Enjoying the festive season with family and friends has and always will be among the most cherished experiences and memories of our lives. Image courtesy of the Harvey family

REFLECTIONS: Hopefully Christmas will always be the most wonderful time of the year

By Mike Rainone for the News

At the age of six I was really excited to see the snow on the ground when we arrived in the little Town of Ponoka all the way from Surrey, Hemel Hempstead, England in 1948. Although my parents didn’t have much way back then, we finally found a tiny little old house in the Riverside district, where we gathered together our worldly belongings, snuggled up, and looked forward to our first Christmas in Alberta. Still today at the age of 77 I will never forget that wonderful first festive experience in a town that I would proudly call home for over 60 years, where the people were always so very friendly and warmly welcomed us to the community.

Once we got settled a kindly neighbour offered to take us out in his car to find a Christmas tree and to show us the busy stores and sights. Later on one crisp evening he took us for a delightful ride to see all the magnificent sparkling lights and Christmas decorations that magically appeared on every home around each and every corner. Later over at the big Red Brick School in my Grade 1 class the children were telling me about a jolly old gentleman called Santa Claus who would bring gifts to each house on Christmas Eve, but when I got home to tell that exciting story my father told me that when we were in Britain he was known as Father Christmas and that this must be the Canadian version. I was worried when my new friends told me that Mr. Claus will be coming down the chimney with a big bag full of toys, but we only had a smoke stack at our house and I didn’t want to get left out. But everything worked out just fine as I received my very first pair of skates and a hockey stick as well as some yummy candy called peanut brittle. Over the years our little family enjoyed so many new and wonderful experiences in and around Ponoka, meeting countless new friends and neighbours along the way! In the late 1950s we finally got to move into our very own home in Riverside across from the golf course, where we welcomed my brother Peter to the fold. We later moved up to the staff cottages at the Provincial Mental Hospital, where my father worked for over 30 years on the recreation department, then retired and moved to Victoria with our mother in the late 1970s, while Peter and I endeavoured to settle down and live the good life in and around the great Town of Ponoka. Our family will be forever thankful and blessed for those wonderful and eventful years that we were so fortunate to live in this friendly community, and along the way were able to share so many great experiences with countless friends and neighbours of all ages and walks of life.

The grand old traditions of the Christmas season

Who doesn’t love the magical music of the season, whether it be the age old or new carols and songs, along with the country, classic, rock, or hip-hop beat styles and themes? At this great time of the year there are so many delightful concerts and events at schools, churches, halls, and homes all around every spirited community, which have all been blessed with the love, sparkling colours and joy of the amazing festive occasion. It doesn’t matter if we have a real tree, a Charlie Brown special, or one of those flashy store-bought varieties, because they will all look fabulous when we add our own unique magic and personal touch, then top them off with the family treasures and trinkets that have been placed inside and outside each and every home sweet home for many generations. Then there are always the old sweet treats such as candy apples, taffy, fudge, rock candy, and all the rest.

We all love to see the glorious nativity scene, which represents the true meaning of Christmas, and whether it is presented at a concert or is in a sparkling natural setting outside in the snow; the traditional costumes and magic of the event must never be forgotten.

Remember when we used to put real flickering candles on the tree, and when our homes were magically illuminated and warmed on Christmas Eve by kerosene lamps, a pot-bellied stove, and a roaring fireplace, with chestnuts roasting? I am sure there are some who still make their own house and tree decorations, including popcorn strings, coloured crepe paper streamers, all sorts of bobbles, those long boxes of glittering icicles and coloured paper crackers that you pulled apart and giggled when they popped.

Old Fashioned Christmas

By Edna Jacques

I like old-fashioned things at Christmastime … old-fashioned lights and tinsel on a tree,

Red candles lighted in a quiet room, a mother with a baby on her knee.

The smell of cedar in the living room, pinecones with bits of silver on the tips, a holly wreath tied with a scarlet bow, the smell of wax when a tall candle drips.

The taste of mincemeat from a covered crock, brown Christmas cake, muld cider in a jug,

Gay parcels piled under the Christmas tree, warm firelight playing on a crimson rug.

The brown skin of the turkey rich and good, old-fashioned dressing made with sage and bread,

Rich gravy spilling from a golden bowl, and Cranberry jelly glowing bright and red.

The mother with a clean print apron on, dishing the dinner up with happy pride and dad carving turkey … heaping up the plates, laying the wishbone snugly to one side.

I love old-fashioned things on Christmas Day, snow on the ground … a church across the way!

Sincere season’s greetings and blessings to your family from ours, with hopes that you will all celebrate a traditional or modern Christmas in your way with family and friends, as well as sharing the joy with many others at home or around our great community.

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