Family life

Feeling nostalgic for my childhood Christmases

Editor-in-chief Karine Ewart writes a holiday-themed letter to her childhood self.

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Christmas 1974: (from left) Gero, Amanda, Inga, me, Vanessa and my mum, Peggy. My papi, Manfred, was an amateur photographer. Photo courtesy of Karine Ewart

Dear Pouty Little Girl,

This photo was taken December 24, 1974, when you were three-and-a-half years old. You didn’t know it then, but your parents would be getting a divorce within the year, and your world as you and your siblings knew it was going to change drastically. The good news is, you have a selective memory and only look back fondly. All the credit should go to Mum and Papi, who always did their best to make sure our lives were filled with tons of love, warmth and laughter, especially during the holidays.

Christmas traditions were plentiful, even if truck-loads of gifts were not. But you learned that more doesn’t necessarily mean better, which is something you’ve taught your four kids. (Yep, four; you learned early that a big family is fun. Lucky for you, your future husband, Jay, agreed.) As for other childhood traditions — there are still chocolate Advent calendars, Saint Nicholas’s arrival on December 6, new outfits for all (not handmade like the one’s from Mum), Grandma’s special braided wreath bread for Christmas Day breakfast (I may have bought a loaf from the bakery once or twice) and unlimited cookies, squares and other treats (you guessed it — also not always homemade).

Read more: Holiday gifts for kids: Our top picks >

Your kids don’t realize how important these customs are yet, just like you didn’t when you were their age. You couldn’t possibly have known how parents everywhere use their holidays as a way to show their unconditional love for their children, and to create lasting memories for them to cherish forever and hopefully pass on to their kids. You also couldn’t have known how many parents shed tears because they can’t afford to do everything they wish they could for their families. To you, the holidays are a time to eat treats, unwrap gifts and play games with your siblings and cousins — not to mention, pout when you don’t want to get dressed up and have your family portrait taken in front of the ol’ Tannenbaum. And that’s exactly the way it should be.

Love,

Your Older and Much Less Camera-Shy Self

P.S. Your daughter’s birthday is December 15 and your twin boys’ birthday is January 11, so the holidays are busier than you could imagine. This year we discovered echoage.com to help organize the parties and support charity. (You turned out to be a pretty resourceful mom!)

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