Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nostalgia---A Jones Country Christmas

Every year as the Christmas season comes around, I find nostalgia overtaking me. Memories of Christmases long since passed flood my mind with warm & fuzzy feelings, and as hard as we try, once we are grown up, nothing can seem to completely recapture that feeling we would get as a little child, as we would attend the Christmas parties, concerts, church services, and, of course, wake up on Christmas morning to stockings & presents under the tree. Christmas becomes different; looks different, as we marry & have our own families & create our own traditions, often drawing from the very ones our parents held to.
Christmas on the Jones country farmstead always provokes feelings of joy within me. There were a few brown Christmases, but for the most part, our Christmases were white with snow, as they should be.
I remember my excitement would begin when they would light the first advent candle in the Baptist church I attended. THEN I knew that Christmas was only a month away! However, a month goes by a lot slower for a small child, than for an adult! With each passing Sunday, we'd get closer to the white center candle, which would be lit on Christmas eve.
There would be Christmas parties in the elementary school I attended. They were always fun, with gift exchanges (through drawing a name out of a hat) & lots of sweets & Christmas music! Best of all, no school work! That last day before Christmas vacation was so exciting! The school Christmas concert was wonderful, as well. I remember starring in one of the productions. I also remember singing traditional Christian songs, which, back then, were not yet forbidden. God was still allowed in schools.
There would be our church Christmas concert as well. Usually, there'd be a play of the Nativity. I remember one year, being an angel in an AWANAS Christmas concert. Because we were involved in so many church & youth group programs, there were no lack of parties & concerts. I also sang either a solo, or a duet with my mom at the Christmas eve services. I was always so nervous!
Every year, we would go Christmas caroling with the church. I immensely enjoyed that! We would visit shut ins & also the old folk's home. I remember we would visit with one lady in particular after wards, & I would sit & gaze at her beautiful artificial Christmas tree with all of the fancy ornaments on it.
When it came to our Christmas tree, it was usually one that was off our farm; always real. We would put it up maybe a week before Christmas. Mom would put the lights on, her set of sentimental breakable ornaments on up high, & the star, then she would allow me & my brothers to decorate the rest. That's why our tree never looked professionally done. Oh, but it was done with love! Mom would hang the mistletoe over the doorway leading from the kitchen to the living room, & she also had these glittery silver bells she would hang. I loved playing with the Santa & reindeer decorations she had. The music of the season was Joan Baez, Evie & numerous others. Let's not forget Alvin & the Chipmunks!
I loved the candlelit service at church. We'd all hold a lit candle & sing "Silent Night". So magical!
Christmas eve would come, & we would attend church. I loved that part. We would sing traditional carols, hear a short sermon, then head home & pray the night would go fast & Christmas morning would come!
My brother, Chris, would usually sleep in my room, since I had a vent in my floor, which was just a hole with bars across it, about 6"x12". Right below it, Mom would hang out stockings on the mantel, & we would try to peek down the hole & see what was in our stockings! Kids, eh? My brother, Geoff always seemed to have a bit more restraint than us.
Christmas morning would arrive. We would dash down the stairs, still in our pajamas & go for our stockings. Mom would always put the 3 pack of mini cereals in our stockings, so we'd have a treat of "junk" cereal we never got any other time of the year, such as Fruit Loops & Corn Pops. We had to eat that before we could eat any of the other "junk".
Once we were all up, we'd gather around the Christmas tree, & Dad would start handing out the gifts. I would wait until I had them all, before opening them one by one. I also liked to stop and watch my family member's faces as they opened gifts from me. I would usually buy Mom bath beads & Dad, chocolates.
After unwrapping our gifts, with the many "oohs" and "ahhs" and "thank yous", my brothers & I would go off & play with our new toys. Mom would get ready for our Christmas dinner. It'd be a lazy relaxing afternoon. I would go up into my room & go off into another world with my new toys created by my vivid imagination.
Dinner would be turkey, potatoes, gravy, stuffing & vegetables. Mom would bring out the fancy plates & dishes. The kitchen would always be so toasty warm after Mom using the large stove's oven to cook the turkey (which I still remember was a real pain in the behind to use!).
That is the Christmases I grew up with. And this year, for the first time since 1995, I am going to spend Christmas on the Jones homestead with my family. I am excited! Christmas has never been the same for me since I moved out of my parent's house, but to see the joy on my child's face as he looks in awe at the Christmas lights, & the delight as he unwraps his gifts, I grow excited at the prospect of making Christmas as memorable & beautiful for him as my parents did for me.
Lest we forget what Christmas is about. All pagan roots aside, Christmas is an excellent reminder of Jesus & how God sent Him into the world to save it because He loved His creation so much. Christmas is about the most perfect gift of Love there ever was. So as I share my memories of my Christmas past, I am especially grateful & thankful that my parents shared with me the reason for the season: Jesus Christ.
Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, August 13, 2010

