Photo album offers a glance back in time

From our January 2013 issue

By Wes Lonoway – McTaggart, Sask.

This nostalgic trip begins after a summer family barbecue. You know what it’s like after a meal with family. Some of the children are running off their newfound energy, others seeking solace from the gathering of the clan, while others have found a spot in the living room to kick back and relax and catch up on life’s goings-ons.

On a nearby bookcase someone pulled out one of many photo albums. Some are labelled weddings, trips, along with the usual titles. So I asked my brother if he would pass one over to me. As it happened I got the one marked “Christmas”.

I began randomly turning the pages of the Christmases past. Turning back time for a moment, you begin to relive the images frozen in time in a world of black and white, so-called colour, mostly washed-out, pink faded Polaroids.

Glancing through a page of black and whites, I paused at one photo, taking in everything. There on the window in the clutter of knickknacks, which can be found at any grandma’s house, is a plastic face of an angel illuminated.

The angel would appear in many more Christmases to come.

On the windowsill sits a 4-sided white plastic evergreen tree. Standing in the middle of this candid shot is my very young uncle with his girlfriend, not the woman he would marry.

On the kitchen table in front of these 2 is a bottle of spirits and small gifts that just might resemble socks or gloves. In the centre of the table beside a bowl of mixed nuts is a small wooden crate on its side, the previous contents giving off the aroma of fresh sawed wood mixed with fresh oranges that filled the kitchen.

Bits of sometimes green tissue paper visibly through the spaces of the crate are imported Japanese mandarin oranges. The tissue paper may have been saved for a later use. That would depend on how soft the tissue was.

For some families, having or receiving a box of Japanese mandarin oranges is what made Christmas that much more special, from a time where things in life were simple and the meaning of the Christmas was true to its word.

On the next page of the album is another photo of a woman sitting in an oversized armchair, adjacent to the table where the oranges were. Grandma.

One day about 5 years ago, I passed an antique and collectables shop. That day I had time to go in and browse.

To one side of an aisle I noticed a vaguely familiar-looking box. It was a wooden Japanese mandarin orange crate in perfect condition, as memory played the photo from the Christmas album in my mind.

My heart was filled with excitement that this bit of nostalgia was still around and with the same emotion. Loved ones from the photo will be missed during this most special time.