9 Canadian Celebrity Holiday Memories
We asked nine of our favourite Canadian celebrities to share their most memorable holiday moments with us. Here are the fondest (and funniest) festive stories from the likes of Rick Mercer, Debbie Travis and Jann Arden.
1. Rick Mercer
Claim to fame: Host of CBC’s The Rick Mercer Report
Fondest/funniest holiday memory: When I was a very little, innocent and impressionable boy of six, I accompanied my slightly older and bad influence of a brother to cut the Christmas tree. After an hour of wandering around the woods, tired and cold, we almost gave up. We were taking a short-cut home through the neighbour’s farm when we saw it; the perfect Christmas tree! Somehow my brother convinced me that even though it was on their property, there were so many trees it would never be missed. Ten minutes later we were dragging the perfect tree up the street.
Best/worst/weirdest gift: Best and worst was an Easy Bake Oven. I remember wanting it very badly and on Christmas morning I found out that Santa delivered. The problem was, my oven never really worked. It took hours to bake the tiniest cake. I eventually figured out it was because instead of two 100-watt bulbs, mine had two 40-watt bulbs. Turns out my parents were convinced shoving 100-watt bulbs inside a toy plastic oven was a fire hazard, but I convinced myself that the reason I had the 40-watt bulbs was because the 100s must have been very expensive. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I realized both bulbs cost basically the same amount.
2. Cheryl Hickey
Claim to fame: Host of Global’s ET Canada
Fondest/funniest holiday memory: A few days before Christmas one year my parents bought our first microwave that came equipped with a cookbook that claimed you could cook your entire meal (including the turkey) in the microwave. My mom knew this was a bad idea but has a wicked sense of humour, so agreed with my dad when he said it had to work. With great excitement my mom prepared the 20-pound turkey for the microwave while she prepared the potatoes, coleslaw, turnip, carrots and cauliflower. After five hours of spinning, Dad pulled out the bird and got ready to carve it. We buckled over with laughter when we realized the bird was basically still alive and not cooked at all. Mom jammed it into the oven and we ate what was ready. Best Christmas dinner of all time!
Best/worst/weirdest gift: Worst was a baby-blue snowsuit for my knock-off Cabbage Patch doll. I was sneaking in my mom’s closet when I spotted it. It was awful (even for a doll), but I felt so bad that my mom had gotten such a bad gift that I ran downstairs, sat on her lap and told her I really, really, really wanted a baby-blue snowsuit for my doll. She started to laugh and I felt like I had really made her feel good, when really all I did was rat myself out for being a sneak.
3. Debbie Travis
Claim to fame: Home decor queen, decorating expert on CTV’s The Marilyn Denis Show
Fondest/funniest holiday memory: My grandma was my hero. She lived through two world wars and died at 90 a very fit and spry woman. Because she had a lot of hardship in her life, she was a real recycler and never threw anything out. For me, my sisters and all my cousins, the highlight of Christmas until the year she died was opening her gift because you never knew what you were going to get. Her big thing was passing on stuff she wasn’t using anymore, so you’d end up with things like a half-eaten bucket of biscuits, her used lipstick she thought would look good on you, a pair of panty hose or knickers she didn’t wear anymore. We’d sit there and open the gifts she mailed – she sent them to us in August, by the way – and cry with laughter.
Best/worst/weirdest gift: All the women in my family are a bit batty, and for 30 years my auntie gave my sisters and I the same gift every year. My sisters were blonde and pretty, and so they always got delicate, lacy underwear. I was brunette and somehow always got the knickers you wouldn’t put your grandma in, the ones that literally came up to your rib cage. I would cry to my mom and say that that was how she saw me, and mom would always try to explain it away by saying she must have thought I was clever and bought sensible knickers because of it. Obviously that didn’t help.
4. Jann Arden
Claim to fame: Award-winning singer, songwriter and author
Fondest/funniest holiday memory: One of the best memories I have, and there are many of them, is of the time my little brother woke up at three in the morning and proceeded to open ALL the presents under the tree. My parents heard the rustling and got up to see what was going on. They managed to rewrap them all and salvage the day. Between that and my Gram dropping the turkey on the floor, it was an interesting event.
Best/worst/weirdest gift: I don’t think I have ever gotten a bad Christmas present. I even liked the comb my Gram gave me one year that had hair in it… Not kidding.
