Christmas’s past

I try to go back many many years, but there are blanks in my thinking. Some of my Christmas’s must have not been very memorable. they just seem like a blank to me. I am just not sure of where those memories have gone to. We celebrated Christmas every year. Large and small family gatherings through the years. Times when neighbours and friends where at the house. Memories on the farm. Then later in Mitchell where my parents moved after the sale of the farm.

I look through Facebook and I see so many happy faces. Family and friends getting together to enjoy each other’s company. To laugh and to share new memories. To share traditions from years past. This makes me wander back to years gone by with my family and wonder where the memories are.

Christmas has past for another year and this one is a little bitter sweet. You see my brother had passed a few months ago and this is the first Christmas in many years that he has not spent with us. Since we moved to British Columbia 30 some years ago my brother has been spending his Christmas with us. No matter where we where he would drive or catch a plane to be with us. Well he is here in spirit with us this year.

The first year we spent in Nanaimo. We had just moved to BC that year. Bob came over from White Rock where he lived. We all gathered at my other brothers place for a meal. It seems when we got there Christmas had already been celebrated by everyone. So we sat around for a bit and chatted. Then headed back to our trailer as his family had someplace else to be. So our first quiet Christmas together in BC. Bob came to the trailer for a bit before he headed back to White Rock.

Over the years as we moved around from Nanaimo, Campbell River, Masset, Hudson’s Hope, Vernon, Maple Ridge and Mission. We always had a visitor with us at Christmas time. Bob was either there for a couple of months or just a few days. Depending on how much time the lodge was giving him off. At the lodge for three years while we all worked there together, walking the beaches in Masset, to building snowman in Hudson’s Hope in very chilly weather. Bob even went skating with us that year. He still had a pair of skates that he kept in a storage box he had at our place. We moved these items with us wherever we went. To Vernon where we had a very small rental and he didn’t have much of a place to sleep. To coming to Maple Ridge to just spend a day or two till he went back to the lodge to be there while everyone else went to holidays. Then last to Mission where he spend a couple of months is his suite down stairs. To he last few years where he was here full time. Every year he had a home made present for us. He made signs, benches, small toys to play with, carved a dolphin for me and made an arbour where my roses grow now. A bench in the centre, a tranquil place to sit. He Always made something special and made of wood. He made ginger bread houses with our son. He brought the kit with him to do with Rob. He helped me with Christmas meal. Always brought the desert or went to the store and bought one in town. So when we bought the house in Mission he would always be on hand to put the lights outside. Not a big display, but the front eves where lit up beautifully.

Now to this year and no outside lights have been out . His chair was at the table, but no one to sit there. One less table setting was set out this year. I woke yesterday morning and did shed a couple of tears. I will miss his quiet manner and his odd little joke. There was no little wooden trinket this year for me. Desert was on me this year to have. To Bob I will miss you. You made memories for me to cherish. They where small but you where there for me. Always with a helping hand and always behind me when I was down. My strength, my joy and my comfort.

To Bob the time passes, but we carry on. To make more memories. My memory banks are full of things I have done over the years. Some with family and some with friends. I am writing this two days later and am still thinking back. To times and things I have done over the years.

Christmas on the farm. A time of family and friends. Over the years on the farm there have been many gatherings. I hear stories of the days before I was around. The house was filled with aunts and uncles, cousins and friends. Years where Alma and Lawrence would come from the north and stay at the house over the Christmas season. This is a memory from me. The huge snowman we made that year. He resided in our front yard watching over the highway. He had to be at least 15 to 20 feet tall. I would have been about 8 then when we made him. Ken, and Gary Doell our cousins, Bob, Linda and myself. Rolled balls all over the front yard. Then Bob brought the front end loader and and we put the balls all together. A tractor tire for his neck with a rag hanging for his tie. another tractor tire for his hat.

Here is Alma, Lawrence, Ken and Gary Doell (aunt, uncle and cousins) after he was finished. The day they headed back to Spragg. The snowman made the paper as well. Our front yard was home to him for a couple of months until he started to melt away in the spring.

One year Ron, my brother, was home from his travels around the world. Family and friends came to the house to visit with him before he was off again. The house was full that year, but I was way too young to remember any of it. I just know about the house and people always around. Card games being played at the kitchen table. The laughter and activity going on.

