Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmases Long Ago - Events

Many events kept us children busy as anticipation of the holiday season filled the air. School classes decorated windows with festive fare usually cut from construction paper. – snowflakes and Santa Clauses and sleds. In Grade four I can recall painting the classroom windows with poster paint. I was certainly honoured that year as I was selected to paint the central window pane where I painted Santa, his sled and reindeer. A pretty good job of it too!

We would make paper chains by linking together construction paper strips, paper fans and smaller snowflakes which we could then take home  for decoration ... where they were proudly displayed on the Christmas tree ... front and centre!

Christmas concerts were everywhere. At school in the auditorium the atmosphere was festive and gay with the school choir singing and student plays. The lower classes were usually afforded a visit from the jolly fellow himself where he handed out 'tiny' candy canes.

Class skating parties were held on the ice rink. Each school had its own ice rink, properly boarded round and ice quality maintained by the school custodial staff. Parents were usually invited to observe and share in a hot mug of ‘something’ while students played on the ice.

And of course, the same as all towns across Canada, the Christmas parade was an extra special highlight....the first parade in our town was in 1949

I seem to remember hanging on to younger siblings as they jumped up and down trying to keep warm waiting for the parade to begin. Today Christmas parades have become somewhat 'ho hum'; designed to incite excitement in youngsters for the coming Christmas Eve event, the parade usually followed by a vist to a Santa booth and a trip to a hot chocolate emporium.  Way back when, oh about a half a century ago and more .... parades were truly festive events with parents and children alike sharing the excitement on the same level .... it was truly a time to watch your parents become children as they grinned from ear to ear and cheered as loud as any youngster in attendance.  School bands from three district high schools marched in file blaring out Christmas music on instruments (usually somewhat off tune); boy scouts and girl guides riding on floats waving gaily beside a float-mounted Christmas tree or fireplace. The parade usually hosted two or three movable ‘fairytale’ floats; the Christmas story complete with manger and baby Jesus and wise men; and of course Santa Clause himself on a sled with reindeer….. ho, ho ho ing merrinly down the mainstreet. And let me tell you …. I swear our town had the very best Santa ever …. We actually thought he was the real McCoy!

Church youth groups held Christmas concerts where parents dutifully attended watching their offspring perform so brilliantly on stage. I loved the church concert, it was the only place I was allowed to sing; it didn’t matter I could not even hit a sour note, I was allowed to sing along with everyone else!  And, I was always a 'star' shining over Bethlehem ... that's it a white robe holding a silver star.  My only stage debut in life ... a paper star .... reciting some verse from memory. 

And let's not forget the letters to Santa.  We would write our letters to Santa and mail them off and daily run to the radio to hear if Santa read our letter today.  Funny, that, I don't think he ever did!

Events haven't changed that much really, except at the time of my youth each and every one was so extra special; very special "happy" moments that have rung through the years;  I still hear the blaring brass school bands and the carols sung with such gusto and heart.  I guess that's it really.... the events were part of the 'heart' of our Christmas -- the good cheer, happy faces and smiles shared by all .... traditiions that bound a family and community together. 

And at the end of the concert we all went home with a little brown bag filled with an orange and candies! Wow!  I knew we were the luckiest children alive to have that bag. My mother remembered Christmases where the Salvation Army bag was their only Christmas present and the only real orange they saw for the entire year.

P.S.  I'm blowing a horn here with the art work.  This was the first hand made Christmas card I received from my four year old first born.  He said Merry Christmas was too long to write out so M.C. would get the message across!.  Enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post, Ruby. I think we are rapidly losing our traditions or at least replacing that special hand made gift with store bought. Greed has left us with dissappointment if we get an orange and we are not even allowed a Christmas tree in our schools any more! It is officially a "Holiday Season" now, no longer Christmas. Just shopping.