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Category Archives: Nostalgia
Christmas flyers are out—it’s time to hit the mall! Always a shopping procrastinator, this year I decided to have an early start. So last weekend, we went to Sears, which as you might have heard, is closing.
Sears Canada is not having a dignified ending, rather it’s a dismal affair—the grand old store is embroiled in gossip, showing little goodwill, and displaying behavior that denies its glorious past.
There was lots of warning. Recently, bad press has swirled around Sears Canada. News that it was closing its subsidiary store, KMart, hit first, and then there was the bombshell that its top executives were leaving, always a bad sign.
Two years ago, around this time of year, my sister phoned me with an advance warning that she wouldn’t be sending Christmas cards. I paid attention—after all she is the Emily Post of manners and is always ahead of the curve. But I didn’t follow her example—I wasn’t ready. So for two more years, my bundle of Christmas cards hit the bottom of the mailbox with a hollow thump. Each thump was the sound of a dying industry.
We knew it was inevitable. Post boomer generations have been disparaging the practise for years, undoing a custom established since the mid 1800s.
Why do some experiences become memories, to be savored again and again, while others slip unnoticed into the dark recesses of our minds? It’s a question we don’t often consider as we go about our lives, and it isn’t until later, when we try to recall something, that we realize it might be completely gone.
We had this discussion last week, when my adult children came to Thanksgiving dinner, and the subject of childhood memories came up. As we compared notes, it was clear that each of us had a different ‘take’ on some events we all experienced.
We are experiencing a change of seasons here in the Pacific North West. A few mornings ago, I saw the first sign, a covering of dew on grass that has been as dry as dust for five months. It’s a welcome change for the earth, since the trees and gardens have been craving moisture.
We humans too, can’t help but react. There’s a mild feeling of excitement as we anticipate the events that arrive with winter—more connections with family and friends, more social events, indoor activities like cozying up to the fire, reading new books, going to movies, and of course, Christmas.
For me, reading is magical, and has been a part of my life since I was five years old, when I first started to make sense of the squiggles in the old comic strip, “Annie”
In a previous post, I quoted Alberto Manguel, whose words are so apt, that I will include them again:
“At one magical instant in your early childhood, the page of a book—that string of confused, alien ciphers—shivered into meaning, and at that moment, whole universes opened. You became, irrevocably, a reader.”
I am lying on the bed that I share with my sisters. June is on one side, and April is on the other. We are lying sideways in a row, on our stomachs, with our feet hanging over the side. We each have a book on the bed in front of us, turning the pages with a “whumph” as we read. I am reading ‘Anne of Green Gables’, and I’m just coming to an exciting part about the day Anne dyes her hair and it comes out green. I know it is coming, because June has already talked about it.
It was another perfect day on the farm. My husband Jim, and my children, Andy and Janie, were gone for the day, and I was planning to wallpaper one of the back bedrooms in our 100 year old house.
But just then, I remembered that Lorne, our carpenter, was coming by to finish some plastering downstairs. And Oh, yes, someone called about picking some apples, from the two overladen trees in our front orchard. Hopefully, they would bring their own containers—I didn’t want to be disturbed, no matter what.
It was just another day on the farm. Well, it wasn’t really a farm, we were just pretending it was. The chickens were safely in their yard, the dog was with the kids, and the air was filled with the sound of rustling leaves. So far, everything was going fine. My husband left early this morning, he had a staff meeting, Andy was back from Kindergarten, and now he and Janie were playing outside.
It was October, and our fourth month here. But I wasn’t really counting—only once in a while, when things went wrong. Here, it seemed, it was always one step forward and two steps back.
I decided to be a blonde once. Well, actually. It wasn’t me who decided. It was my hairdresser Maggie’s idea, and I went along.
“Wish I was born with lighter hair,” I complained to her, as she was cutting away, “This dark hair is so harsh.”
“But it’s your natural color”, she said, “It was the way God meant it to be.”
“It doesn’t look like my natural color. Look at my skin. It’s light, like my mothers’. Her hair is lighter, and it looks great on her.”
This week my husband went downstairs to the storage room to bring up our boxes of Christmas tree decorations. It takes real commitment to do this every year. After all, we know what those boxes contain—glass balls without the metal hangers, garlands with last year’s needles still attached, and
messes (I mean masses) of Christmas tree lights carelessly tossed in and destined for a sorting out, (which never happens).
And we’re late, red and green Christmas lights went up on our Parliament buildings across the harbor two weeks ago, the conical imitation trees are already scattered around the city, reminding everyone that Christmas is just around the corner. Not to mention my condo neighbors, who put up their usual display of astoundingly beautiful decorations inside and outside of their unit in late November. But the urgency I feel this year is a little different.
Let’s put aside the hateful political rhetoric that has dominated the news for months. Let’s stop speculating about the fearsome cabinet picks of the new president-elect—especially those who have a hate-based reputation. And let’s stop giving air space to the “fake news” that is currently poking it’s head out of the underground passages of the internet.
After all, it’s the season of peace and goodwill—the season of love. And ultimately, everything we do in preparing for Christmas is for someone we love:
Today marks the three week deadline to Christmas, stores have been clamoring about it for weeks, emotional pressure is building up, and once again, I wonder what I can change to make preparations easier. Two years ago, I edited my Christmas card list, last year I halved my gift buying, this year I’m thinking about not sending parcels—sending money instead. Each adjustment comes with its own brand of guilt and regret.
But change is a constant in the lives of humans, and being adaptable is what keeps us going. This week I heard about an event that makes my minor Christmas adjustments pale in comparison—an announcement about a pilot project bringing driverless cars to Ontario, a province in our country. This is a significant event for me, since I’ve only recently become aware of driverless cars.