Christmas is for kids

Christmas, the old saw goes, is for kids, so we asked the children of some well known Ottawans about the Big Day. The weather was still fall-like when we talked to them, but the youngsters leapt into the seasonal spirit with gusto.

Video by Brigitte Bouvier

Photograph by Brigitte Bouvier

Adam & Teagan Kennedy

Eggnog seems an unlikely choice as a 13-year-old’s favourite Christmas food, but, says Teagan Kennedy, “I like to challenge myself not to chug it.” Then again, his

mum, Sheila Whyte, owns Ottawa’s popular Thyme & Again catering and takeout business (his dad, Clayton Kennedy, is a paleontologist at the Canadian Museum of Nature). Teagan’s brother, Adam, who wears an elf hat for the interview and turns nine in early December, loves gingerbread. Seamus the dog had no comment.

What do you do on Christmas Eve? “We put on Santa Tracker!” says Adam, referring to the longstanding service by the North American Aerospace
Defence Command (Norad) that tracks Santa’s gift-delivering progress. (His mum, also a Christmas enthusiast, jumps in: “We say, ‘He won’t come till you’re in bed!’”) Teagan loves popping into bed in his new Christmas pyjamas and reading.

What about Christmas morning? “I’m usuallythe first up,” says Adam. “I have a reflex in my body to get up early on holidays. We open presents and have breakfast.” Teagan says that’s followed by tobogganing on the hill across from their home.

What does Christmas mean to you? “I feel very excited and happy,” says Adam. Says his brother, “It’s celebrating, playing in the snow. It’s just that day, the magic in the air.”

Jack & Bennett Desroches

Photograph by Kathi Langston

Jack (seven) and Bennett (four) are the sons of Steve Desroches, Ottawa’s deputy mayor and councillor for Gloucester-South Nepean, and lawyer Michelle Desroches. This year, the family has two new faces: newborn twins Zoe and Max.

What’s your favourite Christmas movie? “Home Alone,” says Jack. He immediately launches into an astoundingly detailed summary of the movie starring Macaulay Culkin. “Toy Story 3,” answers Bennett after a little prompting from his dad. He doesn’t elaborate.

What do you think the twins will do on Christmas Day? “They’re just going to cry, and their eyes will get red, and they’ll fall on the ground,” decides Jack. Adds his brother, “They’ll pull hair.”

What does Christmas mean to you? “Spending time as a family. Also, it’s Jesus’s birthday,” says Jack, who wants to be a plumber when he grows up because “you get rich.” “We get presents,” says his brother. He hasn’t yet decided on a career.

Photograph by Brigitte Bouvier

Klara & Milena Mancini-Hupel

Klara and Milena Mancini-Hupel live with their parents, interior designer Ernst (“Papa”) Hupel and Michael (“Dad”) Mancini, federal government employee and a professional actor, in a handsome mid-19th-century house in Sandy Hill. Klara is 14 and Milena, seven. Coco, a miniature dachshund, rounds out the family.

What’s your favourite Christmas food? “Lasagna,” says Milena, clearly a beneficiary of Mancini’s Italian heritage. “Sometimes we go to my cousins’ at Christmas and we eat lasagna.” Klara votes for her grandmother’s trifle.

What’s your best Christmas present ever? “I love our Christmas stockings,” says Klara. “They’re really big, and they’re filled all the way up.” Adds Milena with a giggle, “One time I put my stocking on my leg and walked around.”

What does Christmas mean to you? Says Milena, “It’s a time to just relax and be with our family.” Adds her sister, “It’s a break from school, that’s the first thing. Also it’s like everyone’s birthday — everyone gets presents.”

Aidan Wilson Photograph by Kathi Langston

Seven-year-old Aidan Wilson, son of Sean Wilson, artistic director of the Ottawa International Writers Festival, and Kira Harris, the festival’s program director, lives in a book-strewn home in Vanier. When we arrive, he plays Flying to the Moon, part of his piano homework.

What’s the best Christmas song? “I don’t really know the name, but I learned it from Granda.” Asked if he can sing it, Aidan breaks into a sweet tenor: “Glo-o-o-o-o-o-ooria, in excelsis Deo.” The song is the stately carol Angels We Have Heard on High.

What’s the best thing about winter? “Everything! The snow!”

What’s the best Christmas present you ever got? “My iPod!” At which point, he dashes across the room to plant a kiss on the cheeks of his parents who, along with his grandmother, have been hanging on his every word.

Piper and Vaughn Mauler

The sister and brother duo of Piper and Vaughn Mauler agree that waking up to discover Santa has visited is the best thing about Christmas. Piper, eight, and Vaughn, seven, are the children of Jeff Mauler of the New Hot 89.9’s morning radio team Mauler and Rush. Their mum, Lianne Wand, works in communications and marketing. We meet at their dad’s neat-as-a-pin home in west Ottawa where the children are quick to recall capturing Santa on film one Christmas. “We put the camera under the tree and saw him!” says Piper.

Do you leave anything for Santa? “Milk and a chocolate chip cookie,” says Piper. “And a carrot for Rudolph,” chimes in her brother.

What’s your favourite Christmas story? “The Night Before Christmas,” says Piper. Reading the story aloud is not a Christmas tradition, she explains, so “I just read it in my head.” Vaughn prefers Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Best Christmas present ever? No hesitation on that one: “My Wii,” says Vaughn; “My MP3,” says
Piper. This year, the two have decided to ask for just two or three presents so their parents can instead give some money to needy families.

Photograph by Kathi Langston

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