Tag Archives: christmas

Memories of Christmas Past

For the first time in many years, I’m home on Christmas with nothing to do, except clean up from the night before since we had our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. I tried to plan something for today. I tried to find a place where I could volunteer to help serve Christmas dinner – at a shelter or church. Getting the vulnerable sector screen done at the police station was not the problem. Most places had a policy in place where volunteers had to be trained and training was scheduled for January. Some places were surprised I was offering and didn’t know how to answer me. Some never answered at all. Emails and voice mails left unanswered.

I don’t remember any Christmases before I went in the CAS at 5 years old. I remember the Christmases afterwards though. My foster mother, Alice, would bake the week before – mincemeat tarts, lemon tarts, butter tarts, and shortbread cookies. Then there would be tortière. On Christmas eve, my father, Art, would drive us around to see all the glorious Christmas lights. We’d joke about the most extravagant ones, how they must work for the hydro company! When we got home, we’d hang our stockings, drink our eggnog, watch a Christmas movie on TV, sing some carols, and then go to bed and try to sleep; excited for the arrival of Santa.

On Christmas morning we’d find our stockings on our beds, to keep us amused until the grownups awoke. Inside were colouring books and crayons, clementine oranges (a real treat back then), jigsaw puzzles and small books to read. When the grownups awoke, we’d have breakfast at the kitchen table; usually pancakes or french toast. Then we’d gather around the Christmas tree to open our gifts. We learned patience and delayed gratification in the process! The gifts were never anything large, usually clothing, books, a jigsaw puzzle, and a toy or two. A handmade cradle for a favourite doll, a stuffed animal (mine was a poodle) that we could cuddle with at night; just little things that showed us we were loved and thought of.

After we got dressed, we’d help my mother in the kitchen with the turkey. We’d chop onions and celery for the stuffing, and prepare the turkey for the oven. Even the phrase “sweet and savory” reminds me of my childhood Christmases. In the afternoon the relatives would start to arrive. They’d bring bottles of wine and boxes of candy, such as chocolate covered cherries and Allsorts licorice. We’d all talk at once, in French and in English and eat until we’d almost burst. I’d pass my lima beans to our dog Rex discretely, and he’d be grateful because someone snuck him food from the table!

Dishes were done in shift work. When the tea towel from drying got too wet to dry anymore, another person with another towel would take over. Clean up went by quickly.

So while I spend an uneventful day today, I’m reflecting on my parents, and how grateful I am for all that they gave me and taught me. I’m grateful for the “normal” childhood, for the values demonstrated, and for the lessons of charity that were their most important gifts to me. I tried for many years to recreate that feeling of Christmas and family in my home. I hope I did. Because it isn’t about the expensive gifts, it’s about family, friends, and above all else, love.

This Christmas, I wish everyone much love in their lives.

The Season for Giving

 

Syrians

Christmas is just around the corner. This is the time of year that embodies the spirit of giving. And yet, for so many people it’s only about receiving, and their giving is limited to their immediate circle.

There is a refugee crisis happening and as we accept some displaced people into our country, the ugliness of some people is starting to show. A familiar refrain I continue to hear is “we need to help our own first”. Such concern for the woes of our society is admirable, or is it? What do these people actually do to help others in OUR society? Most of the time, absolutely nothing. They donate neither time nor money to any charitable cause.

Some of the people making these remarks have very comfortable lives, sometimes owning several houses. There they sit in their comfortable, heated homes, complaining that the people we’re helping don’t look as destitute as they expected. As if somehow they need to suffer more before “deserving” our help. Or they’ll complain that the coats that were donated (we live in a cold climate) were too expensive. Companies should only give them cheap things. They don’t deserve any better than that. How dare someone be given a $400 coat for free. Ikea is giving away furniture – what the heck! I’d like a free couch too!

It’s the “me” generation. Screw everyone else, let’s just worry about ourselves. I’d like to say I’d refuse to help these people if they ever needed it, but that’s not who I am.

It reminds me of a US state governor who voted against providing aid to another state during a disaster. When his state was hit with a similar disaster, he demanded the federal government step in and provide aid to them.  There’s a word for people like that – actually several words. Hypocrite, selfish, greedy, uncaring, cold hearted, unChristian.

It’s also ugly and disgusting.

Oh, and the comments about “helping our own first”? Some of my ancestors were aboriginals (Cree and Metis). It’s a good thing they didn’t think that way, isn’t it?

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It’s Started

snow

I woke up this morning and saw a thin white layer covering the ground outside. My heart immediately sank. It had started; the snow had come. It was all downhill from here. Shorter days and longer nights. Dropping temperatures, until we once again become frozen tundra. I don’t embrace winter. I don’t ski, or skate (anymore); to be honest, I seldom even walk the dog in the winter. I hibernate and get depressed.

It also means that Christmas is coming. I love celebrating Christmas, but here’s another admission – I’m not so crazy about all that shopping beforehand. I absolutely hate shopping. I often wonder if I should try to start making gifts instead of buying, but I’d have to be organized enough to start in January.

Or I could seriously plan some online shopping. I could start my list in August/September, and start shopping online for deals. Then there would be enough time for delivery.

On second thought, I’m not crazy about online shopping. The only things I’ve ever ordered online that didn’t disappoint me were personal products and books. Clothes never fit me (and then I have to go through the trouble of returning) and other products don’t look like they did in photos.

I’m trying something new this year. I’m usually busy at work and find it difficult to get the shopping done on the way home from work or just on weekends, when the malls are at their worst. That definitely stresses me out and makes the entire experience unpleasant. This year I’ve taken lots of time off, so I can put the tree up and decorate it, shop for the gifts when the malls aren’t their busiest, and do it at a leisurely pace. I need to make it a positive, stress-free activity. Maybe that will improve the experience.

That and a pair of good shoes.

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