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‘Tis the season for family, White Russians, mittens

This time of year offers hundreds of activities for the Prince George family to attend to help get you in the mood for the holiday season.

This time of year offers hundreds of activities for the Prince George family to attend to help get you in the mood for the holiday season.

For my family, all of the activities happen on the same day leading to a frenetic and busy start to the holidays. At one point, a person will just have to stop and say no to a number of Christmas events because how many times does a child need to see Santa. So far our kids have seen Santa twice and we have not even hit the mall for our annual Santa photo.

Due to a number of illnesses including croup, pink eye, a nasty cold and the Norwalk virus in late November and early December, preparation for the holidays has been a bit slow moving.

I regret to inform the Prince George community that I missed the Festival of the Trees. Since I moved back home, the Festival of the Trees has been our Prince George tradition.

My parents, husband, kids and I usually go to the Civic Centre and look at the beautiful trees and try to win a tree.

So far, we have not won but I remain hopeful for next year. I look around the beautiful trees and judge them (just a little) because they are too beautiful.As we unpack our largely handmade decorations, I feel just a little superior because our tree has the heart and soul of a family. The perfect festival trees are beautiful, but they are not our tree.

As for the rest of our Christmas traditions, our tree has been hunted, cut, decorated and enjoyed while sipping on belly-warming beverages of the seasonal variety.There is nothing quite like drinking white Russians while fighting to convince a spruce tree to stay upright in the world's most terrible tree stand.

The general ineffectiveness of the tree stand continuously astonishes me.Our current tree stand is large and full-bottomed; it has a deep reservoir for water and no less than four pegs to hold the tree.You would think that would be enough, but no.Every year, we fight the stand and the tree we have chosen and curse the spirit of Christmas. Using a variety of shims repurposed from children's blocks, we managed to prop the tree upright in an approximation of straightness and we are hoping the small Pisa-type list does not get any worse.

In the meantime, the children are under strict guidelines to avoid touching the tree in any way and we have only lost two ornaments (so far) by toddler handling. The tree is beautiful, even though we forgot to put on the garland.

It lights up the house and warms the spirit.

Well, that and the White Russians.

Winter has come finally to Prince George and frozen our collective nose hairs.A delayed winter in the North just means that the switch to cold weather makes us whinier and less able to find the winter items that have spread themselves amongst four Rubbermaid containers in their basements (maybe that is just me).

For now at least, I am enjoying the stark and beautiful sky and piercing sun that has enveloped our region. The trees are frosted and the limbs are bare contrasting with the puffy layers of winter accoutrements and fuzzy blankets currently surrounding me.My coffee is hot and warming my hands and I am looking forward to the holidays, wherein I can justify having cream in my coffee to warm my body and soul.

By cream, of course, I mean Bailey's.

Friends of ours live in the mountains in Wells and they have been hit with a steady stream of -30 degree weather so I feel fortunate that our cold hasn't been that cold.

I have been knitting endless amounts of mittens for my family and friends and I have come to a decision.I am bringing back the mitten string.

The Knitted Mitten String is for people, like me, who have a tendency to lose one mitten.Cast your mind back to when you were a child.A grandparent had given you a pair of handmade mittens that were tied together by a string that was fed through one arm hold in your winter coat.

If your hands got hot during sledding or snowman building, you could peel your mittens off and they would hang freely from your sleeves collecting snowballs and slowly freezing. When your hands were cold again, you put on your soggy mittens and kept playing.

In the last two weeks, everyone in my family (with the exception of my husband) has lost at least one mitten.Now I am running low on hand warmers for the season and I have been forced to retrace all of the steps and places my kids have been in the hopes of finding the lone mitten that needs its friend.

In the event that you receive mittens from me this Christmas and you are wondering about the long string, I'm trying to help.

Your mittens will be able to hang down without the accompanying worry of losing them.Your bare hands will be free to hold your coffee or tea (with or without Irish cream) and there will be no awkward shuffling and holding of mittens and gloves underneath your arm.

Free your hands, use the mitten string.