Christmas in Toronto, with all the folks from home

Peter Jackson
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I’m so excited this year to be over-Christmasing in the world-class Canadian metropolis of Toronto.

It will be magical.

First thing I want to do is check out the giant Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Centre.

Then we’ll climb Mount Royal and watch as they light up the Space Needle in a blaze of Christmas colours.

We will so enjoy walking along bustling streets … “city sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style” (the sidewalks, that is. I don’t dress up much).

In the air, there’ll be a feeling of Christmas — and a smell, too, a tantalizing aroma of cinnamon and icing sugar, with a just a hint of urine — oh, sorry, that last one was me. Don’t worry, no one was watching!

Can’t wait to drop in on Mayor Rob Ford, too.

He loves welcoming strangers to his home, especially journalists. Perhaps I’ll sneak around back and surprise him. He’ll get a good laugh out of that!

Actually, we’re going to Toronto to spend the holiday with my wife’s dear relatives. Part of the fun will be sharing our different traditions. Some people put their tree up early; others wait till Christmas Eve. Some drink eggnog; others prefer mulled wine.

I’m hoping my in-laws will be receptive to some of my own time-honoured rituals.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll discover a whole new way to celebrate the season.

For example, I hope we can have squid rings and pork hocks on Christmas Eve.

When I was younger, we’d spend the afternoon knocking back Jell-O shooters, then toss a batch of rings and hocks into the fat fryer.

One year, we dumped a few bags of sand on the floor and grabbed some beach towels and umbrellas. Nothing beats sitting around in swimsuits and sucking on caesars and cephalopods while the snowflakes swirl outside. Makes me feel warm and cuddly just thinking about it.

Around 2 a.m., we’d throw on our coats and go out carolling.

There was always a running challenge to see who could sing the loudest. We’d serenade each house, and if no one came to the door, we’d steal their Christmas lights. All in good fun.

And then, Christmas Day arrives!

We’d wake up in the afternoon and greet the Saviour’s birthday with a traditional full English, extra bacon, and a hair of the dog. Then there’s usually the annual Christmas belch-off.

By this point, someone would have let the kids out of the basement. They’d occupy themselves cutting shapes out of the tablecloth and pasting them on the wall with mayonnaise.

Mid-afternoon, we settle in for some light seasonal reading: Archie comics and maybe a chapter of “50 Shades of Grey.” Then comes the most special time of day: hove off on the couch watching claymation reindeer.

Later, we skip Christmas dinner and go out mummering.

To make it more authentic, we’d splash fish stock on our costumes first. (The hosts love it when you go to hug them!) And we make a point of breaking exactly one lamp in each house we visit. Fair is fair.

On Boxing Day, we stick to the traditional meaning of the day.

We put on boxing gloves and go a few rounds. First one to bleed has to do the dishes.

After that, we’ll usually loaf around in our underwear and drink beer. If “The Nutcracker” is on TV, we’ll turn the sound down and play “Dark Side of the Moon” on bust. If you time it right, the Sugar Plum Fairy starts dancing halfway through “Great Gig in the Sky.” Coincidence or what?

The next day, it’s the old burn-the-tree-on-the-front-lawn party. Always a good time. The best part is deciding whose lawn to burn it on.

Yep, Christmas this year will be one to treasure. It’s been a long time since we’ve been invited to spend it with out-of-town relatives.

Getting on 20 years now, I think.


Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s commentary editor. Email: He also hosts a daily live forum, Naked Lunch, on The Telegram’s main web page, 12:30 weekdays.

Organizations: Rockefeller Centre, Mount Royal

Geographic location: Toronto

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Recent comments

  • Tess
    December 18, 2013 - 15:51

    When did Rockefeller Centre get re-located to Toronto?

  • Joe
    December 18, 2013 - 07:47

    I thought Mount Royal was in Montreal and didn't they name the city Crack City.