’Twas the night before Christmas …

The lights will be artfully strung, the family heirloom decorations will be carefully hung, and the boys will murmur appropriate and truthful praise

’Twas the night before Christmas …It’s the week before Christmas and all through the forest it’s cold, wet and dark at 5 a.m. when I awaken. We’re going to bed at 9 p.m. in this part of the world because the sun sets at 4:30 p.m. and it’s pitch dark at 5:30. The leaves have definitively fallen from all of…

Christmas dream routes through East Germany

Erfurt, Potsdam and Rostock, in East Germany, rival many of their big city cousins, especially during the Christmas season

Christmas dream routes through East GermanyLike Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, emerging from a world of black and white, East Germany has been transformed into a Technicolor version of its former self. While relatively unknown to those outside of the country, the cities of Erfurt, Potsdam and Rostock have been transformed into vibrant tourist hot spots that rival many…

This Christmas, resolve to go device-free one day a week

Starting this Christmas, have the guts to turn off the phone for a few days – okay, start with one day – and contemplate what you have to celebrate

This Christmas, resolve to go device-free one day a weekSomeone asked me the other day if I missed the mayhem of owning a business at Christmas time. The truth is, I do. While I don’t miss taking inventory, all the extra hours, the squeeze of trying to find enough time for family and customers, figuring out if there should be a Christmas bonus or…

Silent Night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright

For 199 years, this beloved Christmas carol has resonated. More than 26,000 versions have been recorded and it enticed soldiers to lay down their arms

Silent Night, holy night, all is calm, all is brightSilent Night, which is probably the most famous Christmas carol of all, will be 199 years old this Christmas Eve. It was first performed at the parish church in the Austrian village of Oberndorf during midnight mass on Dec. 24, 1818. And, fittingly, the performers included the two men who’d written it. The words had…

Not feeling the holiday magic?

There are no perfect holidays. Accept your limitations and honour those activities that make you feel good when you do them

Not feeling the holiday magic?Not feeling it this season? Started getting stressed as soon as you saw the Christmas decorations go up the day after Halloween? I’m guessing that it’s not because you’re famous for being able to give the Grinch a run for his money. You can get by most of the time without people thinking your heart…

O Tannenbaum symbolizes the entire celebration of Christmas

The Christmas tree is a universal symbol that delivers a message of endurance and light during the dark winter months

O Tannenbaum symbolizes the entire celebration of ChristmasThe traditional German song O Tannenbaum is often translated as O Christmas Tree. This is only partly true, however. The English version is quite different from the German. The essence of the German song is far more universal. One of the beauties of learning languages is discovering what words and poetry mean to the people…

Celebrating Christmas in 18th and 19th century Alberta

Christmas was more primitive in the 18th  and mid-19th century, but it was still Christmas – joy and fellowship were, and are, its primary expression

Celebrating Christmas in 18th and 19th century AlbertaTurn the clock back to the late 18th century and mid-19th century Alberta, and chances are you’d be eating fish, beavertail, and stewed moose rather than roasted turkey and honey-glazed ham for Christmas dinner. Instead of rockin’ to tunes emanating from audio systems and iPods, you’re more likely to be dancing the jig to the sounds of…

Give of yourself to get this Christmas

I don’t have a surplus of cash to donate during the Christmas season. Being a Salvation Army bell ringer is my way of giving back

Give of yourself to get this ChristmasI don’t have a surplus of cash to donate at Christmastime – or any time of year. I can’t afford to put a bill in the kettle every time I encounter a Salvation Army bell ringer. And yet, I’ve found a way to give to their worthy cause this Christmas. I donate my time. It…

Christmas songs and the power of nostalgia

Bing Crosby's version of White Christmas is recognized as the best-selling single record ever

Christmas songs and the power of nostalgiaIt’s surely a personal quirk, but I must confess that the relatively modern Christmas songs, like All I Want for Christmas Is You and Fairytale of New York leave me cold. Yes, I know they’re critically acclaimed and immensely popular, not to mention enormous money-spinners. However, they don’t tickle my fancy at all. Perhaps it’s a…
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