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Christmas Wishes

By PJ Martin


The Herald-News


Christmas is just days away and everyone has something they silently wish for. Most people want a little snow to fall to make it feel like Christmas. Others want all their family to come back home to celebrate. I guess my wish is a bit similar to that.

I wish I could go back to Christmas 1969 for just a few days. I would be 7 years old and my grandparents would still be alive. I wish I could sit on the doorstep in my grandma’s kitchen, the wonderful smells of the food cooking on that big wide stove, and watch her darting around making sure everything was seasoned just right.

She was a wonderful cook. She never measured anything, but it still turned out just right. She cooked the old way, with lard or bacon grease. She taught me to make biscuits, churn butter, quilt, and so many other things.

I wish I could ask her again how she makes the meringues so big and fluffy and the pie crusts so perfect. Plus, about a hundred other questions that she never seemed to get tired of answering.

The family would gather at their house and no one would be arguing (not much anyway). It wasn’t a very big house and it didn’t have running water. It sure wasn’t fancy, but they had most of what they needed.

They would go to see the truck vendors at the stock pen in Edmonton and get bananas or oranges and walnuts for the holidays. I loved going with them to see the vendors and what they had brought to sell. That was the farmer’s market back then.

Grandpa would make sure he got English Walnuts for Christmas. He would sit in his platform rocker with his pocket knife, pop them open, and pick the kernels out. (That same pocket knife I carry around now.)

Each year Grandpa would go out on the farm and cut down a cedar tree and hope it was one that Grandma approved of. She would always tell him certain things to look for before he went to find the tree.

They didn’t have many decorations, but they always had an angel on top of the tree. It was heavy and I wondered how it stayed up there. It was made of metal with metal wings and its clothing was yellowed by time.

Everyone used tinsel back then. Grandma would separate the strands and drape them about the branches till the whole tree was glittery. Sometimes I got to help, but now I realize I was probably more of a hindrance than help. The tinsel was full of static and would try to stick to whoever was draping the tree. It wasn’t uncommon to be cleaning months later and suddenly find a lost tinsel strand still hanging around stuck to something.

I spent so much time with my grandparents when I was a child. I miss them both so very much. I’m not sure where all the years have gone. They have flown by and now I’m the grandparent.

In my memory, Christmas wasn’t all commercialized back then. It wasn’t about the money and kids got less and seemed to enjoy it more. Christmas was more about families getting together. It’s really sad how much everything has changed.


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