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Monday, December 22, 2008

IT'S CHRISTMAS, AND IT'S SNOWING!

I have always loved the snow. You'll see that in this photo of me, age 18 months, when we lived on the Prairies. I have many memories of sleigh-rides and building snowmen and snow forts.
I only vaguely remember falling into a big drift and getting stuck and almost frozen. To this day my feet get cold very quickly. But still, I like snow!

When we lived in Lloyminster, I remember learning to ice skate, first on bob-skates with a double blade, then real blade skates. I loved playing hockey on frozen ponds and once fell and cracked my elbow. I still remember the wire cast I had to wear for awhile. Still, I love snow!
Here's a photo of me age 6 with my 1 year old sister Jeannie. Even in the snow she loved having her dolls and doll carriage to play with. I prefered skates, sleds and later skis.

Christmas and snow time were always exciting happy times in my childhood and I still try to keep them like that. This weekend a heavy snow fell on Vancouver which is unusual in that the temperatures were extremely low, below zero celcius and there is about a foot of snow on my balcony. This wrecks havoc on the streets, of course, as people here aren't used to driving in these extreme conditions. Still, I love snow. Today the sun is shining, it's much warmer, there's a lot of slush on the roads (you need hip-waders to cross streets at the corners), but it's a glorious winter day. I actually built a snow-man on my balcony! Yes, I'm still a kid at heart.

Some of the best Christmases in my childhood were spent in Stratford Ontarion when my mom, sister and I lived at my grandparent's house during the war when Dad was overseas. Christmases even in war-time were happy events. All the relatives would come to Grandpa's for the holidays and there was great fun all the time. Some of my Christmas memoir stories are about these times. And this is one of my most favorite memories.
Grandpa's House, Stratford, Ontario.
That's our dog, Dutchess.

CHRISTMAS AT GRANDPA’S

Christmas in the ’40’s was a time when all the relatives came to celebrate at Grandpa’s house. We trooped to the train station and waited on the wooden platform, our breaths puffing like the steam from the locomotive engine. Travelers spilled out onto the platform. Happy greetings filled the air as family members embraced and made their way down the snowy streets.

At Grandpa’s house we crowded around the Christmas tree, the crackling of the flames in the hearth sounding like pop-corn. We played games and Uncle Frank performed a comical rendition of “Herbert Burped”, about a little boy who gets swallowed by a lion. Then we children were tucked snugly into bed to await Santa’s arrival.

One Christmas stands out in my memory, the year I bought the most memorable Christmas presents. I felt very grown up as I went off to Woolworths to find some unique gifts.

Then I saw it. A Chinese dragon on a bamboo stick, the head made of painted clay, with a red felt tongue, the body accordion-pleated tissue paper. When you waved the stick, the body expanded and the head shot out, tongue flickering, like a real fire-breathing dragon.

I felt proud as I showed Mom my extraordinary purchases, but she scolded me for ‘wasting’ money on something so impractical.

Christmas morning I waited nervously as the presents were opened. Instead of thinking my gifts were foolish, everyone was delighted, especially Uncle Frank. He played with his dragon all day. Uncle Frank always was the life of the party!


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