    Merry Christmas, Sue and thank you for the enjoyable reading this year, both your blog and your book recommendations.

  31. I chuckled at your naming of your trees – particularly Boris! we dont have a real tree unfortunately as they would last about 15 minutes in an Australian summer. the real tree smell is one of the things I miss from my Scottish childhood. we put up the tree the first weekend in december and have to watch Love Actually during the process. i love to look at designer colour coordinated trees but my sentimental side overrules my decorating side. i have been lucky enough to travel a lot and buy christmas decorations from every country. i like to reminisce and bore my daughter with the same travel stories every year as we put them on the tree. i also have the wrapper from a chocolate santa which my daughter put on the tree when she was two and it has come out faithfully every year since (she is 28) i hope your christmas was lovely and all the best for 2023

  32. I enjoyed reading about your Christmas traditions and memories, Sue. Ours is a nucleus of English Christmas in a small Greek town, since ever since I’ve lived here I’ve done the whole thing, home-made Christmas cake, pudding, and mince pies, the full turkey lunch on Christmas day. And of course the stockings for the children, which people don’t do here. Doesn’t matter what is happening outside the walls of this house, in here it’s the whole British Christmas !
    I do get a bit frazzled, but as long as I can keep on doing it I will.
    I wish you and Stu a very Happy, Healthy 2023, and look forward to reading your blog again next year, which I so much enjoy.

  33. Loved the snowy pix. Very Robert Frost! My cousin emigrated to Canada over 50 years ago and I never saw her again. Among other projects, she had a gift shop in New Brunswick called La Baleine. I wonder if any commenters remember it?

    Happy New Year!

  34. p.s Just to add that we are surrounded by pine-forest covered mountains so it does look quite Christmassy, but it’s rare for us to have snow until the New Year.

  35. Sharleen Millering

    Here in the US we have something similar called ambrosia. A mixture of canned fruit, generally fruit cocktail, with marshmallows and maraschino cherries mixed with sour cream! I love reading your blog……you think!

  36. We always had 5-cup-salad, also known as ambrosia. It used canned pineapple and canned mandarin oranges. My husband and I have been talking about how fresh mandarines or tangerines were such a luxury during Thanksgiving and Christmas when we were kids. Now you can buy them on sale for months on end.
    I still stuff celery with cream cheese and olives every Thanksgiving and Christmas. While I have dropped some of the traditions, I also decorate cutout sugar cookies with a simple buttercream frosting (all the colors). Once, I baked so many types of cookies. Now it is only those sugar cookies.
    My mother stuffed dates with fondant. Some had a half walnut in the middle. Those were very sweet, but good.
    My mother loves chicken bones. I have found them a few times and sent them to her. I’m going to read that article.
    Thank you for a year of wonderful posts and for a lovely post about Christmas traditions.

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