PEI Getaway

Since my husband is self-employed, & hadn't any work lined up for a few days, we decided to take a weekend to visit Prince Edward Island, since it's only about an hour & a half to the Confederation bridge from our home. My husband has never had a vacation in his entire life, so this was especially nice for him.
I find the Confederation Bridge truly amazing. I'm in awe as I look at its long expanse & look out over the vast waters, with nothing seen on the horizon. I remember thinking, 'Wow! Nothing but water as far as the eye can see! Must have looked much like this after the flood of Noah's time.' I had been across the bridge a couple of times before, but it was still so amazing to me.
Upon crossing the bridge, there is a small community called "Bordon-Carleton", a quaint place with lots of small shops for tourists. However, we kept on going, heading to the B&B we would be staying at for a couple of nights.
The B&B was just a couple of rooms in someone's home; very nice & private. We discovered the woman who ran it is a Christian, just as we are, so we knew it was a God-ordained place to stay! It was nestled in the country, between Cavendish & Charlottetown---two spots I was especially interested in visiting.
That evening, we drove into Charlottetown & ate some of the world's best ice cream...that is their slogan, & I would easily believe it! I had plain chocolate, & it was udderly divine! Yum. My husband & son are both ice cream addicts, so they really enjoyed it as well.
It's never easy sleeping in a "strange" place, as well as having our son in our room. I had broken sleep, yet was raring to go by morning.
I'm an Anne of Green Gables fan, so I was extremely excited to go see Green Gables, & where Lucy Maude Montgomery was inspired to write the Anne series. It proved to be pretty cool! We got to walk the "lover's lane" & the "haunted wood" as mentioned in the books---fiction works, yet inspired by real places. We also saw the site of Lucy Maude's home & walked the short cut she used to take to church.
Of course we had to do the traditional "wearing of the Anne hat". I just prayed there was no cooties or lice in the much used hats. haha
As much as I enjoyed that, my favorite time was just walking the streets of downtown Charlottetown with my men; sight-seeing. No real destination. No hurry. There are so many historic buildings there, where it is where the Father's of Confederation met & Canada became a fact. Tourists filled the streets, as well as the occasional busker. Of course, we had to get more Cow's ice cream. I had hubby boost me up on the cow, and in front of a bunch of people who were there for a free concert, I posed like a fool on top of the cow. Did I mention I will never grow up?
Much of the vacation was simply spent relaxing. My husband cooked a wonderful meal, all on a barbecue! Shrimp, fresh veggies....
It was an amazing time had with my family. It's not something we have ever really gotten to do, & I can only imagine that my boy will look back on this & not soon forget it. I know I won't. PEI is a beautiful, friendly place, with twisty turny back roads, clay colored earth, & wonderfully fresh air.
It's hard returning back to "real life" after having a vacation. If only everyday were such an adventure. I guess it's all in one's perspective. I should probably be changing mine. :s
So if you ever have an opportunity to visit PEI, Canada, I totally recommend it! Even if you aren't an Anne fan, there is so much to do & see! Just bring a lot of money if you have kids!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fixin' to go home

This is my first post on this site. I wasn't sure what exactly I was going to do, but I think, instead of my usual way of blogging, I'd just simply share my life, with the hopes that some of the stuff I go through, will help others to know they aren't alone, & to know there's always "light at the end of the tunnel."
So I'm fixin' to head home to where I grew up tomorrow (Annapolis Valley, NS) . My mom is making the 6 hour drive today to bring me and my 4 year old son home with her, tomorrow, just in time for Dad's 70th birthday on Canada Day (the 1st). There's always a great excitement for this annual trip. I admit the nostalgia is rather nice. But there's a lot of sadness as well, because my hometown has changed so much since I grew up there. A military base closed when I was going into grade 8, which changed the area almost overnight. That old base has become something altogether different in look and feel. The place is "dead" except for in the summer, since it's a tourist hot spot, being the oldest established settlement in Canada, in 1605 (Annapolis Royal). Most of the people I grew up with are long since gone. Trees have grown up, and the forest thickened. I scarcely recognize the paths I used to traverse as a child. And the biggest sadness for me, as silly as it sounds, is the maple tree on the front lawn; the one my brothers & I used to play in---our dad & his siblings before us played in----It had to be cut down because it was dying. All that remains is a tall stump that my father has planted Clamatas around. It looks so different, and where it's in the front yard, it's an ever present reminder of how things change. Whether we like it or not, they change. Not always for the better.
We can't hold on to childhood forever. Part of growing up is seeing that things do change. It's a natural part of life....and death....
A friend of mine was killed in a car accident very recently. We hung around in high school. He was such a sweet & funny guy! I will visit the place where he was killed. I will remember him. Things change. It's sad when it's things like that.
So tomorrow I leave to return to my hometown. I know I will enjoy myself, yet there will be that ever present feeling of loss---loss of something I can't get back; time; the past. My son will only know Nanny & Grampy's place as it is now--not as his mother knew it. Only through pictures will he see it, and exclaim, "Wow! It used to look like THAT?" With tears in my eyes, I will nod....and he will not understand those tears in my eyes....