By Craig Funston
There is no question in my mind that my happiest Christmas memories as a family man were years ago in BC’s interior. I could break down the previous statement to emphasize that it was a specific stage in life, a specific season of the year and specific place in the West.
Right now, I’m busy listening to Andy Williams, Anne Murray, and Bing Crosby, among others, singing their Christmas carols, and if that doesn’t put me into a Christmas mood, I don’t know what else could. Maybe the big fat guy who hasn’t shaved for weeks, wearing his boots inside the house, and drinking what we trust is Coke, might do it.
But myths just don’t do it like the real thing, although you might say Coke is “the real thing.”
So with the music wafting through the air, taking me back to yesteryear, I am in a pensive mood. This column is giving words to those reflections.
What does a “Christmas in the Cariboo”–specifically, 100 Mile House (scene of that horrific fire this past summer)– look like? How does it qualify as the “real thing”? Well, simply put, it looks like a winter wonderland, with lots of trees and snow. And the mood in the community was always very Christmasy (a real word, Maurice).
That’s “trees,” as in those tall green things; and “snow,” as in that fluffy white stuff. It would be nice that that Cariboo Christmas out here sometime.
Because we have always been away from family at Christmas, we try to include other families who are alone. I recall one Christmas when we had our neighbours over; the snow was so impassable, they came over in their snowshoes.
Sledding with the kids, building snowmen, and cross-country skiing were the norm there, though I passed on the skiing part. They even had the annual Cariboo Marathon, and probably still do.
Another memory is getting my own Christmas tree right off the land. Often it was right off the different acreages that I owned or rented. I thought it was fun, though it wasn’t for the kids I took out with me into the bush.
I still get a live Christmas tree from an acreage, but it’s now from someone else’s land (aka tree farm in the Kootenays), and I buy it through an outlet that rhymes with Home Depot. There is something really nice about the fresh smell of a six-foot Scotch pine. But then again, there’s nothing really nice about the shedding needles that mess up the floor. There’s real joy in putting it up, but real relief in taking it down.
Christmas is for kids and lovers, a line I’ve used in this space before. And that was the part of the specific family life season I referred to in the first paragraph. Back in those days, we had just four kids (with five more added over the years), so our family wasn’t all that big, but big enough and young enough to make Christmas really fun.
These days my wife and I are at the stage where we’re scrambling to have some family home for Christmas, what with kids scattered right across the country—Halifax (2), Edmonton, Kamloops, Kelowna, Langley, and Milk River. At the point of writing, we’ll have only two home for the Grand Day, although some are coming early in the New Year.
It’s not all bad, though: More egg nog and white meat for the old man.
Christmas is a time for family, a comment I made last week. Every day should be about family, to be sure, but between the cards and carols, gifts and greetings, trees and traditions, Christmas is the most poignant time for the family to get together. It’s the laughter and the memories, the down time, and change of schedule that makes it so special. There is no better time or place to chill in December.
If all goes according to Hoyle, this column should come out just after Christmas. I trust you had a good one, and garnered plenty of memories from the good times.
Please don’t let anyone take away reason of the season, even if you’re not overtly “religious.” You have to wade through the cultural morass to get down to the bare facts of history: the magi (astrologer-kings) from the present-day Iraq region and the census from Augustus Caesar, for starters.
It did really happen and there really was a special birth. When history and theology mesh—and they usually do– that is very good.
And as I said more or less to you last week, all the best to you and yours from me and mine.