September 24th, 2020

To Your Health: Traditions make Christmas special

By GILLIAN SLADE on December 23, 2019.

What makes Christmas special for each family is often the traditions they hold dear – the things they do that are unique to Christmas.

It could be the food and when it is enjoyed or what is done together as a family.

Having grown up in the southern hemisphere, the traditions from my childhood are very different to the ones I enjoy now.

It is summer in South Africa at this time of year. Along with hot weather Christmas may include a barbecue, a picnic and a swim in the ocean.

I remember as a little child observing all the Christmas cards hanging from the picture rails and asking my mother why there were so many snowy scenes. I had no frame of reference. At that point in my life I’d never even seen snow.

As circumstances change in life, perhaps with the loss of a loved one, a Christmas tradition may be very different and that can be tough emotionally.

It may be time for a new tradition.

Remember the old tradition you enjoyed with your loved one but create a new one this year.

The beauty of traditions is that they do not have to be expensive and they do not have to include others. It can be your very own.

It can be a simple as 10 p.m. ritual on Christmas Eve. You sit down with a ginger ale but to make it special you include a piece of fruit in a pretty glass only used for special occasions. You tune in to a favourite radio station or play a favourite CD with music that makes your heart sing.

If you are feeling lonely it sometimes helps to think about others rather than your own circumstances. Perhaps you could start a tradition of phoning three friends to tell them you are thinking of them and wishing them well. You could make that a few text messages or emails if you like.

Do you know of someone who is spending Christmas alone? Write a special card you can place at their front door, or telephone them if you have that contact information. Reaching out to someone else can fill your heart with joy.

Here’s wishing you a beautiful Christmas and here’s To Your Health.

To Your Health is a weekly column by Gillian Slade, health reporter for the News, bringing you news on health issues and research from around the world. You can reach her at or 403-528-8635.

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