Eatonia, SK. S0L 0Y0
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE MAIN INVENTORY OF SPEARGRASS BOOKS IS TEMPORARILY INACCESSIBLE AND SPEARGRASS SPECIALTIES CANNOT BE CONTACTED BY TELEPHONE. DURING MY UNAVOIDABLE ABSENCE FROM EATONIA, SOME BOOKS I HAVE WRITTEN ARE AVAILABLE FROM SASKBOOKS, BENCHMARK PRESS, DRIVER WORKS INK, EATONIA HERITAGE PARK AND SAGEBRUSH STUDIOS.
The Ghosts of Christmas Past
Like circus barkers, the hawkers of the electronic media have been unleashed to peddle their wares. The annual trivialization of one of the world’s great religions has begun. A hedonist society has turned Christmas into a carnival.
This morning I sat in an ornate dining room watching the morning sun burnishing the peaks of the mountains. I am a flat lander. I am out of place. When my wife came to Calgary and the safe place a daughter and her family could give her, I followed. We have been together for over 65 years. Whatever time we have left to be together is infinitely precious.
I am too old to go Christmas shopping. I have no desire to give or receive any material thing. What I want, and still have, is the unspoken assurances of love. They are warmth in the cold of winter.
Every Christmas Eve, I sort through memories, rejecting the baneful ones and re-living incidents where I received the gifts of understanding, affection, support and laughter. I remember that on the first Christmas Eve after the Second World War ended and my father turned on the radio to hear the bells of London ringing. He burst into song, caressing each note in a rich tenor voice. He departed long ago to sing in a heavenly choir.
In the bitter years of the Great Depression there were girls who came from the farms to help overburdened housewives in our little town. (They were paid ten dollars a month, half of which was a government subsidy to the employer.) I remember that when my mother heard that one of them would spend Christmas Day alone, she invited her to share in our festive dinner.
I remember my grandmother’s Christmas cake. Granny was of the generation of women who lacked a formal education, but she carried recipes and wisdom in her head. She shared her culinary secrets with my aunt. The cake recipe required two bottles of stout which I was to procure without my mother’s knowledge. (My mother was a dedicated member of her own Anti-saloon League.)
I remember on a day after Ukrainian Christmas a statuesque Ukrainian girl entered the old wooden curling rink. My friend David was immediately entranced by her appearance. She pushed his amorous buttons. He applied to a young Ukrainian gentleman for Ukrainian words of greeting which would charm her. The young man was eager to instruct him. David was a fast learner. With smile, he took the words to the girl he wished to charm and unloaded them. She responded by knocking him down, sitting on him and pummeling him unmercifully. The Ukrainian gentleman laughed. I laughed. I know the fateful words but don’t know what they mean. I will never use them within the hearing of a beauteous Ukrainian.
Treasured in my memories is Kathleen S. Moore, whom everyone called Kelly. She was the primary room teacher who first taught me Christmas carols. She also taught me to discover my inner self and what I could become. I can still conjure up her voice and her throaty laughter. The bond between us continued for the rest of her long life. Late one night, when death seemed very near, she called me on the telephone to say goodbye.
So many people who gave me understanding and support are my Christmas ghosts. Prominent among them are the musicians and singers who helped me to learn the magic of music that brings happiness and healing. Only one remains. All of them gave me unseen gifts which required no gaudy wrappings.
On Christmas Day I will be with people I love, perhaps for the last time. I will wear the decades-old necktie I was wearing when I first saw the woman who became my wife and thought that she was beautiful.
Copyright ©William Wardill 2018