Charity should begin at home, but should not stay there. ~ Philip Brooks
You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. ~ Anonymous
A good laugh is sunshine in the house. ~ William Makepeace Thackeray
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As most of you are aware, I was a farm kid and growing up on a farm wasn’t always fun. But when fun was had, it was definitely memorable! As this Christmas season is quickly nearing the day of celebration, I thought that I would also share some of my farm memories.
My dad always had a team of horses, mainly for doing chores. They were used for cleaning out the barn with a rack full of manure, hauling water from the pump house to the other barns of animals around the farm yard, and cleaning the yard after a snow fall. It was rare that there would be ‘fun’ attached to those horses and rack! But, at this time of year, I can remember being part of a Canadian Girls in Training group (CGIT), and for our Christmas party we hosted this group of girls for a sleigh ride. Dad would switch from the wagon with wheels to the wagon with sleighs in the winter to make the pulling easier for the horses when they were doing their usual chores. Then this sleigh would be used for ‘fun’ in the off hours. The night of our party was, well, a usual Manitoba winter night. COLD, CRISP, and CLEAR! Of course, I say without judgement, the girls from town don’t always know how to dress for the weather, and so the rides where short for some of them! But for those of us that knew how to dress, we had a lot of fun sitting on the bales of straw, singing Christmas carols and listening to the sleigh bells ringing. “Just hear those sleigh bells ringing and jing-ting-ting-a-ling, too. Come on it’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you.” I know I just got you singing!
Our farm also raised a lot of animals which provided food on our table. I never once was concerned that we were eating ‘Daisy’! In the fall, we would kill the ducks and geese that had been raised from ducklings and goslings. Those two birds are what blessed our Christmas dinner table. I didn’t realize that turkey was the traditional meal until we stopped raising them. A few years ago, with the invention of the TurDuckin (my brother got one), it brought back some memories eating that dark duck meat.
Our Christmas Day celebrations would start in the morning after the chores had been done, and last until the last man was standing, weather dependant (if it was storming everyone that ventured out would be sent home before dark). We always had family and friends in for dinner and then the rest of the day was spent playing cards and other games. A few of the guests may have enjoyed a few drinks of the spirits and the games would become a bit rowdy. Especially the game of crokinole, if you have played that game you will know that the shooting of the checkers between the posts to the centre hole can be frustrating, and painful on the finger doing the shooting. I can recall checkers flying in all directions and it becoming a game of war!
Our farm also had a skating rink, complete with lights and homemade goalie nets. Many family, friends, and relatives in the area, of all ages, would gather to play a good old game of hockey. Learning to skate on that rink was always an adventure, as when the temperature increased or decreased the ice would melt or shift or crack. After the youngsters had an evening outside on the rink, we would all head inside to consume the Christmas goodies. Mom would have been baking for weeks in advance including; sugar cookies, tarts, Nanaimo squares, Scottish shortbread, macaroons, gingerbread men, and of course Christmas cake. The day of the party she would be been busy making buns for the snack in the evening. No one ever left our place without their bellies full.
Thinking back on those memories, it just seems like it was such a simpler time. We just made time to visit and fellowship with our family and neighbours. Now-a-days, it seems like a chore to schedule time to do the things that mean the most in the end. I trust everyone can take some time this Christmas season to remember the reason for the season. I hope you make wonderful, lasting, memories with your friends and loved ones.