Well there I am with Ron that Christmas. He was so worldly and full of adventure. Always loved hearing where he was and the places he went.

As years went on my parents would start to travel at Christmas time. My sisters Linda and Joyce would leave the farm to make lives of their own. Christmas was spent not on the day anymore. Would be the Sunday before as other plans where made. The farm became quiet Christmas’s as extended family gathered with their own family. We would gather one day and enjoy our day. Present where opened and a meal was placed on the table. Our family had grown with spouses and babies. So many memories have past in a blink of an eye.

A couple of years I spent with joyce at her place while mom and dad where traveling. They Would spend a large family gathering with the Kelly family. Wow very large family gathering. So much activity was going on in these gatherings. Santa even found me there and gave me a couple of small dolls. I played with those dolls for many years.

One Christmas I remember very well. As present where being opened I was given one to open. I was young just starting into my teens. I opened this present and there was a bra in it. I was devastated. Why would I get a bra for a Christmas present. I crumpled it up and threw it down. There was a few more presents there to open so I opened another. Some candy from mom so onto the next. As I opened it up the same material showed through to me. I cried out and threw it away. There was another bra in there. Why would Santa give me something like that. Well if I did believe in Santa why would he do such a thing. I figured I knew who they where from as she laughed and laughed as I opened these presents. I think that was the change in how I felt about Christmas and presents.

The next year Santa was back. Well at least someone was trying for me. We had our Christmas a few days before, but when I came down Christmas Day while mom and dad where headed south there was a present under the tree for me. So who ever was trying to make up for the devastation.

To soon I leave the roost as well to make a life of my own.

It was 1982 and it was the first year I was to host Christmas at our home. I was a nervous reck to have my hubbies family at our house. That year his brother and family where coming home from BC to visit. It was to be a surprise for their parents. So the brother stayed at our place. The day before hubby and I were to be in Michell to celebrate with my family. The weather was bad, but we made the drive up there. Nasty was the day and as the day drew on it just got more nasty. We where stuck there in Michell, but really had to get home. At midnight the wind died and Joyce and her family and us headed out on the road for home. We followed them along the highway to Stratford. Were they left us to make their way another few miles. All made it home safely but that was the longest drive I ever made. Snow storms are not something to be out in.

The next day hubby cleared the drive so all could park at our place. The snow was deep and it was bitter cold, but everyone gathered at our place. That is where I promptly got sick from worry or the drink that my brother in law gave me. I was upstairs visiting with the toilet bowl. What a Christmas that was. But the family gathered around and helped to put the food together. All was well and the gathering was a success. Well all except me who decided then and there that hosting things was not a thing for me todo.

Another Christmas I remember driving up to Mitchell and it was so icy. We ended up in the ditch. It was cold that year too. Another year that should not have been out on the roads. Hubby decided to drive the back roads up and next thing I know we are in the ditch. The truck slid everywhere before it found us head over teacup with the rear end up in the air and the front end in the ditch. I walked down the road to the nearest farm and he came with a tractor and pulled us out. We made it the rest of the way to Mitchell, but it was a slow ride.

I wrote this little note a few years later to send out in my Christmas card. I think around 1990 I was living in BC at the time and was thinking back then as well

The Mielke clan is on the way, one this cold, white, blustery winter day

Here is Julie in from the city, can’t stay long isn’t it a pity

David and Andrea follow in behind, rush down the stairs to see what they can find

The tree is lit up down in the basement, presents piled high isn’t that a statement

Dad comes down and says you have to wait, you can not open until you have ate.

Up in the kitchen mom flutters around, setting the table with not much of a sound

The turkey is cooking on the grate. Boy oh boy does that smell great.

The desert are all set out on the table, you better hold back if you are able

Come sit down, the table is ready, mom calls down low and steady

Everyone come up and take a seat, now it is time for the first treat.

Dad opens my present for you all, come on now please do not stall

Okay everyone it is time for a drink, ha ha not obscene as you would think

Come on let’s stand and have a toast, to the families that are the most.

Now that the meal is over, lots of leftovers if they had a pooch named rover

Come on John just one more piece, sorry there is no room for a crease.