5. Emmanuelle Chriqui
Claim to fame: Star of HBO’s Entourage
Fondest/funniest holiday memory: Being Jewish, I don’t typically celebrate Christmas, but my first boyfriend did. I remember celebrating with his family, which was so fun and wonderful, but the shopping part of it was all put on my shoulders. I ended up having to buy gifts for people I didn’t even know and it became one of the most stressful moments of my life. The next year I strongly suggested that we make donations to charity instead.
Best/worst/weirdest gift: I once had a boyfriend who gave me a giant red box filled with chocolates and candy, and at the bottom of the box I found a plane ticket to go home. I had just moved to Los Angeles and was incredibly homesick, so this was the sweetest gift ever. In fact, it was such a good gift that later in life, I copied the idea of the big box with a special surprise at the bottom for someone else.
6. Steve Nash
Claim to fame: NBA star & founder of The Steve Nash Foundation
Fondest/funniest holiday memory: Christmas has always been my favourite holiday and I have such great memories of my Christmases growing up in Canada. I’ve always really enjoyed time spent with family, and when I was a kid, I loved having a few weeks off of school and spending days on end with my friends and family.
Best/worst/weirdest gift: My favourite gift growing up was a pair of black and blue Air Jordans I got when I was in eighth grade. That’s when I really started to take an interest in basketball, so that gift made me a really happy kid.
7. Jillian Harris
Claim to fame: Former Bachelorette on ABC’s The Bachelorette & current designer for W Network’s Love It or List It Vancouver
Fondest/funniest holiday memory: Being an only child, I spent MANY Christmases with my cousins. The memory that sticks with me most is something I’ve done since I was a kid, where all the cousins make a big, communal bed on the floor on Christmas Eve. As children, our parents would crank the music, drink way too much holiday cheer and we’d have to struggle to get them out of bed in the morning. Now the roles are reversed. The cousins still sleep on the floor – there are eight of us, plus dogs – but it’s us playing the cranked music, drinking too much holiday cheer and struggling to get out of bed on Christmas Day.
Best/worst/weirdest gift: The year after I was on The Bachelor I learned a lot about myself. It was a really weird time for me and I didn’t have a lot of money as I had spent most of it on taking time off for the show. I realized on the show that all the fancy things I experienced didn’t matter, so that year I made everyone promise not to give me ANY presents, unless it was a donation to a charity. I got to donate to my favourite charities, which was great, but my cousin (and favourite person in the world) also surprised me with a mug that had our pictures on it. It also had a line that my grandma always uses to describe us – “Like flies to s***” – and THAT was truly the best gift I ever received.
8. Harley Pasternak
Claim to fame: Celebrity trainer, host of ABC’s The Revolution & founder of 5 Factor Fitness
Fondest/funniest holiday memory: Spending last year on a yacht in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It was the furthest thing you can imagine from snow and Christmas trees. I was consulting for a client from another part of the world – he celebrates Christmas at a different time of the year – and being there that day was the biggest mix of strange events. If you would have told me it was the middle of March, I would have believed you.
Best/worst/weirdest gift: Every year in grade school we did Secret Santa gift exchanges, and one year we had a kid on an exchange program in class who didn’t and had never celebrated Christmas. He drew my name and ended up getting me a bottle of Finesse shampoo as a gift.
9. Jeanne Beker
Claim to fame: Canadian fashion icon.
Fondest/funniest holiday memory: I took a trip to the West Coast of Ireland with my daughters about 10 years ago. I was at a charity auction and I “bought” a week’s stay at a gorgeous country house on Lough Corrib, near a little village called Oughterrard. It wasn’t too long after my marriage had broken up and the girls and I felt like a tiny team: us against the world! The house we stayed in was quite large and so exquisite, filled with antiques and folk art, and the grounds were beautiful. We invited a few close friends to join us for part of the stay so we could share the setting. The designer Louise Kennedy drove out from Dublin, my friend Bonnie Brooks came from London and another couple of dear friends and their young son came from New York. It was heaven, just hanging out in the Irish countryside.
Best/worst/weirdest gift: This sounds a little risqué but since you asked, when we were in the early “hot and heavy” stages of our relationship, my ex gave me an omelette pan with a racy pair of panties inside. All these years later I still put the pan to good use. Can’t say the same for the panties…
Want to schmooze with the A-list over the holidays? Check out our countdown of the 10 Most Popular Christmas Getaways of the Rich and Famous!
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