Monday, November 22, 2010

In the stillness of memories

My family growing up is Canadian, with American heritage
(I was the first to be born in Canada). We also hold Ukrainian traditions.
We celebrated 2-3 thanksgivings, 2-3 Christmases most every year with lots of meals together traditionally.

Our family was large.

We often would spend the festivities outside enjoying hay rides, hot chocolates, warm cider and handmade crafts.
There would be a roaring fire indoors for all of us to gather around and platters of food to enjoy buffet style.

Children would be scattered on the floor eating or sleeping,
& adults all over any furniture that was in the house.
It was not uncommon to see 6-8 people all over the sofas.

Gathering together from dawn until dusk, every weekend.

Once the weeks of December 21-Jan.7 came around there was many a day, spent all together. Our main celebrations for Christmas were spent in Salmon Arm. Our Thanksgivings (October & November) were the time to travel. Every year it was a different location. My favourite times were travelling to visit Grandparents, where my Uncles would also join us.

When we were little it was a rare occasion.

The smells
Oh the traditions
& knowing what to expect never changed.

As a Mom now myself, I knew what to prepare my children
& Husband for, each time we made the trek to their gorgeous part of the country.

Even though I didn't have a lot as a child, I always knew that my parents spent a lot of time preparing, growing and hunting for our food each year. They spent a lot of time preparing meals.

I learned to make up recipes at a young age and found especially baking to be so fulfilling. I knew my family would enjoy any treats that I made. They were delicious & inviting.

Christmas was the perfect time to practice all that I had learned, and I spent many hours baking and filling the counters with cookies, cakes and crisps from our harvested backyard orchard.

As much as I craved the time to share, I also really grasped the feeling at this time of year of hope. Hope that they loved me for who I am and all that I could be.

Every year the smells of evergreen would fill our home and after each snowfall the warmth of the familiar smell was in the air during our daily outdoors chores.

I can remember finally cutting down a tree one Year. We were visiting my Grandparents. I must have been about 7 years old at the time. My Uncle took me into the forest and we found a robust tree. Shaking off the snow hours later, cold and proud, we arrived at the front door ready.

That was the only present I had really wanted to give, to be able to cut one down and decorate it with our handmade ornaments and many bubbling lights.

We had so much fun decorating the tree. I now know we must have decorated that tree every day until Christmas. On Christmas eve after dinner I decided we needed to put more presents under the tree, so we found some empty boxes and wrapping paper.

In each box I would put a note in so it wouldn't be empty.
When we came out to put the presents under the tree there were surprises waiting from Santa. There were toys and new clothes just for us. We knew that our Grandparents had given all the gifts.
& in our joy we never said a word.

I will always cherish the memories I have of my few Christmases that I had as a child with my Grandparents. As I got older and started my own family it became a tradition to always spend at least one day of Christmas celebration with them whether in Alberta or B.C.

This is the first year that they are both gone now.

It is true that some of the fondest memories started when we were children that we have now each year. In the preparation of the Christmas meal, baking, the handmade ornaments, the tree, the songs, and the many friends to celebrate with our family.


just sayin' said...

:) I love Christmas too! Look forward to spending maybe even just a little with you and your family!

Kmarie said...

I love this post...reminds me of my grandparents. They LOVE christmas. I am sorry this is your first year without them. I can't imagine mine gone yet- it would be devastating at christmas since we are so close:)
Thanks for your thoughts!

42 things said...

What a fabulous write up about such wonderful memories. Thanks hon for writing that all out for us :)

earthforaliens said...

Your love of Christmas (and birthdays and holidays and celebrations in general) may wear off on me yet if you keep framing it as beautifully as this. Thanks hon.