Christmas was always cold.    There was always lots of snow.  Snow so cold it squeaked when we walked on it. Snow piled at the edges of the skating rink.  High snow banks along the road. Fresh snow to make snow angels.

Through the dark winter nights, sitting close to the hot air register, we listened to radio shows while our Mother knitted sweaters, hats, scarves and mitts.  Some of the knitted items were Christmas gifts and we helped.  Hands held high while Mother rolled hanks of wool into balls for knitting.    When we outgrew our sweaters they were unraveled and re-knitted into heavy warm mitts.

We cut down our own Christmas tree.  North of the city of Prince Albert lays the Great Northern forest.  Traditionally this was a family outing.  It was exciting ploughing threw deep snow to find the perfect tree.  But Christmas 1944 meant war-time gas rationing and no gas for the family car.  Instead older sister Mona and my Father road their bikes  in bitter cold weather road to bring home a tree.  It was several miles to the forest and I remember anxiously watching at the window for their return.

The setting up of the tree took a little time.  A big pail was filled with sand and the tree safely anchored.  Then we had to wait for the tree to thaw out.  The branches were brittle with the cold and snapped easily.  One year to our great delight we found a bird’s nest amongst the branches.


Such excitement to open the box of decorations and bring out our favorites.  There was a pair of celluloid Dutch looking dolls, Hansel and Gretel. We girls thought they were the most beautiful things in the world.  We still have the doll decorations Hansel in Prince Albert with sister Heather, and Gretel with me.

The day this photograph was taken we helped our Father fasten pine boughs around the front door and  threaded Christmas tree lights through the branches.  Darkness comes early in the far north.  To see the coloured lights reflected in the snow was a moment of pure wonderment for us.

Then out of the cold to sit by the warm kitchen fire to drink hot cocoa and eat shortbread  and mince pies and listen to Christmas carols on the radio.








    • I count myself fortunate to have these happy childhood memories. It was a difficult time and money was scarce. So were many products we take for granted today. Everything was focused on the war effort. Virginia

    • Robert Frost is a favorite poet of mine, Tinny. I am honoured. It is at this time of year that the memories almost overcome one with emotion. Our parents endeavored to make Christmas magical. It had nothing to do with spending money for the depression years still lingered. Even as a very young child I realized our Christmases were different than many of my friends and I truly appreciated the fact. XXOO L & V

      • You are so very correct, dearest Virginia. Money and things have nothing to do with happiness or magic. My early Christmases consisted of stockings hung on a pantry door (as there was no fireplace or mantel, just the wood stove) these stockings would be filled with an apple, an orange and small hard candies and nuts. It was divine and it was magic!

  1. What an authentic, close-to-nature holiday compared to many of today’s plastic boughs and frenzied shopping trips to the mall. Such heart-warming memories, and glad you still have Hansel and Gretel!

    • Those childhood influences are still felt today. I have made two wreaths from cedar boughs cut from a tree in my garden. One for myself and one for my friend and next door neighbor. I have yet to shop in a Mall content with what our tiny village has to offer. It keeps Christmas simple.

  2. Thank you for sharing such beautiful memories, Virginia, and what a wonderful photo, too! At the end, I loved this line and the image it conveyed…To see the coloured lights reflected in the snow was a moment of pure wonderment for us. Wishing you a lovely Christmas and New Year!

    • I have a curio cabinet and my half of the Dutch doll that was so important to me as a child – resides safely within. It’s time to Hansel out of safekeeping and hang him on the Christmas Tree. This will be his 74th Christmas. My very wishes for a Merry Christmas and a grand New Year to you and your family. XX Virginia

    • After years of buying Panettone from an Italian Grocery Store – I loved the packaging so much – I finally made it. Now I know what the bread SHOULD taste like. That is if you were in Milan or had a really good Italian bakery. No wonder Italians are so made for it.

  3. You were fortunate indeed to have experienced Christmas in such lovely, magical surroundings bound together with love! I can tell that you have never lost the spirit and wonder of the holiday! Peace and love to you this season. How far we have come from 1944!

    • Yes dear Jo Nell I get pretty excited about Christmas. I love the whole show. The sparkle of the decorations, the smell of the Tree, the aroma of baking, the feasting, the excitement of the unwrapping the presents!! The very best wishes for a happy holiday for you and your family.

  4. Virginia,
    You have the best Christmas memory here. You have tasted its true essence. It’s important that some of the flavor remains in Christmas today. It has become a very commercial holiday, but the warmth of a family and a traditional meal and holiday baking keep it real!
    Merry Christmas, Virginia! I know you are already enjoying the season!
    _Resa xoxo

  5. Memories are the most enduring gifts of all!

    Waiting for sunset on Christmas Eve is like standing toes-over-the-edge on a high diving board.
    Every year we’d cruise casually by the window to keep an eye on the sun’s progress until it was officially evening.
    Then the shout “Christmas Eve Gift!” would ring out.
    You see, the traditions says that the first person to voice that phrase on Christmas Eve to another would be graced with good fortune and joy all the next year.
    (And of course, whomever was first won. Everything was a contest…)
    It’s more difficult to be first now with caller ID.
    As all those who have become my friends in blogland are spread widely across time zones, I’d like to wish you all “Christmas Eve Gift” now.
    And as I already feel so fortunate to have such wonderful readers and writers in this neighborhood, I wish to share any phrase acquired good fortune and joy with you in thanks.
    No matter where you are or what you are guided by, hope you have a very merry Christmas and a new year full of adventure and joy.
    Peace on earth and goodwill towards all creatures great and small.

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