A Holiday Mirror: Reflections on Warm Winter Memories

December 13, 2018 by University District

U/D partners, friends and neighbours share their holiday memories


Memories – that’s what the holiday season is all about. From recollecting those cozy nights with loved ones in front of the fireplace with hot chocolate in hand to creating new memories with friends, family and neighbours at Northwestival, our annual winter celebration.


At U/D we love bringing community together and our feel-good annual community festival was our brightest yet! With classic holiday activities like roasting s’mores and holiday hayrides, Northwestival was the perfect winter outing to get together with our nearest and dearest, make new seasonal memories and share the holiday cheer!


In celebration of Northwestival, we are sharing our favourite photos capturing winter memories and traditions from our partners, friends and neighbours of University District. Let’s take a look!


CONTEST Alert! Get into the holiday spirit and share a photo or video that shows your fondest and warmest winter memories. From holiday party traditions and sipping eggnog or wine with friends to baking holiday confections with the family. Share these moments with us and be entered into our Northwestival contest! You could win our Warmest Memories prize pack worth $250 with delights from Analog Coffee, including a coffee grinder, Aeropress, three bags of coffee, reusable cup and a $50 gift card! Contest ends December 21st. Share those photos before it’s too late! Get contest details here



Eat, Drink and be Merry


Our charity for Northwestival 2018 is I Can for Kids providing Calgary kids with healthy meals during the summer months. For 14-year-old Calgarian and founder of I Can for Kids, Sutton Garner reminisces of cold winter days donning her favourite apron, pulling out her favourite recipes and baking up a storm with her mom.


“When it’s cold outside, we love staying indoors and baking for the holidays. There’s nothing like the smell of freshly baked cookies and pastries. Sometimes the baking actually lasts long enough to see Christmas Day… unless it’s chocolate chip cookies!”


– Sutton Garner, I Can for Kids




Sleigh Bells Ring


The exhilaration as you dash through the snow. The wisps of breaths floating in the crisp winter air. The peacefulness that blankets the forest, interrupted only by the thunder of paws. For Jenna and her husband, dogsledding has become a favourite but cherished winter moment.


“Dogsledding with my husband is becoming a tradition. This has been our favourite outdoor activity as we love dogs and the mountains. We are hoping to go every year.”


– Jenna, Brookfield Residential


Did you know? For the past two years, we have partnered with Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours for Northwestival? They are a fan-favourite and we understand why. Their adorable, furry friends are so cute, the sight stops everyone in their tracks!



Dashing Through the Snow


Ready, set, go! The wind in your face as you race down the hill to be first to cross the finish line. Tobogganing is a favourite pastime for many, including Travis. Every year he looks forward to sunny Calgary winter days where he can capture precious moments with his kids as they speed down the hill laughing, smiling and full of joy.


“My fondest winter memories are those winter days where the sun is shining and the sky is blue. It’s the perfect day to go to the nearby Toboggan Hill with my family and have some fun in the snow.”


– Travis, West Campus Development Trust




Making Spirits Bright


The holidays are a magical time of year which is why our neighbour and friend, the Ronald McDonald House does their best to give the gift of holiday magic to families whose children are receiving treatment at the nearby Alberta Children’s Hospital.


“It’s about capturing those enchanted moments. Each year, we kick off the holiday season with our Light the House festivities, which includes refreshments, carolers, and crafts. We always get a helping hand from the Calgary Fire Department to put up our lights, and this year our thanks go to Engine 17 and Aerial 11. Inside the House, our Elf on the Shelf ‘Twinkle’ visits each December, and families get a special visit from Santa himself! On Christmas morning, through our generous donors and volunteers, our Santa Sacks program provides special gifts tailored to each family. And most importantly, during a difficult time in their lives, our families get the gift of being able to stay together at the Ronald McDonald House.”


– Ronald McDonald House


We sat down with Jason Evanson, CEO for Ronald McDonald House Charities Southern and Central Alberta, to speak about Northwest Calgary’s community spirit and sense of volunteering, and what it’s like having U/D as a neighbour. Click here to see what he had to say! 




Ho Ho Ho


From plates of treats and unwrapping toys to trimming the tree, the holiday season isn’t complete if our furry friends aren’t part of the festivities. For Sara, the winter holidays without her cat Parker just wouldn’t be the same!


“One of my warmest winter memories was the first Christmas with our cat, Parker. We always knew he was a big cat, but when we took this picture in front of our Christmas tree, we realized just how big he was  – so big that he made the tree look small! This December will mark his 3rd Christmas with us.”


– Sara, Truman




‘Tis the Season to be Jolly


Bundled up in a mountain cabin next to a crackling wood burning fireplace. Festive tunes filing the room. The scent of smoking cedar, the sparkling lights of holiday decorations and the picturesque view of snow-covered pines. Warming up to the holidays in a cabin is an long-lasting tradition for many families. For Josh, it’s become a recent tradition they’re planning to keep for years to come.


“My family is pretty low key, but a recent tradition has been time at our family cabin in Montana. Together, we snowshoe, hang out by the fire, play board games and enjoy the fresh snow with our dog Jaxx!”


– Josh, West Campus Development Trust




A Winter Wonderland


Holiday traditions are a wonderful way to anchor family members, humans and four-legged companions, providing a sense of unity and belonging. Whether you’re starting a new tradition or are carrying on a 10-year tradition, it’s the memories that remain with you. For Jillian, last winter was a year of starting new traditions that she hopes to celebrate for years to come.


“In the winter we spend a lot of time in the mountains – last year was our first with our puppy and had a blast snowshoeing and playing in the snow. It was also my first holiday season joining my boyfriends family in their annual tradition of skiing on Christmas day in Fernie. It was soooo cold but beautiful!”


Jillian, Brookfield Residential



Photo credits: LeighAnne Hazard Photography



Happy Holidays!


At University District, we believe the cornerstone to a healthy community is to build new connections, relationships and create long lasting memories. This is what makes a community feel like home.


This year has been a year marked with firsts and new traditions. From breaking ground on our senior’s complex with our partner Brenda Strafford Foundation and welcoming our first residents of U/D to celebrating Calgary’s winter season with community at the second annual Northwestival, we’re creating memories that will be cherished not only by our team, but by those who have been a part of our journey. Thank you for an incredible 2018.


From our family to yours, we wish you a wonderful holiday season and warm wishes for 2019!



Thank you to everyone who joined us at Northwestival and a special thanks to our sponsors, partners and volunteers who made this event possible!


Have a blog idea or topic you want us to write about in 2019? Share your suggestions with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


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