TORONTO–Even the busiest celebrities usually get a chance to wind down for the holidays. Christmas marks one of the few times when the music and film industries shut down to mark a special occasion.
We asked performers to talk about what the holiday season means to them and which traditions they like most or have decided to forego.
Rachel McAdams’s family recently scrapped one of their longest-running pastimes: the Christmas stocking.
The “Doctor Strange” actress says her mom would individually wrap each item in the stockings, which was “stressful” to watch. She prefers the newer tradition they’ve adopted: renting out an ice rink just outside Toronto.
“My dad plays hockey and I figure skate,” she says. “My goddaughter comes, and her family. So that’s something we’ve started to do more.”
Sarah McLachlan loves the holidays for its energy and unpredictability, but she also enjoys keeping at least one event on the calendar.
Every year she holds an open house for family and friends on Christmas Eve. “It’s pot luck—very casual and relaxed,” she says.
McLachlan says it’s a rare opportunity to reconnect with her loved ones.
“I’m travelling a lot, my friends are [too], we have kids. So it’s nice to take the time—press the pause button—and get everybody together,” she says.
“Cellphones are away, nobody has a TV on, and we’re just catching up.”
The “Building a Mystery” singer, who just released her second album of Christmas songs, says the atmosphere often inspires her to get on the piano to lead a few carols.
“Alias Grace” actress Sarah Gadon made a pact with her parents to stop buying Christmas presents and create gifts from scratch instead.
“It was the best thing we ever did,” she says. “Everyone comes together and makes something for the family and it’s really special.”
Gadon sometimes uses it as an excuse to get creative in the kitchen.
“This is going to sound super hippy but I like to make my own almond milk,” she says. “So I make my mom and dad, and my brother and his wife, almond milk with homemade granola.”
Whatever singer Tony Bennett does over the holidays he insists it happens in New York City.
The Queens native says while some people think it’s impossible to live in the bustling metropolis, it’s the “best place” to spend Christmas.
“It’s warm, it’s friendly. Everybody’s accepted,” he says. “And they have the beautiful Christmas tree.”
Bennett, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, keeps it simple by gathering on Christmas Day with the families of his two daughters and two sons.
“We’re all close,” he says. “Just the fact that we’re all together means everything to us.”
Former Genesis drummer Phil Collins fondly remembers the Christmases of his childhood because they helped shape his career.
When he was a young boy, his family gave him his first drum kit, opening the door to his interest in percussion. These days he’s using the holiday season to reconnect with his ex-wife Orianne and his sons Nicholas and Matthew.
“Last year was the first year in the new home … so that was special,” he says.
Christmas is also one of the few times Collins—a self-professed workaholic—is able to completely shut off thinking about his career.
“You’re not going to get any phone calls asking you to go to work,” he says. “So it’s a nice family time.”
Nova Scotia-based country singer Dean Brody remembers a valuable lesson from his young son’s first Christmas a number of years ago.
Brody wanted to make sure every adorable moment was captured for posterity, so he clung to his camera for most of the day.
He now says that was a mistake.
“I almost felt like I missed out on Christmas and was like, ‘That’s it, I’m never doing that again,'” he says.
“I didn’t take in the moment because I was recording it.”
From The Canadian Press