I’ve just finished making a grocery list for the holidays. All the girls are coming home and we love doing some of the cooking and baking together. There are many moving parts to our family holiday eating, Aubrey Rose’s wishes are chocolate and Christmas cookies, Olivia loves pie, Grace loves all things cheese, Carlyle makes the drinks with eggnog and rum and mulled wine always our favorites. Shawn keeps the fires going. As tastes evolve with age, so does our menu.
This year I thought I would be organized and started a Google Doc that we could share for things to do, food to make, activities and crafts, gift ideas. Annoyingly, no one used it except me. So I went back to pen and paper, making lists and then more lists.
We have a number of traditions, most of them started at the farm when we moved here 12 years ago. For example, there is the Walking of the Goats (not to be confused with my hometown’s – Brattleboro Vermont – tradition of Walking with the Herefords). This involves going for a walk with all our dogs, the goats and sometimes the cat on Christmas Eve. One of the girls reads a short story – not just any but one of Stuart Maclean’s. Even though I am listening to one of my daughters read the story, I hear his voice clearly. Tie it all together with choral music.
My German roots are deeply part of my own Christmas celebrations. We always had some sort light supper consisting of cold smoked fish, black bread and cheese, maybe cold meats. When the girls were younger, I added tourtière to the festivities which my Grandmother with her French-Canadian roots talked about but was not part of my Dad’s childhood but an Irish meat pie was. Being a relative newcomer to Canada, I decided that I would start that tradition for our family. I love it and include it on our table every year along with our own pickles and relishes; they are the perfect accompaniment to the holiday tourtière.
The holidays aren’t always a happy occasion and they are celebrated differently by everyone. No matter the circumstances, I believe that we are all connected to each other and have much to learn from many diverse traditions. I value this time of year to not only reflect on the past but also to stop and appreciate all that surrounds me from my loved ones, my team, this farm and everything we have created. However you celebrate and whatever tradition is yours, enjoy and take a moment to simply enjoy the quiet and appreciate your own journey.
About Danielle French
I founded South Pond Farms in 2008. The property is on the Oak Ridges Moraine in the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe Mississauga. South Pond started as a small food delivery business making fresh prepared meals from ingredients in my garden. Together with my family, we restored the barn, the iconic heritage silo and the land to become a destination for authentic culinary experiences, weddings, celebrations, workshops. Inspired from the farm, I also create a line of culinary products and gifts.
In 2021, I was ready to move away from the farm. As much as I loved the land and the country, it was time to let someone else bring their passion to what we had created. My new home is in Peterborough, Ontario where I’m taking some time to write, contemplate next steps, train my dogs, blog about recipes and interesting explorations and unpack!