HAPPY JANUARY 2016!
I hope everyone had a good Christmas and quality time with loved ones. I found that almost everyone I asked had a similar response: “It was nice, but quieter this year.” Mine was definitely quieter than others, but so enjoyable. That’s the word: Enjoyable. I actually had time to enjoy what was all around me. My family was not all together this year so we kind of had our get togethers in stages and that was fine. To me the celebration happens when we are together…not just the date on the calendar. Between visits I rested and reflected on our Christmas’s past. I enjoyed going through the family albums and picking out some old black & white photos of family members. Oh yes, and I watched Scrooge’s Christmas Carol a couple times, with popcorn & hot chocolate, as part of my own little tradition. LOL! I dug out many of my favorites. I also watched Serendipity, Christmas Vacation, Meet Me In St. Louis & A Charlie Brown Christmas. The season would not have been complete without: It’s A Wonderful Life, & White Christmas. There. Now you have my ‘most populars’ of the season. I tried to teach Marley to sing the Christmas Vacation song! I did!
I don’t know which of our voices was worse! He did catch onto his cues though. What a cat!
I think I was extra sentimental this year. Maybe it’s an ‘age’ thing as much as I hate to admit that, but if that’s the only way my ‘age’ is getting my attention, then I am very fortunate. This year I just felt acutely aware of what was happening around us. All the trouble around the world, the hunger and poverty, so many fellow brother & sisters in need everywhere! This year I appreciated how wealthy we are to be in our own places whatever they may be, as compared to the grief and hardships in other places in the world.
I wrote quite a lot about my love of Christmas in my previous blogs and that hasn’t changed, however, this year more than ever, I treasured the memories of what our family had together. For one: A childhood with a safe home life filled with faith and we had the security of being loved and cared for. My biggest worry and fret was mostly over the fact that I thought my Mom was mean. Why? Because she wouldn’t allow my dog, Shep, whom I got when I was about 6 months old, into the house, except during thunder storms & holiday breakfasts. Yeah, I sure had it rough!
During my quiet times this season, I let my memories take me to that favorite place in my heart: Memory Lane. I thought how much I would love to go back…just once more to another Prairie Christmas that was so far removed from today, it would have made an excellent black & white movie. I would love to walk down the sheltered spruce tree lane from the house to the main road and listen to the wind whispering through the snow covered branches, one more time. Last time I drove past, the lane had filled in completely.
I am thankful that I can still look back, and write about it before words from the pages of my own mind, fade from sight.
This was one of our earlier trees, before I was old enough to search for the biggest, bushiest one.
Everyone (and I don’t mean just in our family) travelled to get ‘home for the holidays’ and sometimes under extremely cold and snowy conditions. Neighbors kept watch for each other. This little farm , surrounded by trees was always a hub of activity all year ’round.
cell phones or road side service. Somehow they always made it through, by the grace of our Mother’s & Grannie’s prayers, I believe. Back then, however, if your vehicle broke down, whoever stopped (and everyone did) to help, would simply pack you and your children & parcels into their vehicle and bring you home.
Our Christmas preparations usually began after November 11, Remembrance day. That was my Dad’s only request each year. We gave that day of respect to those who fought bravely for our country.
Dad spent the day in his normal way, just a little quieter. We had our minute of silence before our meal for his Brother, our Uncle Herbert, who died as a POW in Hong Kong. He had been gone a long time but our Dad made sure he was never forgotten.
The search for our perfect tree began after that day. It was up to Dad and I to find it.
We made many trips through the bush on our land, each one heightened my anticipation. When we eventually chose ‘the one’, Dad tied a piece of red flannel securely to it, so he wouldn’t forget which one I had decided was pretty enough to dress up for our celebration. How priceless when I re-think that. Dad knew every tree on our farm, and was blessed with an even better memory. He only did that so “I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.”
Early December, Dad hauled out boxes of carefully wrapped decorations. Mom loved her cards and before I went to bed, we spent time together admiring them. I knew a few tears would roll down her cheeks as she became sentimental over an old card from a friend or family member who was no longer here. She would wipe it away and smile: “Well, Aunt Clara, dear, you are still a part of our Christmas this year.” All cards were hung across the room from wall to wall. Everyone did it that way…No E-cards at that time.
