RCP Home & Garden Tours highlights the beautiful spaces we are creating in north central Edmonton, and talks about the different ways we find value in this area from the perspective of our living spaces. Many of us are friendly, generous, and deeply invested in our homes and in the wellness of our community.

We showcase all kinds of living spaces, including single-family homes, townhouses, apartments, garden suites, live/work spaces, and small space and balcony gardens. We also would like to reflect the diversity of our residents and their families, including families with and without kids, couples and singles, all kinds of cultural backgrounds and abilities, 2SLGBTQIA+, young people, seniors, and more.

For this issue, we reached out to our local Facebook community groups and asked people to share photos of their holiday decorating and favourite winter traditions. Due to printing requirements, some photos will appear in print and online, and others will appear online only. Photos were lightly edited for consistency amongst the images. If you don’t see your home in print, try checking out ratcreek.org, where you’ll find this and earlier Home and Garden articles under the Features drop-down menu.

This is a year-round column. If you’re interested in sharing your home, or if you have or know of a garden with winter features, I’d love to know more. All submissions are welcome and encouraged! Submission email: [email protected] 

My holiday traditions

Being second-generation Canadian Filipino, where my parents immigrated to Canada in the ‘70s, I’m not as connected to my family’s cultural traditions as I’d like to be, but I’ve still inherited many ways to celebrate the holidays. The Philippines is the only predominantly Catholic country in Asia, and Christmas is one of the most important observances of the year.

My parents decorate a Christmas tree every year (even though the Philippines is a tropical country, many Filipinos decorate artificial pine or spruce trees in their homes and businesses). My Mom also likes to display her Christmas village collection—which is beloved by her apo (grandchildren in Filipino)–and she arranges a platter with 12 kinds of round fruit in anticipation of the New Year. For Christmas dinner, she always makes leche flan (a traditional custard dessert) and pansit (a noodle dish, said to encourage long life).

Recently, my Mom acquired a parol and she plans to hang it in her front window. A parol is an ornamental lantern, usually shaped like a star, and festooned with tassels and candles or multicoloured lights. Modern parols might be made from metal, plastic, paper, bamboo, or capiz shells.

My husband’s family, being German and Irish farmers and entrepreneurs from generations back, have many traditions. He grew up on a homestead outside of Peace River, in the middle of the forest, so some of his family traditions are older and inherited (mainly related to food), whereas others are more recent and came from life on the farm.

His family traditions include: the annual Christmas tree felling, where the entire family walks deep into the forest on their property to harvest their Christmas tree, followed by hot coffee and cocoa enjoyed outside in the woods. In past years, this tree was as tall as 12 to 15 feet, but as the family has spread out across the province, its proportions have become more modest. We all decorate the tree together about a week before Christmas while doing puzzles, eating homemade cookies and snacks (like butter horns and cottage cheese dumplings), watching movies, and enjoying the smell of a log fire in the cast iron stove.

I have a personal holiday ritual of choosing one older tradition for our family to celebrate, and trying something new as a potential future tradition. For the past few years, I’ve enjoyed mulling cider on the stove because it smells so delicious. I also love shopping at our local craft and artist markets for locally made gifts and art for our friends and family.

Here are ways our readers like to celebrate this time of year:

Rachael Robertson

My favourite Christmas traditions are playing board games and having a charcuterie spread for dinner on Christmas Eve, opening new Christmas pyjamas, and being too excited to sleep. Christmas Eve is the one night the tree gets to stay on all night long, for when little feet start making their way downstairs to see the magical glow. It’s truly the best. We always simmer homemade potpourri too, which is heavenly!

Melanie Spitzer 

Watching Christmas movies by tree light!

The Christmas tree makes their living room glow with warm light. | Melanie Spitzer

Christie Mawer

I’ve never felt that we had many traditions in my family when it comes to the holidays, except for food. We must have shortbread (the soft crumbly kind), which has become expected of me to provide. Homemade butter tarts and pumpkin pie are a must. One thing we make that is unique to our family is apple salad. It has a homemade salad dressing (secret family recipe), whipped cream, and walnuts. Sweet as a dessert and very popular eaten with the big old bird. 

Jyening McLaren Rose

We love Christmas in our house and make our house super cozy and winter bright inside. Every year we do seven days of Christmas, where everyday we get to do something super fun and then bless someone. I have two daughters and I give them a certain amount of money and they can choose to either use it all to bless one person, bless many people throughout the seven days, or bless many people in one day. It’s their choice how they want to do it. 

Also as a Caribbean, for breakfast every year (either Christmas Day or Boxing Day) we’ll have fried bake and saltfish. Another big tradition is playing parang music the whole day, and really the weeks leading up to Christmas. Parang is traditional Trinidadian music.

Other neighbours