Friday, December 19, 2014

It's Christmas Time! Nancy M Bell

Hard to believe another year has passed and it's almost Christmas Eve again. As I grow older there are so many memories to sift through. The really early childhood ones from the '50's and '60's. Every Christmas Eve we would pile in the car and drive all around Toronto visiting my dad's sisters who lived there. We lived on the outskirts in West Hill. We usually started in Mississauga at Aunt Joy's, or in Whitevale at Aunt Ola's and then Aunt Gloria and always Aunt Loral's was last. I'm not sure why he planned it that way but it always was. By that time we had surged to a sugar high and were on the down swing. A great time to stock up on sugary treats for the ride home. LOL One year we were pulling in our driveway and Santa--YES SANTA CLAUS!--was walking down the neighbor's driveway. My sister and I panicked and raced into the house and threw ourselves into our bunk beds with our coats and boots still on. Nothing would persuade us to get into PJ's cause Santa was NEXT DOOR! and coming to our house next. I can still recall the frenzy of trying to fall asleep with my heart beating like crazy. Time passed and we grew up and apart. Later memories are of when my own children were young. Putting up Charlie Brown Christmas trees that wouldn't stay upright. One year I got so frustrated I hammered the tree stand to the trunk with 2 inch Ardox nails. (and tied it to the wall for good measure) But time passes on, children grow up and have families of their own and start their own traditions based on the ones they learned as children.
Sometimes I seem to lose the spirit of the season, but only briefly. A walk in the night with the moonlight burnishing the snow and stars bright in the sable sky always bring it back. When we had our own boarding stable in a big old bank barn in Ontario I used to take time every Christmas Eve to spend some time in the warm stable with the yellow light shining from the windows out onto the snow and the cedars whispering in the wind. The sound of horses chewing their hay and the smell of pine shavings and sweet feed calming my soul.

Christmas 2010

My oldest son and his family Christmas 2012 Banff Alberta

Christmas Moon

In 1988 I wrote about Christmas at my small farm in southern Ontario. A Brandy Hollow Christmas I'd like to share it with you here. Wow, just re-typing this here has brought back so many memories.

There is nothing quite like a country Christmas, in this fast paced world it is very few of us who have the chance to live with nature rather than against it. am lucky enough to live on a small farm and experience the joys of working with the land. Recently, we sold this farm and I began to say good-bye to all the little things that are so much a part of living here. Suddenly, I realized that this Christmas 1988 I wouldn't be in my little house in the hollow. Perhaps because I won't be in Brandy Hollow for Christmas I want to share the Christmases we did have here.

The times when the snow blossomed against the living room window and laced the cedar trees, bending the woods under its weight. In the new light of morning the children and dogs make tracks across the virgin blanket of the lawn. The horses when I turn them out blow the snow up in puffs with their snorts and then roll and roll again. I want to share the special stillness there is here after a snow fall and especially a Christmas snow. Last year it came on December 23rd, but it was still a Christmas Eve snow. The sun just catching the top of the cedar and birch in the barnyard and the blue jays and the chickadees already searching for seeds. The gentle hand of the morning air sending sparkles dancing from the delicate fingers of the snow dressed trees. The warm smell of the horses and hay when I step into the barn from the frosty stillness of early morning.

The warm glow of my little living room, the sun coming in the window, a fire in the woodstove and the Christmas tree taking over the room. Every year we re-arrange the furniture so we can fit the tree in and by Christmas morning there are presents under the tree, on the tree, around the tree, and presents spilling across the floor and in front of the hearth as well. The cats just waiting for all that lovely ribbon and paper to be theirs. The lovely peace of Christmas Eve when the children are asleep and us old folks are waiting for Santa and midnight too, to see if the animals will speak to me. Yes, I still believe! The smell of the fire and the flicker of the flames against the walls. Jessie and Josh, the dogs, sleeping on the mat my grandfather made in front of the stove, joined by most of our five house cats. There is that special thrill of anticipation that comes only on Christmas Eve. The warm feeling of the love that goes with the presents. The sharing of joy in giving that special gift. The dark quietness of the night, moonlight throwing blue and silver shadows on the snow as I go out to the barn to tuck the horses in on this most special of all nights. The music of the wind in the trees and the starfire crackling in the stillness as I take a Christmas walk by the pond and take the opportunity to say my own private 'Thank You' to the spirit that created all this wonder.

There is a peace in this farm and always a feeling of love. As though this house and this land have always been blessed. But never is the feeling so strong as at Christmas. Even people who aren't sensitive to their surroundings feel this too. The goodwill seems to pervade the very air. All things find refuge here. Strays find their way to my door, both wild and tame, and human as well as animal. This is a safe place and a healing place. There is that little bit of Christmas Love here all year round.

I think one of the best things about the season is the love, the sharing, the giving. It is the one time in the year we can hug someone without embarrassing them or ourselves. Or kiss someone and say the things we think all year but never find the words or opportunity to share.

This year I'm leaving my little farm and I will miss it terribly. But I will never lose the peace or the love it has given me. And always, I'll have that little bit of Brandy Hollow Christmas in my heart. My Christmas wish for you and yours is that you will know the peace and joy that Christmas brings. An that 'all things wise and wonderful' and 'all things bright and beautiful' will be yours.

I wish you a Brandy Hollow Christmas!