Decorating the house and tree were my tasks. One I did with gusto! Anyone who knows me will say I am still the same today. Mom began baking and cooking from morning till night. Dad & I gratefully accepted any leftovers for dessert or evening tea.
It always snowed the day we hitched Paddy & Judy to the sleigh & set out to get the tree. Dad was a tease & tormented me with words like: “Well if it snows any harder we may not find it.” I assured him I knew exactly where it was??? Of course I did. Lucky for me and the red flannel.
Mom sent a thermos of hot cocoa & snacks for us. Once the tree was chopped and safely on the sleigh, we rested with our steaming cocoa and admired our choice. I still recall snowflakes landing in my cup and the joy in bringing that tree home to get Mom’s final okay. She always assured me I picked the best one, ever. I helped Dad with the tree and settling in the horses.
He carried the tree into the barn overnight to thaw. He said the animals needed some Christmas too. As anxious as I was to get the tree into the house, I liked that.
Finally the tree, the house, and yes, even colors in the barn, all looked fabulous. Waves of cinnamon & brown sugar drifted through every room. Homemade cider steamed on the stove for the trail of neighbors who never passed by without a quick stop to drop a gift or card. Family arrived, arms filled with bulky, mysterious packages. My excitement was off the chart! The downstairs bedroom was the hub of secrecy as I listened to rustling of paper and hushed voices.
Christmas Eve, the bubble lights danced on the tree which was surrounded with presents. I had my own secrets under there too. I could hardly wait for my sister to see what Dad had helped me to make for them in his workshop. He got a somewhat knitted scarf and a new story book I had written & illustrated. Neighbors visited on that evening to join us in singing carols. Mom kept the table loaded with baking & cheer. No one left empty handed without a jar of cranberry jelly, a fruit cake or a neatly wrapped box of Annie’s Famous Maple Fudge.
December 25th! What a day! It was my most memorable during my youth growing up on the prairie. Uncomplicated, but valuable. Humble, although rich. Each one became the most special in my heart for the whole year.
I tip-toed down the stairs on Christmas morning while the house was all quiet. Except for Mom & Dad, all were asleep, even the little guys who were camped out on wall to wall sleeping bags in my parents large room. My old crib was still in there. Although I was dying to open presents, I loved this time with my parents. Dad always quizzed me about noise on the roof & I said I didn’t hear a thing! Santa must have landed like the down of a thistle as that song goes because the plate that held my snack for him was empty and my huge homemade stocking was full! Mom reminded us we had ‘way too much of an imagination!
Then it struck! Everyone was up! A quick breakfast was Mom’s unyielding rule. About 30 seconds of silence while Dad said grace and then breakfast was served and we didn’t slouch or grumble at the table on this morning. Mom passed me Shep’s heaping plate, then joined us. I called Shep in from the porch and set his dish beside the stove. “Merry Christmas, Boy.”
Mom put the turkey in the oven while we all helped clear and waited for those long awaited words:
“Present opening time!” Dad carried his coffee into the living room, sat back in his comfy chair and contentedly watched until we came back to our senses again!***
Just one more Prairie Christmas…Oh what I wouldn’t give
To have us all together…The way we used to live.
I think about the family ties…The love from Mom & Dad.
Just one more Prairie Christmas…To share all that we had.
Of course I know it can’t be done…Over time and those who passed.
But still I love to ponder…The traditions we made last.
I’m thankful for these pages…In my mind of years ago…
That I can share in future…a generation they don’t know.
My tree lights twinkled colors…Outside the night was clear…
And back home beneath our prairie sky…
Linger memories of a time so dear.***
I wish everyone a blessed 2016. May you have a healthy, faith refreshed and peaceful new year and enjoy at least one new blessing every day.
Until next time, thanks for reading. My blogs may be a bit slower for the next while. I am working on completing my new book: SHARING BLESSINGS ONE BY ONE. I hope to have it out by Easter.
I love and appreciate all the comments & will try to answer every one of them. Please keep them coming.
@ Memory Lane’s Site www.pagesofmymindblog.com