A Christmas down
By Mayor Bill Elliot, City of Wetaskiwin
I remember my Dad bought my Mom seven pairs of underwear, each one labelled with a day of the week: “Sunday”, “Monday”….
My Mom got toilet water for Christmas (perfume) so my younger bother poured it in the toilet.
Oh Christmas tree,
oh Christmas tree
By Mayor John Whaley,
When I was a boy we used to go out with our father and find a tree, cut it down and bring it home for the Christmas tree. One Christmas my brother and I were sent out on our own to find one and we went out and “eyeballed” a good tree that we thought was the correct size. We chopped it down and dragged it home however once we got it half way through the door our father pointed out that it was twice the size it should be! The problem came as it was only half way through the door and we couldn’t push it back out again! Mother was in quite a state as we shifted and shoved the tree and it needles and boughs dropped all over the kitchen! We finally chopped it into bits to get it out and went out to find another (smaller) tree. We brought it in and set it up and decorated it. My brothers and I were in charge of “tree maintenance” that year and we forgot to water it… it was a rather brown Christmas tree by Christmas day.
An urban tree hunt
By Mayor Tony Wadsworth, Town of Millet
While growing up, my parents always had Christmas with a “real” Christmas tree, suitably decorated in our home. In wishing this custom to continue when I had my own family, I soon found out that it wasn’t as straightforward as I might have thought before!
When my first daughter was born, I was living in a large industrial city in England where there were no forests I could go to to pick out my own tree and chop it down. Although I had noticed that there were a few corner lots or the odd shop that had pre-cut trees of all sizes for sale, I hadn’t realized how early you had to shop at these places if you wanted one to actually fit in your house!
I can remember driving all over this large city in England one night on my way home from work shortly before Christmas frantically looking for places selling trees. Most had already closed and I began to fear that we would have no tree at all that Christmas. When I came upon one convenience store still open with just one tree left, I told them I would buy it, even though it was about 14 feet in length.
I had a 30 mile journey to get the tree home tied on the roof of my car, and I then had to find the best way for it to fit in my house. Most of it I had to cut off and throw out and, in the end, we were left with just the straggly top five feet of the tree in the house. I have never forgotten this and, as a result, I have gone with artificial trees ever since, bringing that old family tradition to a quick end!
Light up the kitchen for Christmas
By Stu Salkeld
The Pipestone Flyer
It’s funny how the material things we all get as children don’t really stick out in our minds years later. It tends to be the memories like waiting to get up on Christmas morning, huddling with your brothers and sisters and looking for that sign from your parents that, yes, you can get up and unwrap presents.
Not all of the memories are of holiday traditions though, or of scilinatingly perfect Christmas meals. Sometimes the memories are of less than perfect incidents, though usually worth a lot of laughs too.
I believe it was Christmas 1990 or 1991, I was still living at home in Oyen (hit Drumheller, then keep driving east and driving and driving), I was 19 or 20 years old. I come from a small family, just my mom Sonja, my sister Agnes and my twin brother Bill (my father Ted passed away in 1973). Ag wasn’t around as she and her husband had their own Christmas. So it was just me, mom, Bill and our two-year-old Alaskan Malamute Vince.
After unwrapping presents and seeing how many rawhide treats can be given to a single dog, we started preparing Christmas dinner. Mom and myself were in the kitchen, a multitude of pots bubbling away on the stove, while my brother was in his room talking to his girlfriend on the phone.
Near as I can recall, I had just spoken to my brother when I heard a tremendously loud scream from the kitchen. Rushing in, I saw that something flammable, grease etc. had been dropped onto a burner that was cranked up to 10. Of course, it burst into flames, and anything flammable on the stovetop lit up too. The stovetop was on fire.
My mother doesn’t handle surprises very well, so she was going off the deep end, yelling, hollering, running around etc.
In my brother’s room, I could hear him tell his girlfriend (she must have heard mom yelling), “It’s just mom freaking out. The kitchen’s on fire.”
Poor Vince was hiding in the living room, shaking with fear. He didn’t like it when people raised their voices and I don’t think he was too crazy about fire either.
As for me, I like to think I’m usually a pretty cool customer; I usually don’t get too flustered. Since we had no fire extinguisher in the kitchen, I just thought, “What can extinguish the fire?” There was a large container of flour sitting nearby, so I grabbed two handfuls of flour and threw them on the stovetop (don’t use water, it can cause the flame to splash around the room).
The surprise gift
By Sheree Baillie
The Pipestone Flyer
At Christmas we would have the relatives stay over at our house. Christmas morning we would all take turns opening a single gift. You had to tell everyone who it was from and then everyone would watch you open it. I must have been about eight years old and it was my turn to open a gift; it was from my grandparents and when I opened it I was so excited, the picture on the box was a phone. I did not even open the box, I jumped up, ran over to my grandparents yelling thank you, thank you, thank you and hugged them. My grandma had this look of disappointment on her face and told me to open the box. So I did as she asked and inside the box was knitted clothes for my Barbie, not my own phone. I learned that Christmas to always open the box before you get excited and embarrass yourself in front of a lot of people. And since that Christmas I have never wrapped any gifts in a used box!
A Gift-unwrapping marathon
By Amelia Naismith
The Pipestone Flyer
I don’t really remember this memory, as I was still a very young toddler when it happened, but thanks to the magic of ‘90s home movies I was able to re-watch exactly what my Christmas-crazy younger self did.
Every Christmas morning was spent in our living room with just my parents and siblings for family time and gift opening before we travelled to my Grandma’s house later in the day for the big family Christmas.
Each of us were handed our presents one by one, and I was much faster at opening them with my baby sister, who still didn’t really understand the idea of the the holidays. I sat there with with my opened presents, watching my sister still working her way through hers, then I spied yet more presents under the tree with undeniable children’s wrapping paper.
With the speed only a slippery toddler seems to posses I was back under the tree and already had my fingers under the tape before my mom could cross the room, yelling that those presents were for my cousins.
With just a little tape to cover those tiny toddler-size finger holes Christmas was saved and I don’t think my cousins were any the wiser.
The Christmas magpie
By Mandy Vuylsteke
The Pipestone Flyer
It was always tradition when we were younger that when at my uncle’s near Armstrong, BC on Christmas eve, we kids would go tobogganing.
My cousin Matt and I were out zipping down and climbing up the hill, having a blast. On our next trip down we came close to a tree an noticed some magpies up at the top of it with a nest. We just wanted to take a peak into it to see if there were any baby birds in (not keeping in mind that this was December and the tree/bush was a thorn bush with 1”– 2” thorns).
We struggled and pushed our way to the top all the while getting thorns in ourselves the whole way up, tearing our clothing etc. Finally it was like a light bulb went off and I turned and said to my cousin,“Hey Matt, there are only babies in the spring right?” His face fell with mine as we realized it. We vowed we would not tell anyone about our “not so bright moment”. A little hard to hide as we had some questions to answer about our cuts and scrapes and torn snow suits in the end!