{Connected Christmas} Mama Mel


Please tell us a little about yourself and your family.

I am Melanie, Mama to a boy and a girl, eleven year-old {G} and eight year-old {S}. We also have a fur daughter Gemma, who is the sweetest, kindest four-legged creature on the planet. Together with my husband Paul, we have rural roots but currently live in Winnipeg.

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

My favourite holiday tradition... This would be our Advent House. This is in part because it brings back memories of my first Christmas as a mama, and also because it was our first new tradition as parents. The Advent House came to be because my son was diagnosed with severe food allergies as an infant. I love baking, love all food associated with the holidays, and grew up with many family traditions surrounding Christmas. This included eating those chocolate advent calendars you find on sale at every store checkout this time of year. I grieved a lot over my son's food allergies in the beginning, one of which was a severe, epi-pen on-the-ready, allergy to dairy. This particular allergy meant some big adjustments. It also meant that as long as {G} had the allergy, he would never be able to have one of those chocolate advent calendars. It seems small, but it was one more thing on top of many. Before that first Christmas, and long before he would have eaten a chocolate advent calendar anyway, I was perusing the Pottery Barn Kids website. I came across something that gave me hope- an ADVENT HOUSE! I had never seen one before. It was a little house, with doors that allowed you to fill the house with whatever you wanted (things like dairy-free, nut-free treats), and it came personalized with your family NAME on it! I was over the moon. This was going to be the answer to all of my problems. The thing that gave me a new tradition, the thing that made my kid not-so-different. But how to get it to Canada? My sweet, patient husband was on his way to a conference in the U.S. shortly after, so I Express Posted it to the hotel he would be staying at, where they agreed to hold it for him. I had no idea how big the box was. Hearing Paul's story of lugging this giant thing to the airport, through security, trying to explain to customs what it was, is a story that is now part of our family. It is difficult to imagine Christmas without our Advent House, with a new treat, Christmas joke, or clue to a scavenger hunt hiding behind each little door. Want to share some of our favourite Christmas jokes with your family? Click the link at the end of the post for your own printable copy.

What is your favourite holiday memory?

I have a memory of coming home from my Aunt's house on Christmas Eve as a kid. On the drive home, I remember listening to the NORAD Santa Tracker on the radio. They were broadcasting where Santa had already been that night, and when they expected his arrival in Canada. I remember looking out the car window up at the stars, marvelling at the magic of it all, and just being truly, from the bottom-of-my-heart, happy. I also remember making Vinarterta with my Grandma. Just smelling it now feels like a warm hug from the past.

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

The best present I ever received... It was the Christmas of the Cabbage Patch craze. They were impossible to find ANYWHERE. They had been sold out since sometime in October I think. But bless my poor mama’s heart, I went and put one on my Christmas list. I've heard the story about how she searched and searched, and had friends traveling to the US looking there, and there was just not a Cabbage Patch doll to be found. Although the tree was doll-less that year, there was a day in the middle of January when I went out to the garage, and there, sitting on the doorstep, was a Cabbage Patch doll smiling up at me through the cellophane window of that long-coveted packaging. It was such a surprise, to get this gift when no gift was expected. I still remember that feeling! The best gift I ever gave... it was probably the year that I poured my heart and soul into a Christmas morning scavenger hunt for my two little sisters. I was about 10, which would make them 5 and 3. I remember hand-making doll clothes for their dolls and purchasing special little trinkets from our local craft sale, and wrapping each gift up individually. There was a trail of little gifts from their bedroom leading to the Christmas tree. I spent hours on that Christmas surprise!

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

I find it a challenge not to turn into a crazed party-hosting monster, running around with a dust buster in my hand and yelling at the kids to pick up every little thing they have left lying around the house. Truly, the struggle is real. Sometimes I worry my kids will only remember the stressed-out, pre-party mama! I am trying to work on that. Or at least to not pull out the dust buster again until after the company leaves 😉


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

My holiday tips... the first is to set an intention for the holiday season. Whether your goal is connection, staying within a budget, or slowing things down, keep your intention in your mind and heart. When new invitations or opportunities arise, ask yourself if doing that particular thing would help you achieve your intention. If the answer is no, bump it down in priority or decline it all together and let go of the guilt. The second; if you give the kiddos new Christmas PJs, consider giving them on December 1st. That way they'll have them to wear the whole season through. The third... it's okay if you’re an Elf on the Shelf mama, and it’s okay if you’re not. It really is. It is awesome to have an elf take a marshmallow bubble bath in your kitchen sink. It’s also okay if you tell your child that your family can’t have an Elf on the Shelf ‘cause you’re worried you’ll get the evil one and you won’t be able to return it. We all know our own limits!

If there is anything else you would like to share about your family, how you celebrate the holidays, or how you stay connected, please include it here.

I wish you so much peace and joy this holiday season. I wish this time of year that I could wrap everyone up in a big blanket of love. More than anything, I just want the world to feel loved. Have a wonderful holiday season!

xo- Mel

Here are some of our favourite holiday jokes! Great for advent calendars or lunch boxes.

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