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Christmas traditions from North Shore public figures

Cpl. Richard De Jong, media relations officer, North Vancouver RCMP: “Growing up, our family Christmas traditions were many. My favourite memories were going to the Christmas Eve church service and coming home to make Dutch ‘Ollie-Bollen.

Cpl. Richard De Jong, media relations officer, North Vancouver RCMP:

“Growing up, our family Christmas traditions were many. My favourite memories were going to the Christmas Eve church service and coming home to make Dutch ‘Ollie-Bollen.’ These are the most delicious type of deep-fried donut that has raisins, apples, and currants that you will ever eat. It is impossible to eat only one or two of them! To this day I keep up that tradition and look forward to it every year.”

Mayor Mary-Ann Booth, District of West Vancouver:

“One of our favourites is doing a Christmas-themed jigsaw puzzle as a family each year. I always buy a 1000-piece one by Ravensburger, which produces beautiful reproductions of Christmas paintings. I set the pieces out in our living room on December 1st, and then our family works on it over the holidays until December 31st. It’s really old school, but there’s something about it that stimulates good conversation and the sharing memories of Christmases past.”

Mayor Linda Buchanan, City of North Vancouver:

“Our favourite Christmas tradition goes back to when I was a child. On Christmas Eve, my parents would take me and my siblings out for breakfast and then we would visit Santa at Woodward’s. We would later attend church and as we got older we would have friends over in the evening to celebrate together. My husband and I have carried on this tradition with our own four children. When they were younger it would be breakfast and Santa, followed by the Christmas train. As they are now young adults, we do still go for breakfast and then we attend either a Christmas play, movie or musical event. In the evening we gather together, often with their friends, and share great food and drinks. Once everyone has gone to bed the presents are put under the tree. Magically, by morning their stockings are filled and their gift from Santa has arrived. You are never too old to believe! Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.”

Mark Pearmain, superintendent, North Vancouver School District:

“Our favourite family Christmas tradition is volunteering at the North Shore Community Christmas Dinner. We volunteer as a family as a way of giving back. We love serving others and sharing a special evening with our larger community. For us it is the true meaning of Christmas.”

Philippe Segur, support programs co-ordinator, Harvest Project:

“Our annual family tradition includes a trip to Aldor Acres farm in Langley to pick up the Christmas tree and spending Christmas Eve with our three children enjoying games, appetizers and opening one present at midnight.”

Dave Clark, deputy fire chief, West Vancouver Fire & Rescue:

“Like most first responders working alternating shifts, many Christmases were spent at the fire station with my work family. Often, crew members with family nearby would have them come to the station for a visit and share in the treats that we brought in. For those Christmas days spent at home, my fondest tradition was to bring my mom to our house to open presents and have breakfast together. This was usually followed by a walk through Cates Park with my wife (Kath) and two children (Spencer and Kaitlyn) in hopes to work off a little bit of breakfast and take a short break before making Christmas dinner. On behalf of West Vancouver Fire & Rescue, I would like to wish everyone a safe and healthy holiday season.”

Dan Pistilli, fire chief, North Vancouver City Fire Department:

“To me, Christmas tradition means spending time with family and friends and attending many different social events throughout the festive month of December. Family dinners are a valued and long-standing tradition for the Pistilli family. Typically, we enjoy a large seafood feast on Christmas Eve followed by another family gathering on Christmas Day. Spending time with my parents who have lived in the City of North Vancouver for 60 years is a very special time for all of us. I wish everyone a safe and joyful holiday season and hope you enjoy the precious time with your family and friends.”

Brian Hutchinson, fire chief, District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services:

“The highlight of Christmas for me continues to be traditions around spending time with family. There are two Christmas morning traditions that I always look forward to. First is the opening of the stockings. We go around the room and everyone takes turns retrieving one item at a time from their stocking, always fun. The second tradition I always look forward to is spending part of Christmas Day at North Shore Neighbourhood House. This tradition was started by my wife Janelle many years ago, and we both enjoy being able to support the great work they do providing a festive meal to many in our community, and for everything they do all year long for the North Shore. Season’s Greetings, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to all.”

Const. Jeff Palmer, spokesman, West Vancouver police department:

“I really love just getting together over the holidays with family & friends, but beyond that giving to others is something the season just doesn’t feel complete without. Working together with West Van firefighters each year on our Emergency Services Gift Drive for Family Services of the North Shore Christmas Bureau always means a lot to me. And with my parents blessing, giving their gift each year as a donation to Union Gospel Mission.”

Murray Mollard, executive director, North Shore Community Resources Society: 

“Growing up on the prairies, one thing I always crave at this time of year is some real, white snow. So our family tradition is to head up to the mountains and do some cross-country skiing with some apres-ski in front of a real, crackling fire.”