WHEN CHRISTMAS WAS SIGHTED — SIX HOLIDAY MEMORIES FROM THE TIME BEFORE I WAS BLIND

As Christmas approaches and the world descends into a frenzy of holiday activity, I take a walk down memory lane, and reflect on the six Christmasses with my family before I became blind. I don’t remember many of them as I was so young, but there are bits and pieces that I recall which form the fondest of memories and the warmest of feelings. And I want to share them with you.

Here are six special childhood memories that I will always hold close to my heart and take with me as I celebrate this and many more Christmas seasons to come.

I. Frosty in Footprints

One winter while my grandparents were visiting, Grandpa and I were playing in the backyard, when Grandpa said “follow me.” He began walking in odd patterns, shuffling his feet in the snow. I followed where he put his feet, and was entirely confused. After he was finished, we went inside and he lead me to the kitchen window which overlooked the backyard. There, in the snow, was the word “Frosty” which had been written out by our footprints.

II. The Snow Mountain

Every year, our side yard became home to the snow mountain. When the handyman came around with his bobcat, he shoveled the snow into a hill and carved out small steps in the side. And every year, my siblings and I spent hours running up the snow mountain and sliding down just as fast as we could!

III. Home from the Hospital… Just in Time

I was fortunate that, for the first year I was battling my cancer, I was able to spend Christmas at home with my family. But it was a close call. I was released on Christmas Eve, and when I walked in the front door, my entire family was waiting for me–my grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins on my mom’s side were there! It was so sweet, being surrounded by family for the holidays. I remember some, but I’m sure not all, of the mischief me and my cousins got into, and as the youngest cousin, I’m sure I got out of all the trouble, too.

IV. The Christmas Eve Tradition

For most people I know, Christmas morning is the pinnacle of the holidays. It’s when stockings are opened along with the presents piled up beneath the tree. For me, it’s opposite: Christmas Eve was the night I awaited with such excitement, and continues to since I’ve brought its tradition into my adulthood.

My family attended the Christmas Eve service at church where we would sing carols, read the story of Jesus’ birth and light candles. Once home, we’d change into pajamas and open every present… almost. Except for our stockings and the gift from Mom and Dad, every other present was torn open and squealed over. Then came the movie, which as tradition dictated, was the classic, Miracle on 34th Street. To this day, I have most of that movie memorized!

V. Into the Wilderness!

The first Saturday of December was the most exciting day–it’s when we got bundled up and headed out into the woods to cut down a Christmas tree! My memories are made up of trudging through the snow, picking out the perfect tree, Dad cutting it down with a saw and dragging it back to the car, and me, exhausted from the day’s events, insisting on being pulled home on the sled. On Sunday after church, we’d decorate it, and my favourite ornaments to hang were always the musical instruments.

VI. The Reindeer

Dad was a forester for 30 years, and as a gift from a coworker one year, he received a uniquely “foresty” gift–a reindeer made of tree trunks and branches! It has survived many a move and still stands proud, albeit a bit wobbly, in my parents’ living room.

Christmas, both when I was sighted and now that I am blind, holds a special place in my heart. There are parts of the season I wish I could see still, but I’ve gained a new appreciation for the holiday as a blind woman. After all, it’s still a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, and that is something I can celebrate with or without sight.

What do you remember about Christmas and the holiday season when you were a child? Let me know in the comments.

I GOT MARRIED! HERE ARE SIX UNEXPECTED AND WONDERFUL THINGS THAT HAPPENED AT OUR WEDDING

I’m BAAACK!

And I’m MARRIED!

It already feels like so long ago, but in actuality, is still only days ago. Anyone else feel this way after their wedding? But in all the planning that went into our special day, it’s nice to sit down and reflect, and I wanted to share some of those reflections with you.

Weddings are a time to celebrate a couple’s love and commitment and the people that got them there, but it can also be a day of (mostly) organized chaos. But with the right people and the right outlook, it can still be beautiful and wonderful and everything you dreamed it would be.

Mine certainly was. Here are six things that happened that made it uniquely ours and totally wonderful.

I. We Changed Locations The Day Before

Third time’s the charm, right? My husband and I were engaged for six months and we had laid claim to our dream venue within the first week. But, sparing you all the back-and-forths, we had to give it up due to our provincial Covid-19 restrictions. So, we changed to an outdoor location, choosing to say our I dos on the lakefront. We knew a mid-April wedding might be cold, or raining, even snowing, but we had no choice.

Except we did.

During the rehearsal at the lake, my fiancé and I were shivering like two baby chihuahuas; it was shaded, windy, and the next day wouldn’t be much better. My Aunt, who officiated the ceremony, pulled us aside and gave us the permission that we weren’t able to give ourselves: we could move locations, and it was OKAY.

But where would we go? Well, both my fiancé and I, my Aunt, and my dad, had all thought to ourselves the previous evening that the AirBnb my parents had rented for my mother’s side of the family would be perfect. It had a large basement where my fiancé could get ready, the upstairs where I could get ready with my parents and my Aunties, and a deck where we could be married in the sunshine (and out of the wind).

