Toronto Zoo

Holiday Memories

By: Marylene Vestergom

What makes the holidays special?

Sometimes it’s the memories of family gatherings — the exotic aromas coming from the kitchen, the scent of freshly cut evergreens or the festive lights twinkling in the night that strike a chord. For others, childhood memories play an important role. This year, along with our memories of old, new traditions will be made. Family and friends, near and far, will find a way to celebrate, share, laugh and rejoice. Here are a few treasured memories we wanted to share. 

“During the holidays, I think a lot about families who are separated or divorced. My son is a child of divorce, and he would travel between my house and his father’s, and there were some years that we weren’t together on Christmas day. I always told him that Christmas is when we make it Christmas. The traditions that we created together are what make the holidays so special to me. Now more than ever, Canadians will need to make new traditions.  Maybe it’s opening a stocking early or virtual carolling; 2020 is a unique year and a great opportunity to create lasting memories and new traditions that families can carry on for many years.”

Marilyn Denis – Host THE MARILYN DENIS SHOW and co-host of Marilyn & Jamar on CHUM 104.5.

“On Christmas Eve, my family would always go to my Dad’s side, so we’d have dinner at my grandma’s and she’d make these amazing baked perogies and this super-heavy onion gravy. We’d eat so much, we’d need to lie down for an hour! She passed away a couple of years ago. Now Marin and her mom have been making them and they’ve pretty much mastered it. So, we keep her memory and this traditional meal alive by making them for Christmas. It’s a delicious family tradition that we’ll definitely keep alive and pass down to the boys.”

Borody Family – Cam, Marin, Olen, 2, and Brenner, 6.

“Hannukah is my favourite time of year because it’s when my grandparents make a surprise visit.  My mom’s parents live in B.C., and my dad’s parents live out East, so seeing them during the holidays is pretty special.  My wish is that the pandemic could end so I could see my grandparents again—and soon.”

Abe, Age 10

“The best part is sharing this special day with all my relatives. We also have a family tradition from Holland of drawing names for gifts we have to make, and writing a special poem about them.  It’s a lot of fun. But, none of that can start until I wake up my sister, Samantha.”

Max, Age 9

“Christmas morning starts with my brother, Max, shaking me awake and yelling, ‘Wake up! It’s Christmas! Wake up!’ We both run downstairs and, in the background, we hear our mom, ‘You can’t open your presents or stockings until you eat breakfast and everyone is awake.’ When we finally make our way to the living room, I see our beautiful Christmas tree standing straight and tall with all the presents underneath with their shiny bows. But, the gifts under the tree aren’t the first thing we go for. Instead we head straight for the stockings hanging over the fireplace.  The best part is sharing this time with our mom, dad, Aunt Lois and my brother Max.”

Samantha, Age 11