10 things I love about Christmas

It's a magic time of year, filled with hot chocolate, shortbread, classic movies, and cuddly, brand-new PJs.

Julie Andrews teaches her young wards to sing in the screen adaptation of The Sound of Music

1. Hot chocolate. I’m not sure why I still crave this sweet treat at Christmastime, but it’s probably because I have very fond memories of sipping hot chocolate (complete with a handful of mini marshmallows, of course!) after trudging through snow on the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree.

2. Shortbread, and more shortbread. Yes. I love cookies, and my favourites – cranberry shortbread and apricot jam thumbprints – only make their appearance at Christmas.

3. Twinkling lights. I love lights on homes, in store windows, on mantels and trees. I can think of few things prettier than the starry, inspired glow of twinkling Christmas lights.

4. Carols. From “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” to “Jingle Bell Rock,” I love the smile these seasonal tunes bring unabashedly to people’s faces, including mine.

5. Classic movies – of the seasonal variety. For more years than I would prefer to disclose, the Grinch has made an annual appearance on my TV. I expect he will again this year, along with The Sound of Music, A Christmas Carol, Home Alone, White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, and my most recent addition to the lineup, Love Actually.

6. New Pajamas. Cuddly, warm and often obnoxious in their design, nothing reminds me of good Christmas memories more often during the year than the gift of Christmas PJs.

7. Mail of the snail variety. Once a year, the trips to the mailbox become a delight because bills and advertising flyers are replaced – or at least outnumbered – by cards and photos from friends and family near and far.

8. Traditions. Sometimes corny and definitely predictable, family traditions bring a sense of timelessness and comfort. In my family, it’s a trip to the Stanley Park Christmas train, turkey dinner with all the trimmings, and Christmas Crackers complete with paper crowns and knock-knock jokes.

9. Christmas Trees decorated in all their glory.

10. Magic. Whether you celebrate the meaning of Christmas from a religious perspective or a secular one, the sense of magic and love that the holiday season brings cannot be missed.

It’s a time of year when little ones’ eyes sparkle with wonder, families spend time together, and communities make extra efforts to care for one another.

Magic is what Christmas is really about…

….the magic of reaching out and celebrating with each other. We do it freely during the holiday season. We often extend a helping hand to those in need. We pause and do the things that, frankly, we forget to do the rest of year. In the midst of all of the commercial trappings of the holiday season, we reflect on the year that has just ended and set goals for the year ahead.

And, truth be told, our reflections and hopes for the future are never about the kinds of stuff you find under a Christmas tree.

Most of us wish for continued good health for those we love and more time to spend with the people in our lives from whom we draw happiness and strength. Some of us commit – or perhaps recommit – to activities that will strengthen our communities.

At Christmas, we celebrate the magic of life. Let us all remember that this magic can be found throughout the year. It’s easy to find, free to pass on, and is the best gift we can give to ourselves and each other.

We are all better as individuals, as families, and as communities if we take a moment to find the magic in every day throughout the year.

– Stephanie Cadieux is B.C. Minister of Children and Family Development and MLA for Surrey-Cloverdale.

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