When I was an Au Pair, I decided to stay in Europe for the holiday season to travel around instead of returning to Canada to be with my family. As magical as it was listening to Mozart’s music in Vienna, there were a few traditions that I truly missed while being away. Since I grew up in a Catholic family, my traditions revolve around the celebration of Christmas where we would celebrate on December 25th. Here are some of my all-time favourite Canadian Holiday Traditions that I realized I missed so much while being away:

Reunion of friends
I grew up in a small town and I have know some of my friends from this town since I was 6 months old and my mom would hold play dates in our backyard for the neighbour kids. Now, these beautiful people are my life-long friends and we have all dispersed throughout this world. The holidays mean everyone jumping on a train, plane or donkey to make it back home and we all get to be reunited again.

Family time
Although some people dread the family time, I see it as an opportunity to watch my nieces and nephews play with each other and create their own memories. Getting together with my cousins was such a joyful time where we would play teacher in the basement or put on skits for our parents. I can now watch my own nieces and nephews take the torch and make their own special memories.

Holiday movies
My Christmas season would not be complete without watching some of my all-time favourite movies: Elf, A Christmas Story and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer just to name a few. These movies bring back a feeling of nostalgia of my Dad and I watching them while my Mom was at Mass singing in the choir. It also brings back the special feeling of relaxing after a long day of visiting family or decorating the Christmas tree. For my family, Christmas day would not be complete without Irving Berlin’s A White Christmas and dozing off right after the “Sister’s” song and waking up just before “Choreography”.

Local shopping
Some people say, “This time of year is about the presence, not the presents.” While true, we are all still going to give a gift to the special people in our lives. When shopping for presents, I try to avoid malls at all cost and stick to local shopping. There are so many fantastic shops in your local towns and cities to check out! This year, I went to a shop called Itzy Bitzy Glitzy to get personalized super hero capes for the little ones. Try finding that at Walmart! Plus, you will truly make a different shopping local than going to a big department store.

Candy Cane Ice Cream
Forget the eggnog! Candy Cane Ice Cream is where it is at for creamy treats. Vanilla ice cream, mixed with crushed candy cane and chocolate bits! Delicious! Since it is only available this time of year, it makes it even more desirable. If you haven’t tried it out yet, make sure you give it a chance; it’ll rock you world!

See what some of your Au Pair’s favourite holiday traditions are and try to include them into your holiday season this year. Also, be sure to share with your Au Pair your own favourite holiday traditions. She may want to try to a new holiday treat, go ice-skating or watch It’s a Wonderful Life. Anything new will make her holiday season in Canada a little more special.

Written by Sarah Kelly