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By Jocie Ferron

Gloves, mittens, beanies, snowsuits! Currently these are the bane of my existence as a mom in Canada.

Growing up in Australia, where the coldest weather requires us to wear a sweater and closed shoes, dressing kids for snow is something I dread every year (although at least it’s getting slightly easier the older they get).

I never thought I would get so obsessed with mittens. Wet mittens, cold mittens, too-small mittens, mittens with itchy tags on the inside, mismatched mittens and my current problem … lost mittens.

Now, the wonderful (and sometimes annoying) thing about the internet is that there is always someone with an opinion – on any given topic! Just before the mitten dramas in our house, I read a blog on why we shouldn’t get mad at our children when they lose gloves at school. Timely, I know. It was a nicely written piece about the daily traumas faced by Canadian children in putting on snowsuits multiple times a day, encouraging us parents to be understanding if somewhere, in the melee, a poor little mitten gets lost.

So I actively decided to be that relaxed, mittens-be-damned kind of mom, concluding that winter is crazy enough without worrying about handwear. I even spouted my new-found zen attitude to my neighbours after their son lost a mitten.

Well, my eldest little man is now in Grade 3 and hasn’t lost a mitten in all his years at school. But it seems his little brother missed the memo that said "pay attention to your mittens". Last week, two good mittens disappeared, and one was from a brand new pair worn for the first time!

You can imagine my neighbours laughed with great glee when I told them.

Needless to say, zen mom has been thrown out and buried in the snow, and "grumpy, respect your stuff or you will have to help pay for new mittens with your allowance" mom has returned.

Mittens aside, the transition from fall to winter is always a crazy time. School starts, winter is looming, snow suits come out, elves appear, Christmas lights go up and the snow on the ground heralds the arrival of Christmas. Life tends to get hectic … and then, of course, the hubby has to travel lots for work!

I have finally finished my nursing course, with the last exam just gone, so I am enjoying having no extra studying/working responsibilities for the next couple of weeks. I plan to enjoy Christmas to the full because next year I will once again be a member of the working world.

I don’t know about anyone else, but the closer it gets to Christmas the more I try to avoid the shops. They are just so absolutely, ridiculously full of people! Here's how I survive Christmas:

  • Start Christmas shopping in July! I really do, and I often get incredulous looks from people. But sometimes you just see the right thing and for an amazing price and by the time you get to December, Christmas shopping is mostly done.
  • Buy online for overseas gifts. It's much cheaper than buying and then paying for postage, and is more likely to arrive quickly. Last time I sent something airmail to Australia, it took three months!
  • Arrive early for Santa pics. This year I followed that plan and we just breezed in. Last year we waited for 30 minutes. It's my yearly Christmas "thing" and will continue as long as the kids are happy to go without me bribing them too much. I let them wear what they want, make whatever face they want and see it as a wonderful snapshot in time of what the kids where like at that age.
  • Be polite. Everyone seems stressed and it's amazing how grumpy some people get at Christmas, so I try very hard to not be that person (OK … so I have my moments, like that time when someone stole my car park right in front of me!)
  • Do something nice for a stranger, just because you can. It feels great when something unexpected happens… like when the lady in front paid for my coffee last week!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

More articles from the joyful Jocie Ferron:

Australian nurse Jocie Ferron was volunteering in Mongolia when she met her French-Canadian husband, who was working in the mining industry. After a few years living in Australia they decided to settle in Canada with their two young children. They enjoyed a few years in a north Quebec mining town (where Jocie had daily adventures navigating life in French) and they've now settled in New Brunswick.