Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Christmas Story

This was a very special time for Joanne, me and our families. Since we just bought our first house everyone was expecting that we would be hosting this year’s family gathering… and we did!!! We all had a great time and enjoyed lots of delicious food, music and conversation.

Joanne’s parents live fairly close, so they came by just for the day. It’s a beautiful, though rather long journey for my family to venture to London, so they stayed for a few days.

I’m not sure who’s idea it was, but suddenly Thursday afternoon my dad, sister and I found ourselves at the top of the tube slide at nearby Boler Mountain – nicknamed ‘The Boler Bump’ cuz it’s not really very high!

After a few runs down the slope we found that the best way to go down the hill was in pairs. This created a very large turning radius for spinning around and around.

There were lots of rubber mats at the end of the run, to help you slow down and stop. They didn’t always help… several times we watched young children reach this stopping zone, they would almost stop and then they would end up sliding back down the hill. There were staff members on sight and when this happened they would run after these rogue tubers to help them stop and to make sure that they got off the course safely.

And then… it was time to get back to the top of the hill to do it again! They had built a moving sidewalk to get you to the top of the hill. You had to focus to keep your balance as this conveyor system was a little bumpy at times!!!

There was a lot of activity on christmas morning, when Joanne’s parents arrived. Our dog, Koly, had to let the whole neighbourhood know that we had company. Packages of food and yummy sweets were being unloaded while Jo’ began preparing a wonderful brunch. She made a huge batch of pancakes loaded with blueberries that we had picked ourselves, last summer, at a nearby farm.

Sharing these moments together is what really makes this time of year special for all of us. You won’t find any of us at shopping malls buying presents for each other – we stopped doing that many years ago. The few presents that we do exchange are more personal – mostly hand made – and they don’t make things like that in China!

This is a pencil drawing that my mom created for us. It was inspired by a photo that my mom took a few hours after Joanne and I got married, in July. We had returned to the cottage we had rented, changed into our regular clothes and left our dress clothes hanging in one of the bedrooms. My mom thought that this simple collection of our wedding outfits, hung up, looked full of expression and she became inspired to create this very personal present for us. Jo’ and I both love it and we’ll be finding a special place to hang it very soon!

You’ll notice one christmas card with a picture of a young boy holding a goat. Inside the card we read that by purchasing this card, our friends who had bought it for us, had also supported a food initiative in a country not as wealthy as ours. Three packets of seeds will be sent to a developing nation to help provide food for a family. Somehow presents of this nature seem more meaningful and giving and they fill me up inside.

Joanne and I tend to try to stray away from the Santa Claus themes and religious themes associated with this time of year. Sure the stories of ol’ Saint Nick are kinda funny, I’m a huge fan of The Grinch and his voyage to discover the capacity to feel love in new and surprising ways and they make me laugh, but somehow I can’t seem to understand all the misleading stories that we entice our children with. Religion – well that’s a ‘blog series’ in itself and I’m not going there today! Ha! Probably never go ‘there’ – I try not to talk about something that I know little about. Now – how my spirit feels, the joys I embrace with my heart and the fun adventures I experience with Nature are things that I do know a lot about…

What Jo’ and I do enjoy, in the way of seasonal icons, are snowmen! Ummmm… maybe I should say snowpeople!!!! The thought of the spirits of ‘love’ and ‘joy’ coming to life in creations made of snow just puts a silly smile on my face.

This was our presents display and you can see that it did not take up very much room, as we don’t do a lot of gift giving. There are a couple of boxes of chocolates, locally made and distributed out of Stratford – about 40 km away, a mug filled with assorted flavours of hot chocolate, some herbal teas, a big tin of caramelized popcorn that was bought to support the local Boy Scouts of Canada, and the small gift bags were filled with handmade winter hats and placemat settings for our dining room table from Jo’s mom.

The few gifts that we do buy are usually locally manufactured items that help our local economies – things that can be shared when family is visiting to make our time together enjoyable.

I wish that I had the photos of my dad wearing his handmade winter toque, to show you. He wore it around the house all day… “It keeps my bald spot warm!” – LOL!!!

This is a photo of where we did all of our feasting. Since we’ve just moved in, we don’t have a lot of furniture, so we tried to make this room comfortable by hanging some of my artworks on the wall. The placemats that Joanne’s mom made, are in the bottom of the photo. The ‘wine’ colours are very nice and the stitchwork (that you can’t see) is really funky and full of life.

And soon, it was time for a light lunch. Last time Jo’s mom came to visit she had brought with her a very large Butternut Squash that had been grown in her friends garden this year. I love the delicious soup that Joanne makes with these squashes and that – along with some bread and sliced pears – became our afternoon meal.

Everyone was more than generous with their offers to help in the kitchen, but as I’m sure you can imagine a few, “Too many cooks in the kitchen!” announcements were made as Joanne and I kept busy with all the washing of the dishes!!!!

I don’t have the greatest camera in the world and with all the different intensities of light, flashes, etc I found it hard to get a focused picture of our feasting. But… I thought that I would share this ‘spirited’ pic anyway. It just seems to capture the essence of friends and family enjoying a festive meal – with all the movement and energies that we all bring to the dinner table.

After deserts and an initial quick clean of the dinner table I thought that it would be a nice thing to fill the air with a bit of homegrown music. I got out my guitar and played just two songs. The second song I performed was an instrumental and you can enjoy this by linking to my youtube account - . I’m steadily working on a video for the first song, but I can share the lyrics with you here and now…

What The World Needs Now

What the world needs now
Is a new kind of breath
Not the sweet kiss of death
But a time to be best.

What the world needs now
Is a dream without end
There’s no thoughts of revenge
When everybody’s a friend.

You know
We’ll have to rely on our instincts
Our future
Doesn’t come with a well laid plan.
We’ll have to rely on our instincts
When we make our stand
Against the lie of the land.

What the world needs now
Is the will to believe
That one heart pounds the beat
For our army of peace.

What our army needs now
Is the will to be strong
You know
There’s never a wrong
When your heart is a song.

You know
We’ll have to rely on our instincts
To break the chains
The chains that hold us back.
We’ll have to rely on our instincts
You know we’re never down
Even when the odds are stacked.

Jim Kogelheide
Summer 2008

So… our first official family dinner in our new home was an enormous success. The food was tremendously great, the company was superb and the spirit that surrounded us all was enlightened!!!

I’m sure that everyone who was present would agree that Joanne’s efforts more than entitled her to ‘The Woman of The Hour’ award. I would have suggested ‘woman of the day’, ‘year’, or even ‘lifetime’ but I didn’t want it to go to her head!!!!

Laughing Out Loud (and unable to stop!!!!) – ha! That’s for you Pat :P !!!!!!


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