Last minute tree trimming
Five kids, two adults, one spaniel and one hamster in a three-bedroom apartment -- being a navy family we grew used to close quarters and our parents' frugal ways. But at Christmastime they always made us feel like we were the luckiest kids in the world. I remember my father's tradition (at least he swore it was one) of buying the tree on Christmas Eve, usually close to closing time at the lots. The best part was seeing the look on Mum's face when he dragged in what can be generously termed as the bottom of the barrel. But we all knew that with some expert pruning and rearrangement of branches the end result was a perfectly symmetrical showpiece.
â€“ Robyn Quinn, Halifax
An early visit from Santa
It was Christmas Eve and I was about seven years old. I was helping to set the dining room table for the next day's feast. I made sure the best china was laid, the cutlery glistened and the crystal salt and pepper shakers were filled. On the wall opposite the dining room window my mother had hung a cutout of Santa and his team of reindeer. It was hung on an angle with the reindeer pulling Santa and his sleigh upward as if to a rooftop.
This is where the magic began for me. As I passed by the dining room window, the reflection of the cutout made it seem like Santa had arrived early and was directly outside our house! I had been told that Santa would not come until I was tucked away sound asleep. Let me tell you I never moved so fast as I did that Christmas Eve! I knew that if I was not in bed pronto that Santa would not stop at our house.
â€“ Johanna Beattie, Hudson, Que.
A soot-covered letter from Santa
My father, Jack, is one of the most Christmas-spirited people I have ever met. He always managed to make Christmas special for my sisters, Brianna and Bridget, and me. I remember Santa visiting our house, checking to make sure we were getting ready for bed on Christmas Eve. I didn't realize until years later that it was actually my father dressed up in a Santa suit running through waist-deep snow in our backyard. Another time I found a letter from Santa in our old fashioned fireplace in the basement. As I mulled over the soot-covered discovery, my father and I came to the conclusion that the only way it could have gotten there was that it had been delivered down the chimney by one of Santa's elves!
â€“ Mariah Yard, Timmins, Ont.
The magic reindeer food works
One year my son Andrew received a bag of magic reindeer food from his teacher. On Christmas Eve we sprinkled this outside for the reindeer. We woke up to a fresh layer of glistening snow outside. While we were admiring the beautiful blanket of snow, our boys, Nicholas and Andrew, cried out, "Look, I see Santa's sleigh tracks and the reindeer's footprints!" I took a closer look and on our front lawn (right at the place where we had sprinkled the magic reindeer food) there were sleigh tracks and reindeer prints.
I later learned that our neighbours across the street put on their skis and took their dog, Maggie, for a midnight walk on our lawn to make it look like Santa had landed there.
â€“ Cathrine Baldazzi, Oakville, Ont.
A little girl's wish for a doll
When I was five my family lived in a little shack in a small western Canadian town. We had a simple Christmas Eve dinner. I knew we didn't have much money and the presents were bound to be small. That year all the little Canadian girls wanted a Barbara Ann Scott doll. Barbara Ann had just won gold at the 1948 Olympics. I would never have the doll, but I looked at the page in the Eaton's catalogue until it was dog-eared and stained.
That night I was lying in bed thinking about all the wonderful things that would happen the next day. Suddenly I heard big heavy bells ringing right outside my window. I jumped up and tried to see out but the frost was too thick on the windows. The next morning I told my parents what had happened. My dad told me to put on my boots and coat and look at the yard. There, to my amazed eyes, were sleigh tracks and hoof marks down the middle, the length of the yard. When I opened my present from Santa Claus, I started to cry. There she was. The most beautiful Barbara Ann Scott doll ever. She was in a royal blue skating outfit and she came with a pair of shoes and a pair of figure skates.
â€“ Sandra Saive, Edmonton
A few good neighbours offer a gift of food
Our family had immigrated to Canada from Portugal in 1956. We began our new lives in Quebec and, even though we lived there for only one year, it was a Christmas I will never forget. We were poor and had few possessions. My sister and I were old enough to attend school. That Christmas there was a delivery for us of new school uniforms and other items of clothing for our family. Other neighbours gave us bushels of apples, bread, milk and so much food. We were so overwhelmed. Being a young girl of six, I could not believe my eyes and could not help but wonder why people were being so nice.
My father said to me that there are good people in the world and that God worked a miracle for our family that first Christmas in a new land.
â€“ Emeria Soares, Strathroy, Ont.
Sneaking home during the war
My mother used to tell this story on Christmas Eve. In December 1941 her two brothers were in the RCAF, about to be sent overseas. Just before Christmas they were in the Toronto area and asked their officer if they could go home for Christmas. He said, "I can only tell you your ship's not going until the 26th." So they went AWOL and made it home for Christmas Eve. My grandparents jumped every time there was a knock on the door, convinced it would be the military police looking for their sons. My grandfather kept covering their overcoats with blankets so that their badges wouldn't be seen through the window by snoopy passers-by. On Christmas Day, after the turkey and plum pudding, they went back to their quarters, but my grandparents didn't really exhale until they found out the punishment -- the brothers scrubbed a few extra floors on their journey to England.
â€“ Joanne McGarry, Toronto
Her first white Christmas
It was the wee hours of the morning, Christmas 1975. Born in Australia, I was looking forward to my first Canadian Christmas, my first snowfall, my first Christmas stocking and my first turkey dinner.
A typical six-year-old, I was up to inspect the tree shortly after my parents had gone to bed. The Christmas lights created a cosy glow in the dark living room. There were parcels of all shapes and sizes, and the stockings looked enticingly lumpy. I was making my way toward the mantel when a movement outside the window caught my eye.
Strolling across our lawn was Santa Claus! He was carrying a large sack that looked to be full of presents. He saw me there and waved, and I cautiously waved back. I watched him walk out of sight.
â€“ Alison Amratlal, North Vancouver
Christmas far from home
We had just moved to Victoria from Ontario, and it was going to be our first Christmas with no extended family. We had resigned ourselves to this rather lonely scenario when one of my husband's new coworkers invited us to join him and his family for Christmas Eve dinner at their house on Saturna Island. We immediately accepted.
What a magical day it turned out to be as we spent time discovering the island and then headed to their home for a dinner filled with love, joy and laughter. Later that evening we boarded the ferry for the return trip when the air was suddenly filled with snowflakes, which seldom happens here.
That moment, that whole day, will remain a magical holiday memory in our lives.
â€“ Lorna Archer-Quinn, Victoria
For more heartwarming stories, read 6 Canadian celebrities' magic holiday memories.