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Arts & EventsRURAL RANT: Christmas in the Country

RURAL RANT: Christmas in the Country

RURAL RANT: Christmas in the Country

Have you ever looked at Christmas with a cynical eye? The commercialism, the overpackaging, the strident commercials and ads demanding that you can only make people happy by spending ridiculous amounts of money on stuff they don’t even really need?

Annette Moeller and granddaughter Julia Dube sell Annette’s crafts at the Cumberland Christmas Craft Market. (Photo credit: Candace Vetter)

Who hasn’t seen that Christmas (especially if you have young children) is another way to turn your hard-earned money into an orgy of consumerism? Walking around a busy mall or a big toy store can be a nauseating and frustrating experience. As for all the plastic junk that will end up in a landfill in the next few months or years—it is horrifying. And do little kids need hundreds of dollars worth of toys each year? Really?

Yet Christmas is responsible for about 70% of retail sales and provides the economy with a big seasonal boost. Do we feel guilty for shopping or feel guilty for not shopping? I like to combine Christmas shopping, get a real warm and fuzzy Christmas season experience, and enjoy a touch of nostalgia at the same time.

How? I go to Christmas events in the countryside. Small towns and villages all around Ottawa offer lots of family activities that combine shopping with traditional Christmas pleasures. In the last three weeks, I have been to Santa Claus parades, Christmas craft sales, and sing-a-longs, and I plan to attend at least one Christmas concert.

The Sunshine Singers lead a Christmas sing-a-long in Cumberland at the Lions’ Breakfast with Santa, which about 350 people attended. (Photo Credit: Candice Vetter)

Although many events are finished by now, including the parades and most of the craft markets, there are still a few quaint customs which can be enjoyed. You can cut your own tree at a Christmas tree farm—which, by the way, is the most environmentally friendly type of Christmas tree. You can go on a sleigh ride. Even without snow, horses wearing jingle bells pull a wheeled cart and there is nothing else that evokes Christmas like the music of jingle bells and the friendly smells of evergreens and horse breath.

A few concerts are coming up in rural communities. For example, in Marvelville, a former tiny community right on the boundary between Ottawa and Russell Township, the community club is hosting an old-fashioned Christmas concert and raffling off a beautiful quilt on December 21 (at 7 p.m.). The small old hall (a former schoolhouse) and the amateur participants will evoke memories of childhood Christmases.

Cumberland Village Museum has special Christmas events, as do Osgoode Township Museum in Vernon and other small museums surrounding the city. Not that there’s anything wrong with Christmas events in the city itself—but something about fresh country air, more trees than buildings, and a drive in the countryside is soothing to the soul.

It’s not every year that the roads remain good for driving this late in the season, so get out there and enjoy the rural heritage the Ottawa area is blessed with.

The Russell Village Santa Claus parade is a very popular event every year and is followed up by a visit with Santa and hot chocolate in the Russell Arena. (Photo Credit: Candice Vetter)

Children remember the trek through the snow, the stars on a winter’s night, the singing and sleighing and visits with Santa long after they’ve forgotten plastic, over-hyped toys made in China. So give your family memories this year and in the future. Have a very merry Christmas without blowing the bank.

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