Christmas traditions are a very important part of the holidays for two longstanding Whistler families, the Stroshins and the MacLaurins.
In 1967, Don and Izzy MacLaurin had their first Whistler Christmas in their cabin with their children and terriers. They made their winter celebration jolly for their children by dressing up, skating on their homemade rink on Alpha Lake and staying warm around their good cheer stove.
They decorated their home inside and out and skated on their homemade ice rink. For several nights, they sang Christmas Carols with the Whistler Singers around the village. On Christmas Eve the treat was hearing Don read A Night Before Christmas and having their children write Christmas letters to Santa on Christmas Eve, knowing that an elf would get it on time for Christmas Day.
When the MacLaurin's made Whistler their full-time home 25 years ago, the traditions continued. Attending midnight Christmas Mass was important to Izzy, as was having friends over and giving them freshly baked Scotch bread. They also loved seeing the mountain lifties' expression as they dropped them off their annual Boxing Day candy treats.
A classic Izzy trademark are her Chocolate chip Cookie houses, something that she's taught to her children and to the local schools. Their children continue to teach the children at their local schools, both in Oliver and in Australia, keeping the family tradition strong.
Every year Don decorates an outdoor tree with blue lights, just like his father did. Their homemade Christmas cards were also a hit with their friends. One friend many years later brought over 25 years of unique cards, including one with the family in a frozen row boat, another with a child's head sticking out of a box and another with the family's heads stacked like a totem pole.
Since 1983 Lyn and Alex Stroshin have made their Christmases bright with a skate on the lake or some alpine skiing, followed by a bonfire on the beach shore and hot chocolate. Full-time residents for 15 years, the Stroshin's start their annual tradition by finding their own pine Christmas tree, sometimes 15-feet high, and getting the biggest turkey they can find.
Their house is full with up to 26 people for dinner and the table often extends into the living area. Guests are old friends, family and perhaps someone new to Whistler — someone invited on the lift, or maybe a Rotary Youth Exchange student. Lyn's only caveat is that she wants to know how many people are coming so she can make sure that there are enough seats and that each dinner plate is set with a Christmas cracker.
Before dinner, each guest is asked to contribute what he or she is grateful for. This tradition is important to the Stroshins and it reminds them of what Christmas is to them.
One recent Christmas, the Stroshin's had a Brazilian exchange student and his brother come on their first visit to Canada. It was their first time seeing snow. That Christmas Eve it dumped and they had fun watching them make snow angels and experience something new.
The fun doesn't end on Christmas Day but continues for both families throughout the holiday. For Alex and Lyn this includes New Year's Eve party on the ice. They start by blowing out candles to let go of the past and they ring in the New Year with fresh candles and fireworks.
Did You Know? Save the date! The second annual Town Hall meeting for the 50+ crowd is set for Monday, Jan. 13 at 6:30 p.m. This event is hosted by the Mature Action Community (MAC) and Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS). Details to follow.
Maria Schwarz (MA, BScN) is a freelance writer with a focus on senior issues and aging well. Currently she is a contributing writer to Silver Linings.