North Woods Principal remembers making Christmas house calls
BY DENNY SCOTT
For North Woods Elementary School Principal Dree Park, Christmas has always been a time for family, friends and neighbours and the occasional service call with his father.
Park, who was at Hullett Central Public School for several years before moving to North Woods Elementary School this year, said that Christmas is a time for family now, but when he was young, there was a bit more to it.
“We celebrated in a relatively simple way,” he said. “On Christmas Day we would open gifts in the morning.”
Park’s father is an electrician, he said, and while he knows it didn’t happen every Christmas year, he did have to go on a number of Christmas Day service calls with him over the years.
He said that it was important to his father to make sure that people’s ovens were running on a day meant to be spent with family, so the two of them would go out and fix what needed fixing.
Aside from that, Park said he would go to his grandparents’ house for dinner when he was younger. When he got older, however, his family would host a meal and invite neighbours who may not have had anywhere else to go.
With his family, Park said that Christmas lights have become a big part of their celebration. Aside from traveling around the county to try and see the best displays, he and his family also enjoy decorating the family home with some intense illumination. The only rule, he said, is that lights don’t go up until after Remembrance Day.
“We’re not the Griswolds,” he said, referencing the famously jolly family of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. “But we do have some pretty bright corners of the house.”
Christmas is about spending time with his children and making sure they have a chance to visit their grandparents.
“It’s not so much about the gifts, but about time with the family,” he said. “We put an effort into visiting grandparents because it’s important to have that, especially later on in life.”
Food also plays a part in the traditions, he said, with his family enjoying a French toast casserole for Christmas breakfast, and dinner usually has the traditional staples of turkey and potatoes.
The family has a few “newer” traditions as well, Park said, including getting matching pajamas on Christmas Eve and the Elf on the Shelf practice, which has somewhat evolved this year.
“Our kids named their elf Lollipop, but this year Lollipop has a friend they’ve named Spirit,” he said. “They look forward to seeing them.”
Park said that Spirit and Lollipop have been bringing treats for his sons, and showing up in unique spots. Finding them each day is a fun activity.
He went on to say that having those traditions, and just having children around at Christmas, is half the fun of the holidays for adults.
That sentiment extends to his job, where he’s happy that students and families will get to have a Christmas concert this year.
“It’s nice to return to normal,” he said, adding that the school has had a few other activities over the years that were suspended or altered during the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated lockdowns.