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.