In my element
When I was growing up in Canada (specifically Eastern Ontario), you were almost guaranteed a white Christmas. It made one of the best times of the year, that more magical. The snow would slowly drift down from the sky, muffling the sounds of the city, and blanketing the earth with thick fluffy slabs of white. To kids, snow is an unlimited and welcomed playground; to adults, it's a nuisance (not to me though!)
Can't figure out if this is me or my brother on our cousin's kid ski-doo
Yes, kid ski-doos are a real thing
In the lead up to Christmas, our school would organise an all-school assembly where we sang Christmas songs together and our homeroom class would make homemade Christmas decorations. We didn't have nativity plays - something I still find a bit strange to this day. You see, when it comes to Christmas in Canada, it is decidedly inclusive; we are careful to say "holidays" and are overly aware that not everyone celebrates it. And that's great; it is very Canadian. So growing up, we didn't have nativity plays (and why would we? It was a non-denominational school) but rather we learned about how other countries celebrate Christmas.
And so, one of the many things I love about Scotland (and the UK as a whole) is how INTO Christmas everyone is. People are unabashedly into Christmas - from Christmas "Number Ones" to Christmas parties; it's a lovely time of the year. You're encouraged to take time off, spend it with friends and family and of course, over indulge in all the good things like food and alcohol. Although I do miss eggnog - I promise it's not as gross as it sounds.
In a lot of ways, Christmas in Canada is similar to the UK but there are, of course, variances. For example, in Quebec (and again, it can vary between francophones, anglophones, Catholics, etc) a lot of people have their huge Christmas feast on Christmas Eve, attend midnight mass and then open presents. Our variance, when I was younger, was being allowed to open one gift ONLY on Christmas Eve. Obviously there were already gifts under the tree from our Mom until Santa arrived that night. And that's what made it so amazing and magical to me when I was younger: presuming I had been a good kid that year, a strange man would magically swoosh down our chimney and leave presents for me!? It really blew my mind. Trying to sleep on Christmas Eve was a Herculean task; "would Santa be coming? Where is he?!!!!!" Eventually I would manage, only to rise at 6.00am, wake my brother and rush downstairs to inspect the results. More often than not, The Sound of Music would be on TV, which my brother and I would watch whilst pouring over our wrapped gifts from Santa, waiting for our Mom to come downstairs.
Growing older, a little bit of that magic wears away and although you never tire of giving and receiving thoughtful gifts, it's just not the same, is it? (Although when we in our teens, my brother and I did receive matching GT Snowracers, which was pretty cool, and still amazes me we never suffered brain damage from them). Which is why Christmas in the UK is so great; sure you don't have snow but you do have unbridled celebrations, amazing Christmas treats and mince pies (no, mince pies are not a thing in Canada- no country is perfect).
So, where ever you are, however you celebrate it: Merry Christmas from us at LAKE&LOCH!