Family returns to Brussels for Sholdice celebration - Christmas 2018
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Christmas is a time of great celebration for the Sholdice family in Brussels, but holiday celebrations are often put on hold until it’s officially Dec. 25 so they can celebrate another very special birthday.
Doug Sholdice, long-time local businessman and 2018 Brussels Citizen of the Year Award winner, and his family always make sure there is clear separation around the holidays. Doug’s wife Corrie’s birthday is Dec. 24, so Doug and their four children ensure Corrie feels special on Christmas Eve, despite the impending excitement of Christmas.
Their children – son Ryan, daughter Alixandria and twin daughters Meagan and Jordyn and their respective partners – all come home to the family’s Brussels-area home farm for the holidays, making the trip from Hamilton, Wingham and elsewhere in Brussels respectively, starting on Christmas Eve to celebrate Corrie’s birthday.
Corrie says that even when she and Doug were first married, Doug always went out of his way to make her birthday special, despite its proximity to Christmas.
“Doug always made it special,” she said.
Last year, in fact, the family made it extremely special, she said, as she celebrated her 50th birthday with a party at the farm with all manner of family, friends and neighbours on Dec. 23.
As for the Christmas season, when the kids were young there was always plenty to do in Brussels to help get them into the Christmas spirit. Not only is there the annual Santa Claus parade, but they were always frequent visitors to the home of the late Wayne Lowe at Christmas.
Wayne was always the village’s resident Santa Claus and he hosted a Christmas village at his home before the holidays every year. The Sholdices made a point to visit every year, see Wayne and take a tour of his workshop.
When it comes to Christmas morning, things have moved a little later in recent years, but there were some years where the holidays included at least one very early morning.
Ryan said there was definitely one year when the entire family was up and opening presents and they finished opening everything before the sun came up.
The Sholdice children were always greeted with full stockings on Christmas morning. They were always full of small, fun gifts with one constant year after year: a toothbrush and toothpaste.
Like many with socks and underwear, the Sholdice children have come to expect their annual top-up of dental care products over Christmas and they say they try to time the demise of last Christmas’s toothbrush in time for another one over the holidays.
The family then has a big brunch once the gift-giving is out of the way, another Sholdice family tradition that would make serious waves with the children if it were skipped for some reason.
Over the years there have been some Christmases that have been more memorable than others.
Ryan remembers when Doug brought home a snowmobile for the family, or taking horse-drawn sleigh rides around the family’s farm property courtesy of neighbour Ross Cunningham.
There was the time that the whole family found out about a trip to Disney World at Christmas and then last year when they went south together for a tropical vacation gifted at Christmas.
Corrie is also the family’s official Christmas baker, although her daughters have taken up the mantle and work with her every holiday to make sure there’s always something sweet around the house to eat at the holidays.
There are the traditional Christmas treats like shortbread and ginger snaps, but Doug’s favourite and a must-bake for Corrie has always been her famous, homemade Nanaimo bars.
The big baking weekend usually takes place about two weeks before Christmas and that is a tradition that has been passed down to Corrie through the generations by the women in her family.
With grandparents from both sides of the family living near Brussels, the Sholdices always make a point to get together with their elders over the holidays. With all of the Sholdice children coming back to Brussels for the holidays ever year, the kids say that Christmas and the days leading up to it are really all about family. As long as the family is together, it doesn’t matter which gifts are under the tree or what they do, everyone will be happy.
There is, however, the annual hockey game that happens on the cement pad just outside of the family’s house every year. Everyone, regardless of age or hockey ability, takes part in the game and while it can get competitive at times, it’s always all in good fun.