Christmas is my favourite time of year. Piles of snow, twinkling lights, colourful decorations and a festive nature that permeates every aspect of Canadian culture.
Unfortunately, I haven’t spent many Christmases at home in the last 7 years. I’ve been away for 5 of those and it just hasn’t been the same.
So this year, I chose to stay home instead of travelling. And I decided to make it the Christmas where I do “all of the things.”
I wrote myself out a list and planned a calendar to make it all happen.
Here are my top Christmas-related adventures, activities and foods I wanted to enjoy this holiday season.
(In no particular order)
1. Watch Christmas Movies
I didn’t realize how little I remembered of Home Alone until I watched it again. So I made a list of all the classic Christmas movies I grew up watching (and a few new ones). Then I planned to watch them over the month of December. If you’re curious as to what made the list, here are my top 11 movies:
1. Love Actually
2. Home Alone
3. The Santa Clause
4. The Holiday
5. Four Christmases
6. The Night Before
7. Die Hard
8. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
9. Jingle All the Way
10. The Family Stone
2. Bake a Tourtiere
I was researching for another article and came across a French Christmas tradition I had never heard of. A Tourtiere is a meat pie dish hailing from Quebec. This past weekend I bought all the ingredients to make one. I admit I did less of the preparing and baking and more drinking eggnog lattes, chatting and making the Christmas cutouts for on top of the pie.
3. Catch the CP Holiday Train
Every year the CP Holiday Train rolls through Saskatoon. Despite being -16 outside, I parked across the river and walked across the Train Bridge to catch performances by Colin James and Emma-Lee.
4. Drive through the Enchanted Forest
Happiness is a box of Toffifee chocolates and cruising through the Enchanted Forest with friends to admire all the lights. We finished a festive night out by watching a Christmas movie in front of the fireplace.
5. Go on a Sparkle Tour
Anything sparkly catches my eye. And nothing makes me feel cozier inside than the happy, twinkling lights people decorate their homes with during the holidays outside. I appreciate the time, cost and effort so many put into their decorations. Every year I’m at home, I pick up a Christmas latte and cruise through the neighbourhoods, admiring all the wonderful lights. Check out the Sparkle Tour website and the Star Phoenix for places to visit in Saskatoon.
6. Skate at Boffins and/or the Cameco-Meewasin Rink
Due to warmer-than-usual weather, I still have yet to don my skates and get on the ice. The Cameco-Meewasin Skating rink looks like it’s straight out of a movie. With the glamorous Bessborough to the west and the river to the east, the only thing missing this year is the snow. Having just opened on December 16th, I plan to go for a skate before the end of the month.
7. Winter Camp
Many have been surprised when I mention that I’ve gone winter camping a few times already this year. But it’s as easy as summer camping – but with less mosquitoes and more clothing. This month I headed out on two adventures. One to Blue Mountain Adventure Park and another weekend spent at Birch Bay in Prince Albert National Park.
8. Chop down my very own Christmas Tree
Prince Albert National Park allows visitors to chop down their very own Christmas tree from within the park firebreak that protects the town of Waskesiu. All you need is a park pass and a free permit (and of course an axe or hatchet). I also recommend some hot chocolate in a thermos once the tree is loaded up on top of your vehicle. I chose a smaller tree as it’s easier to manage and fits perfectly inside my apartment.
9. Decorate my first Christmas Tree
Although I grew up decorating a Christmas tree with my family, I’ve never put a tree up in my own home here in the city. After chopping a live tree down in PANP, I decided to decorate it and make my home feel a little more festive.
10. Drink Egg Nog
While travelling abroad over the holiday season I craved this thick, creamy drink. This year I managed to pick up a small jug of it on sale for only $1. To make it last longer, I’ve mixed it with milk and coffee to make my own homemade latte to enjoy on the weekends.
11. Bake Sugar Cookies
I admit, I thought I would be much better at decorating sugar cookies than I was. I spent all afternoon picking the right sparkles, sprinkles and toppings. I even baked a double batch because three dozen didn’t seem like enough. Then I spent all night (till almost 2 a.m.) listening to Christmas carols while I sloppily painted my sugar cookies. By the time I finished snacking on the dough and iced cookies, I think there were only five dozen left to share and a mess of icing all around the kitchen.
12. Go Cross Country Skiing
It’s become a bit of an obsession this winter and a replacement for biking and running. Cross-country skiing is my favourite winter activity because it’s a great workout and the perfect excuse to get outside in the cold weather. So far I’ve logged over 100 kilometres on the trails. I’m currently waiting for it to start snowing again (and stop melting) so I can get back out and enjoy the winter weather.
13. Spend time with Family and Friends
14. Play Christmas Carols on Repeat
Yes, I am that person. I have multiple playlists of my favourite Christmas carols. I play them on repeat when cross-country skiing, baking, getting ready in the morning or just hanging around and working.
15. Attend a Live Play
I love live theatre. But I often don’t get tickets because I’m focused on budgeting for travel. This year, my brother asked if I would go to the Persephone Theatre with him to catch their performance of Treasure Island. An activity we like to do together in the past, I couldn’t say no. The play was well done and the set for it was very impressive.
16. Read an Entire Book
This seems like an odd item to add to a Christmas list. But I’ve always been one to devour books – particularly over the holidays during my leisure time. Sadly, I’ve gotten away from reading since smartphones and social media have entered my life. This year, I’d like to devote time this month to reading an entire paperback. Curious which book I’ve selected? It’s Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson.
17. Go Christmas Shopping
I love to shop. I also admit I love that malls have extended hours, play Christmas carols non-stop and have lovely decorations. Everyone always wishes you a Merry Christmas when you purchase something too. It doesn’t get more festive than that.
18. Play in the Snow
Do I even need to say anymore?
19. Cozy up in front of the Fire
20. Walk Along the River with a Hot Chocolate
Although the last on my list, this was the first winter activity I did when it started to snow this year. I grabbed a hot chocolate, parked just off the U of S campus and headed for a short walk along the river. It was cold but the light dusting of snow was the perfect setting to inspire a Christmas to-do list.