Friday, December 28, 2018

The Best Christmas

Recently I watched an episode of the Walton's, yes, I still watch the show in reruns; it was about Olivia's best Christmas with all the family at home after some difficult times just before the holidays. I started thinking about which Christmas was my best Christmas and you know I don't think I have a best Christmas.
Christmas 1957
We put so much pressure on ourselves to make things just right for the holidays but in the end it will be the little things you remember.  Here are some of the things I remember about my Christmases.

Christmas, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1958
When we were little we used our father's black work socks as our Christmas stockings. We would hang them on the end of our bed, we didn't have a fire place. In the morning by magic, they would be laying on our bed filled with candy, oranges, apples and maybe a couple small toys.  We were allowed to open the socks, we didn't have to wait to get dressed or to have breakfast. It was always this little pleasure that started Christmas morning.

Christmas, Foymount, Ontario, 1961
Another memory is of Midnight Mass. When we were younger Mum would put us to bed for a few hours and then get us up to go to Midnight Mass.  As we got older we would be allowed to stay up to go to Midnight Mass. I remember one Christmas, when we lived in St Margaret's, a little radar station in New Brunswick, walking home after Mass. There was fresh snow glittering and the stars that almost sang the night was so clear and bright.  Dad, who didn't join us at church, would stay home and heat a meat pie. When we arrived home we would have some meat pie and once all of us were old enough to go to Mass would open one gift each before going off to bed. In later years, we started going to an evening Mass which was never quite the same to me.
Christmas, Alsask, Saskatchewan
One Christmas in Alsask, Saskatchewan, I remember crawling past my parent's bed very early in the morning to go out and see if Santa had come. Their room had two doors, one into the hallway to the bedrooms and one into the living room, they used to lock the door from the kitchen to the living room so we couldn't sneak out. We thought we had fooled them but my Mum later told me that she and Dad had laid in bed trying not to laugh as we tried to quietly creep by the bed.  You know, I don't actually remember seeing any of the gifts.

Christmas, Great Falls, Montana, 1969
Decorating the tree is anther memory. Dad would put on the lights and then we would help Mum with the decorations. Decorating the tree ended with carefully placing tinsel, one strand at a time. Mum didn't like it on the tree in clumps. One Christmas Eve in Alsask, I remember watching TV and then when I turned to look at the tree, the candy canes had appeared on the tree as if by magic. At first Mum and Dad told us the elves did it and it meant Santa was near so we had better hurry to bed. Only later did they tell us Dad had snuck out while we watched TV and put the candy canes on the tree. We didn't always have a real tree, sometimes it was artificial. When we lived in Great Falls, Montana, we actually had two trees, one in the living room and one in the family room. Once Christmas Day was over, the toys would be moved downstairs to the family room tree.
Christmas, New Maryland, New Brunswick
Christmas dinner was always special too. Mum would have baked likely for weeks. There were mince meat pies, fruit cakes, cherry nut loaf, shortbread cookies, butter tarts and sugar cookies. We got to help decorate the sugar cookies, most of those didn't go on the plates that guests would see but they tasted just as good. Mum and Dad always made meat pies too, basically an Acadian meat pie, they were made with chicken, beef and pork in a gravy.  It wouldn't be Christmas without meat pie.
Christmas, Moncton, New Brunswick, 2008
I don't recall many of the gifts I've received over the years. But have many memories of Christmas morning opening gifts, when we were little, it was big free for all, with six kids there was always seemed there were many gifts to open.  Mum would always make us have breakfast first. When we got older, we would hand the gifts around so that we would see what everyone got.

Once I moved away from home first to university and then after joining the military, the anticipation of Christmas was better than the reality.  But now I realize that it is the time spent with family and friends makes for the best Christmas, they make for the best memories.

I hope you all had the best Christmas!