A simpler Christmas

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I was born in St. John’s in the early ’50s, so my childhood memories of Christmas are from that time frame. My family was not well off and it was a struggle for my parents to raise us. But as I reflect on those memories,we were rich in so many other ways.

I don’t know how they managed to do it but I had the most wonderful Christmases. It was a magical time of year.

Who can forget the raffles on Water Street or the men who went around in their trucks selling Christmas trees? My mother would have them take just about every tree off the truck before she found the biggest and most perfect.

Everything in the house had to be stripped down. Curtains and walls washed, a piece of new canvas for the kitchen. The house had to be spick-and-span.

My mother’s fruit cakes, light and dark, were delicious. Whenever you visited someone you always got fruit cake and syrup. Before my mother passed away, she gave me the cast iron cake pot but I have never attempted to bake the fruitcake. All such precious memories.

We always had new pyjamas to be worn on Christmas Eve. If we had a new coat or any other new clothes they were worn Christmas Day when we went to mass at St. Teresa’s on Mundy Pond Road. You would see all the children walking to mass sporting something new if they were fortunate enough.

And our Christmas stocking, now that was a treasure in itself. I went to a Catholic school where we wore the long black stockings. This is what we hung up. It was filled with fruit and other treats but the one thing I remember most was the grapes. It was the only time of year we got them.

We watched all the special movies on TV. The ones I remember most are “Heidi” and “The Poor Little Match Girl.” Classics in themselves.

I am writing this article to remind myself and others who share the same memories, of a time that will never be again.

So for those of you whose parents have passed away, as mine have, take this Christmas season to remember them in a special way because they gave us more then they ever realized. Love and cherished memories. I was one of the fortunate ones.

To you Mom and Dad, Merry Christmas.

Marjorie (Vavasour) Seymour

Pickering, Ont.

Organizations: Catholic school

Geographic location: Water Street, Mundy Pond Road

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  • NL TURF
    December 21, 2012 - 21:57

    I remember I used to get a rosy red apple at the bottom of my stocking each year. Most Moms were stay at home Moms and looked after all the kids and all the household chores!! The Father was the bread winner, and around our neighbourhood on Pennywell Rd. we certainly were not well off!!.The kids played outside during Christmas - new tobaggans,sleds,and even new pieces of shiney cardboard from off some huge Christmas gift , were all flying down over the hill, at Prince of Wales Field on Linscott Street. The snowforts and snowfights were a large part of Christmas and we used to come home with frozen mittens, red cheeks and a smile on our faces!! Yep, always outdoors!! Memories of those times were awakened by your letter, Marjorie!! I thank you!! A plate of 15 teens at Marty's "Leo's" with lots of malt vinagar and ketsup were to die for!! Thanks again for awakening the best memories of my life!!

  • Ron Tizzard
    December 20, 2012 - 10:31

    Thank you Marjorie. That was a very good 'recall'. I was able to relate to the sentiment and energy release in those younger days...personally however, I must take the 5th. on the long black stockings. Thank you for sharing. Yes, for many families money was scarce, but somehow, magically, parents didn't let it matter, and we didn't care. In many respects, into adulthood, the recall of Christmas these decades later, for me, have seemed to seep back to the very many challenges (financially) too many families had to face and conquer for the kids. Once a year, for many years, parents seemed to make ends meet. These were simpler times for children, as the 'times' were simpler, not different...just simpler, is my sense. Parents struggling to make Christmas the best ever for their children this year...don't work too hard, don't overspend....children are just happy anyway. In a very special way, I think kids (as we were, one time) were just as happy with what we received, but as adults on reflection the magic of Christmas for all kids was the toys (of course), simplicity, and the occasion of a heightened intimacy of time spent with HAPPY PARENTS, FRIENDS AND RELATIVES. The fixation on a special time,.. it seemed to just happen...magically. (that said, in the context of all things being equal...i.e. in too many famiies, or in too many instances the reality of life rolls itself out with it bumps and aches....). It's in those times that friends carry one another...and, that's where the true, purposeful spirit, the up-lift of Christmas most thrives....offering up succor for those who experience challenges to recognize joy and happiness for a myriad of reasons. Be happy, be well, be safe.

  • SLR
    December 20, 2012 - 06:40

    Thanks for sharing! I remember hearing all these stories from my Grandparents and even my parents...a great step back in time indeed!