So 24 hours before the wedding, we changed our venue … for the third time … And it was perfect. It was so much better than we’d dreamed; yes, it was easier in the practical sense, but emotionally, it gave my fiancé and I that ahhhh… just right feeling that we’d been hoping to have on our wedding day since we got engaged. And it made all the difference for us.

II. My Dress, Uh, Had A Malfunction

As I nervously texted a friend of mine in the days leading up to the wedding, she said that something will not go as planned but that all I needed to do was enjoy it [and that my family/wedding party would handle the rest]. I found that comforting, because yes, something did not go as planned, but her words helped me not to see it as a failure but simply part of the memories.

I was giving my parents hugs before taking my soon-to-be-husband’s arm to walk to the front. I leaned forward to wrap my arms around my mom, and POP! We burst out laughing. The clasp at the back of my dress had busted. The zipper was still intact, but as I discovered later, it isn’t that the clasp just unhooked, but vanished completely. But that wasn’t the last of it. As we made our rounds for goodbye hugs before heading off for our honeymoon, I leaned down to hug my grandma, and POOF! My left strap ripped loose from its front holding. Good thing I had my shawl on!

I laugh about it now, and you know what, I was laughing then, too. Some brides’ worst fear might be a wardrobe malfunction, but to me, it wasn’t worth the stress. I was with my family and friends. I was getting married. And in the last moment with my parents before heading up to stand with my husband, I was a nervous wreck, but the moment of laughter released all the stress. It wasn’t about timing the music for my walk down the aisle anymore. It wasn’t a performance. It was life, and a moment in life shared with people I love. And you know what? Sometimes, life is funny.

III. The Person I’m So Thankful I Invited, But Almost Didn’t

I won’t divulge the details here, but sufficed to say that there is a member of my family that I’ve had a rocky relationship with for several years now. When things first fell apart, I decided that I would not invite them to my wedding—I wanted to enjoy my day and not be focused on the hurt that I felt.

But as soon as my fiancé and I started writing the guest list, I had to make a choice, once and for all. My daddy, who’s always been good at walking me through difficult decisions, said something that stuck with me and made all the difference. He said: “If you don’t invite them to your wedding, it will make building a relationship with them later much harder.”

He was right.

So I sent them an invitation.

And when the wedding day came, I was so overcome with gratitude and love and such joy that they were there. Our hug was our first hug in years, and contrary to all my fears, their presence didn’t detract from my marriage celebration—it enhanced it.

IV. I Giggled All Through The Ceremony

During the reception, I was told many a time by my friends and family that they’d never seen a bride giggle so much. At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of this remark, but when I asked one friend, they reassured me that it was a good thing.

The joy was bubbling out of me and everyone watching could feel that joy.

I worried that my giggles would be construed as nervousness, and sure, there were some wedding jitters that day, but my giggles were of pure happiness and joy. I giggled when my dress clasp broke. I giggled when we all started crying because my sister-in-law had dubbed it a “sob fest” even at the rehearsal. I giggled while crying through my vows.

All because I was so filled with joy at marrying the love of my life, and believing firmly in what God had started in the two of us.

I’ve always been a smiley, giggly girl, and I didn’t want my giggles to come across as childish or young. But whether they did or not, I’ve decided not to stress about. My giggles were just me, and an outpouring of love and joy. There’s nothing to worry about with that!

V. We Opened Gifts With Our Family

A wedding signifies only the beginning of a life together. My husband and I would have our honeymoon and years after that to be together, but we wouldn’t always have family—particularly our family from far away. They came for one weekend to celebrate with us, so the least we could do is give them our time in return.

After our friends had left and only family remained, we gathered in the living room of the AirBNB to open gifts and cards that our guests had brought. While it may not seem like much, it meant so much to both my husband and I, and I’m hopeful, for those that were with us then, too. It was a way to relax, to unwind, and to say thank you for taking the time to come to our wedding. There was no reason to rush away as fast as possible—the honeymoon would still be there, but our family wouldn’t be. And as our families mean so much to us and have played such significant roles in our lives leading up to this day [and will continue to in the future], we wanted to spend time with them.

We didn’t want the wedding day to focus only on my husband and I. We weren’t the only ones there who mattered. And spending time with them after the festivity had calmed and we could relax, joke, take pictures and just chill, is such a wonderful memory from that day that I know I’ll take forward with me and cherish when I look back.

VI. The Focus Was On The Marriage, Not The Wedding

And, in everything that happened that day, I am so blessed that my wedding day wasn’t simply a production or a timeline of events.

My wedding day represented the covenant that my husband and I made before God. It wasn’t the final destination or an ending, but a beginning. Throughout the celebration, I was so thankful that the focus of the day was kept on what was to come and the lifelong marriage that had just been committed. It wasn’t about dresses or charcuterie boards or photos. It was about much more than that, and when the details of the wedding day have been lost to memory, the meaning of the marriage will last.


Just because my wedding is over and my husband and I are settling into married life and figuring out what our normal will be, doesn’t mean that I’m out of wedding mode.

So please, tell me about your wedding in the comments! I want to hear something that made your wedding uniquely you!