{Connected Christmas} Mama Alana

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Please tell us a little about yourself and your family. You can choose to include who makes up your family, the ages of your children, and whether you live in an urban or rural setting.

I am Alana Chernecki, teacher/designer and most importantly MOM to three beautiful girls, and wife to my partner-for-life, Chris. Our oldest, Anna, is 7 and is a fiercely independent and has been dressing herself {and clipping her own nails} since the age of 3. Emily, our middle child, is nearly 6 and is the artist of the family. An even-keeled, creative spirit who gets energy from creating for others. Mia, the 'baby', is now 4, and is the musical force behind our family, finding her groove and making her mark in every corner of our busy life.

Please tell us about your favourite holiday tradition, including how it came to be.

Every holiday season, we don our comfiest, coziest pajamas, grab our 'to-go' hot chocolates, pile into the minivan, and cruise our neighbourhood looking at the beautiful displays of Christmas lights. {our neighbours are known to create a little drama!}. We ooh, and aahh, blast the Christmas carols, sing together, and gaze at all the holiday-house bling.

We also host an annual family charity event on New Years Day- a 'Skate on the Creek' at our home in support of Winnipeg Harvest. Families enjoy an afternoon of skating, bonfire-roasted hot dogs with chilli, and roasted marshmallows for dessert, and bring non-perishables for our food bank collection. The event has grown from a few family and friends, to dozens of families, local neighbours and the community.

One of my favourite traditions for the girls that has become a tradition on the first day of every school break, is our traditional breakfast: pancakes with ice cream and sprinkles.

 

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What is the best present you have either given or received? What made it special?

I can't think of a specific gift I received. For me, the best gift we get each year, is each other. Being surrounded by the love of family and friends. We lived in Regina when our children were first born for four years, and although we had made many dear friends, it wasn't the same as holly-jolly-crazy family Christmas like we have now. To me, this is the most special and most meaningful gift. The traditions that we create as a family and the beautiful craziness that comes with being around big family.

Please share what you find a challenge or a struggle over the holidays.

Measuring up. Since having moved into our new home in Winnipeg a few years ago, I have taken on hosting Christmas Eve. I LOVE hosting, decorating, styling, cooking and preparing for guests, but with young kids, it DEFINITELY is a challenge.

I remember the feasts my grandmother and mother would prepare, and always think I need to do the same. They both had SO many dishes, all perfectly prepared and so tasty, and took time to make sure every detail was looked after. I remember old-fashioned party-favors at each place setting and beautiful, handwritten place cards. And I feel like as hard as I try, I can't do it all. And then I remind myself, that our kids don't NEED it all. They need their mom. Their family. And the care and effort THEIR mama puts in is all that matters. The details THEIR mom looks after- big OR small- are what counts. But most importantly, the time that their mom and dad spend with them- skating on the creek, playing board games, family tobogganing or having family movie + treat night- those are the important moments- the moments that make up life, that will become etched in their adult minds as those special 'childhood memories.'

 

 

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What is your favourite holiday memory?

As a child, we celebrated BOTH Ukrainian and English Christmas. One of the most special traditions that my parents {aka Santa} used to do- and now we have adopted as a family- was the Christmas Scavenger Hunt. Once my brother opened his very last gift under the tree, my Dad would call out 'Oh, look what I found'- holding up a note. The note was an invitation from Santa, to explore the house for one final gift. He left clues, each one leading to the next, until finally reaching the last destination: our 'big' gift (one year a toboggan, one year a new pair of skates, one year a dollhouse...) We now do the same for our girls, and it is so wonderful to see the looks of joy and anticipation on their faces.

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Please share any tips, tricks, or advice you have for other mamas, related to the holidays.

I love this little reminder, as I prepare for the gift-buying blitz I am about to embark on...

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I even have my girls make their Christmas lists to Santa, based on these four categories. I also love giving 'experiential gifts'- tickets to the theatre, gift certificates for a mother-daughter pedicure, or horse-riding lesson. Because, let's be real: our kids do not NEED more STUFF!

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