Home Isn’t A Place, It’s A Feeling
By Norma Galambos
With the festival season upon us, thoughts of Christmas’ past come flooding back to me. Taking a moment to remember those Christmas celebrations on the farm in Saskatchewan gives me a warm, peaceful feeling.
The holiday season at our house began with a trip to the woods to chop down a tree. This was in the late sixties and early seventies when everyone had a real tree. Some years Dad would take my brother and me along on the hunt. I recall trudging through the bush in waist-deep snow in the pursuit of the perfect tree. We only got the tree a few days before Christmas but hounded Dad about it for weeks in advance.
When we arrived back home with our find, Dad gently carried the snowy tree into the kitchen, then through the dining room and into the sitting room leaving a trail of wet needles. The tree would assume its rightful spot in the corner sitting in a red and green tree stand with screws that held the trunk in place. The stand had a dip in it that held water to keep the tree from drying out too quickly.
The smell of a natural tree in your house at Christmas time is something you never forget. Mom would decorate it with lights of assorted colors, garland, and delicate frosted and handmade ornaments. A layer of long silver tinsel was carefully placed strand by strand on each branch and an angel graced the top of the tree.
Mom had her Christmas Day dinner at one o’clock sharp every year. She never deviated from her plan. The in-laws had to plan their schedules around it. Rich creamy eggnog was served with a splash of rum. She roasted a turkey and stuffed it with the most amazing dressing that she made by grinding up a pork roast and adding bread, onions, butter, and spices.
The image of the silver metal meat grinder clamped to the seat of a wooden chair in Mom’s kitchen is stuck in my mind. We would take turns turning the crank. She also served ham, cranberries, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade buns, salads, and vegetables. Christmas pudding covered in hot maple sauce and topped with a generous serving of cream finished the meal off in fine style.
Each year there was a different group of my siblings, their spouses, and children that made it out to the farm for Christmas. A few years all five of us and our families were there, those were special times. For over fifty years, Dad’s sister, Martha and her husband Otto came to the farm to spend the day with us.
Some of the family would disperse in the afternoon to feast again with their in-laws and some stayed at the farm for supper.
In the afternoon we snacked on hard candy, oranges and the sound of nutcrackers could be heard after people rummaged through the wooden nut bowl for the best nut to crack. My sister-in-law brought many amazing homemade goodies to the farm from their home in Alberta including fudge, baking of all kinds, punch, and chocolates. My brother-in-law made the best poppycock I have ever tasted.
Before the new year arrived, the tree was once again drug through the house, this time being much more generous with the shedding of its’ needles. It was unceremoniously thrown in a snowbank for later disposal. A few strands of tinsel, now considered retro, still clinging to its dry branches. The tree was carried into the house like a king in a sedan chair but was thrown out like a pauper.
My wish is that you have a merry Christmas filled with peace, friendship, and love.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR –
Norma Galambos is a blogger, podcaster, freelance writer and entrepreneur. Her blog, Grandma G – My Journey Into Retirement features stories about growing up on the Canadian prairies, adult life, and retirement.