Everyone gets up as if in a run, sorry no way no opening until the dishes are done

John stretches out on the couch with a grunt, just a little snooze while we wait for the brunt

After awhile all gather in the basement, presents piled high now isn’t that a statement

Dad hands them out as no one else will, oh look there is a sweater do hope it does fit.

There are chocolates for Alex and Linda too, more weight to take off before their Caribbean do

Well lookie there joyce got a pig and Julie a cat, I wonder who would have thought of that

A few more Knick nacks for mom and dad, more thing to collect dust now isn’t that sad

Paper now spread all over the place, it is now time to make some space

Now it seems it is time to go, well let’s have some supper before you must flow

With another meal under the belt, you really are stuffed that is how it felt

The kids have bustled out of the door, followed by Joyce and John who have to do chores.

Linda and Alex they head for kincardin. Oh sorry another trip I beg your pardon.

While out in BC were it may be raining, Ron is doing his normal complaining

About Christmas being a humbug, and all round acting like a slug,

Sue can not seem to smooth things over, with Ron who she thinks should jump in the clover.

Then there is us who are spending our Christmas in a our new place, it is really great to have a new space.

The tree in the corner have not had one in years. Kinda like you should flow with the tears.

Bob May be here or he may be there, all depends if he gets airfare.

Well that is the whole clan, all over in a wide span

Now we all will raise our glass, now all in one big mass

We wish our family on this very day, well what would I really like to say

To all of us merry Christmas and a very much god bless

To mom and dad the very best parents to be found, to my two sisters who I see little when I am around

To my two brothers who take care of me in BC,with their support I feel happy with glee

To their families who I have made fun of, please don’t take it personal I don’t want to put on the gloves

Well this is the end of my tale, I hope you had a great big whale

Of a laugh or two at your own expense, for it is Christmas and happy pretence.

Well it is by for now I have to say, enjoy your Christmas in the best way

Okay it isn’t the greatest writing but at the time I thought it might be funny. I had been living in British Columbia for three years then and was missing family in Ontario. Homesick at Christmas time so thought it might brighten me a bit to write that. I did make allot of remarks about family in there

Now I did do another thing on Christmas for a number of years. Until the store told me no more. You see I played secret Santa. For at least three or four years I would write up a note of some kind and then leave a bunch of home made presents up at customer service. For a few months before I would craft away at some sort of item. Dozens and dozens of them I would make. Some years it was knitting and crocheting things. Other. years I made Christmas decorations. Then I would write some sort of funny story to go along with it. Leave everything at customer service and these items would be handed out to many many employees who worked there. They never figured it out for at least four years. It was always funny for them to gather around and talk about it up in the staff room. Trying to figure out who it was. After people started figuring out who it was I kept doing it, just to keep up with the fun and to decorate the desk at customer service.Then one year Scrooge stepped into our store. A manager who did not want decorations up. We use to decorate so much and make the store festive. This Scrooge decided that it was way too much. it took away from the retail part of the store. I was also told that not to be bringing in presents for everyone anymore. So I stopped and the fun went out of being in that store. So I just worked my days until I couldn’t anymore. Put my crafting to a better use then the store.

So my thinking back on Christmas’s past is done. I miss the big family gatherings. I know I was young, but I do have memories of family being at the farm house. Of our smaller gatherings as the family spread to their own family gatherings. To our family of four now three as we gather on the day to enjoy a meal. We do not do presents anymore. For a bit we did and then it just started getting out of hand with buying things just for the sake of buying something that we really didn’t need. The pressure is off to go into the mall so close to Christmas. It was fun when we where younger but now it is just stuff. Oh there is that word again. Stuff. Yeah I use the word stuff allot. Sometimes just too much stuff that no one will want.

So these days we get together and make our memories every day. Enjoy a meal that is made for the day. Watch those hallmark movies on tv and think of how much life is still to be lived. Oh the hallmarks movies I watch alone. No one else in this family will have anything to do with them. They would rather see a Christmas movie where everyone was fighting and killing people. Something like die hard. I am the mush of the family and will always be and I get my hugs from my son to keep the mush going.

So will talk again later. Hope you all had made some good memories this holiday season. You may think they are just the same old same old, but once they are gone they are gone forever. Keep that love in your heart and make new memories all the time.

Talk to you later

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