Friday, December 13, 2013

People Not Presents

I am participating in the Write Tribe Blogging Challenge from December 8-14.

Write Tribe

Today's topic is People so I decided to write a poem for a change of pace.

People Not Presents

The Christmas rush is here again
Take a breath and count to ten,
This time of year we lose our way
It makes me sadder than I can say,

Spending too much on so much stuff
Don’t you think we have enough?
Eating until we’re ready to burst
Drinking to quench our endless thirst

Forever searching and feeling a void
No wonder we often get annoyed
Please listen to this Christmas verse
Open your heart and close your purse,

Reach out to others and the world will sing
Don’t you think that’s a wonderful thing?
Love and kindness are better than toys
People, not presents bring Christmas joys.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Music Makes Christmas

I am participating in the Write Tribe Blogging Challenge from December 8-14.

Write Tribe

Today's topic is Music.

I just love the Christmas season. The sparkling colourful lights and decorations are so lovely and the food scrumptious. (BURP! *Loosens belt a few notches*) I love all the rituals and traditions about this time of year.

It’s wonderful to have family and friends spending time together. The world just seems a kinder and happier place at Christmas.

But what really makes Christmas for me is the music.

I sing in a women’s choir, play flute in a concert band, and with my harpist friend. This time of year we are busy doing Christmas concerts at seniors’ residences as well as our main choir concert coming up this week. There is something so wonderful about performing music with others for an audience. They enjoy it and so do we.

Here is a recording of Noel Nouvelet with me playing flute and Sharon and Lyn on harp.
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I love Christmas carols of all kinds, whether it's something sacred like O Holy Night or something secular like Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

It’s all great!

Well, I could do without Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer but to each his own, right?

Music touches something deep inside, connects us and brings such joy. Without music, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas.

What is your favourite Christmas music?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Twas the Night Before Christmas

I am participating in the Write Tribe blogging challenge from December 8-14.

Write Tribe

Today’s topic is Books and I am relating each topic to Christmas. I love the Christmas season so much and this is the time of year when we’re all caught up in Christmas preparations and events. I'm in a Christmas frame of mind!

When I was a kid, my favourite book at Christmas time was “The Night Before Christmas.” I remember I’d read it over and over gazing at the beautiful illustrations of Santa Claus and the reindeer. I’d picture myself as one of those kids snuggled in bed with visions of sugar plums in my head. 

I don’t know where that book is now as I read it so much, it fell apart. I can still remember it vividly in my mind. Looking at some of the vintage book illustrations on Google from the 1950s and 60s reminds me of that book.

The Night Before Christmas is still popular which is pretty impressive considering it was written by Clement Clarke Moore in 1823. Many books have been made, parodies have been written and even some songs as I discovered while looking around on Youtube. Here is one vintage version done by Gene Autry and Rosemary Clooney.

Here is a very retro looking book, similar to the one I would have read back in the 1960's.

Ahhh, such fun to think back on those fun Christmases of childhood and how this book was very special part of my Christmas.

What Christmas books did you enjoy as a child?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Tasty Christmas treats and Some Not So Tasty

Write Tribe

I am participating in Write Tribe's blogging challenge from December 8-14. Today's topic is Food.

What would Christmas be without Christmas sweets? My waist expands an inch or two when I bake the decorated cookies, scrumptious fudge, chocolate brownies and other delicious treats at this time of year.

I make them for gifts and for the boys, you understand.  *Wipes chocolate from mouth.*

Give me the chocolate!

And what about the Christmas treats that we don’t like? They still become part of our Christmas memories.

Candy canes are pretty and so decorative to look at.

They're also good for breaking a tooth. I’ve never liked them much even if they do freshen my breath for those moments under the Mistletoe.

Give me the chocolate!

I remember my mom buying old-fashioned brightly-coloured candies when I was a kid. You know the kind? 

She would pour them into decorative dishes where they would grow sticky and gather dust until April when they were replaced by Easter Candy.

And who can forget the Christmas cake? 

I’d like to forget it. Never did care for the stuff. So dry and heavy and not all that tasty. They do make wonderful doorstops and paperweights though! Besides, you do know where fruitcake comes from, don't you?

Give me the chocolate!  

I’m sure dentists and diet groups rub their hands with glee as we gorge on copious amounts of sugary, fattening concoctions at this time of year.

Whoever heard of healthy Christmas treats? Oh sure, we might eat a Clementine or two in a virtuous moment but it’s the treats we clamour for. We can be good in January.

Give me the chocolate!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Memory of a Very Different Christmas

I am taking part in the Write Tribe's Festival of Words for the week of December 8-14.

Write Tribe

Today's topic is Memory/Memories. I am planning to relate each topic to Christmas since it is the Christmas season.

I have many memories of Christmas but one that stands out in my mind is Christmas 1997 which we spent in Canada’s Arctic region.

That Christmas we were thousands of miles North in the tiny community of Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, located on King William Island in the Arctic Ocean. 

We arrived there in August and were there for the eight long months while Brian worked as an adult education teacher.

As a rugged Canadian, I like it to be snowy and wintery for Christmas, but must admit Gjoa Haven was a bit too wintery for my liking. The brutal Arctic wind and the constant darkness were unlike anything I’d ever experienced.

I was home with my two boys who were two and four at the time. We hardly ever went outside due to the intense cold that could reach -60 C with the wind chill.  Luckily the Inuit kids were friendly and would often visit to play with the boys and do crafts and baking with me. I think their visits helped keep me sane as the cold, isolation and darkness were often overwhelming.

Christmas in Gjoa Haven was definitely not the same as back home in Ottawa. There were no decorated Christmas trees or lights, inside or out. Since Gjoa Haven is above the tree line, it has no trees due to the permafrost. They could have used artificial trees, but the Inuit didn’t seem to embrace the Christmas tree tradition that much anyhow.

They did embrace the other Christmas traditions of feasting, partying and gift giving. They also loved games. Every night for two weeks during Christmas and New Year’s, they would have a feast at the community hall and play competitive type games well into the wee hours of the night. I remember going once just to watch and feeling as if I was in a foreign country.

I admit I felt sad and lonely so far from our families at Christmas time and I missed all the familiar traditions. 

The Non-Inuit teachers tried hard to bring some of the familiar Christmas traditions to that remote Northern town. The school held a Christmas pageant and I got to play flute with the choir. I still remember kids doing a cute skit they made up about Mr. Bean coming to Gjoa Haven.

Everyone lived in houses, had Satellite TV, and were quite familiar with North American culture. It was fascinating to see the Inuit culture evolving with the contrast of the old ways against the new ways. I imagine it’s even more that way today with the improved Internet which was still fairly new back in 1997.

As another Christmas approaches, I think back fondly on that time sixteen years ago. At the time, I was counting the days until our return home. Now I feel lucky that I had the chance to live among the Inuit and experience Christmas in such a different way.

Here are some photos of my sons and a view out to the Arctic Ocean. These were most likely taken in September while there was still light and the Ocean wasn't frozen over yet. I don't have too many outdoor shots from December as you can well understand!