Her first time away from home was tough

From our December 2013 issue

By Gladys McCarthy – Tisdale, Sask.

I’ve always loved to hear the words “home for Christmas,” whether in a song or even an advertisement.
I remember so well the first Christmas I couldn’t be home and even then, I did get up to my dad’s for a few hours on Christmas day.

How I missed all the excitement of getting ready for the big day and the many friends stopping in. The tea kettle never seemed to stop boiling with all the lunches that were served.

My older sisters would be home for the holidays while my younger brother was busy helping dad with all the barn chores and bringing in wood, coal, and water. There would be a parcel from my older brother in the Yukon with maybe beaded moccasins or mitts inside.

I was married with a three-year-old son, and my place was with my husband on a farm 10 miles away. I did what I could to fix up the old house, but it was a dark place with two small windows in the whole living area – which was one big room.

There was a low ceiling with uncovered beams which had been whitewashed at one time. I did wallpaper the walls, but never tackled the ceiling. I cut out cardboard reindeer and Santa with his sleigh and covered them with silver paper. I strung them across the window and with a few stars and a moon, it didn’t look half bad.

We did have a tree, but very few ornaments. Our cream cheques had to stretch pretty far as it was. We didn’t have many cows milking those first years, so every penny counted.

I remember getting washcloths as a present for some people from the Army & Navy catalogue. The price sticks in my mind: $1.13 – and that was for a dozen. Surely they were more than that! I remember how gracious one aunt was as she assured me they were just what she needed! Bless her.

We had been living at my dad’s the first few years of our marriage. We farmed with him in the summer and went out to work in the winter, most of the time in bush camps, so we had a busy life.

Moving to my husband’s old home and being very hard up was not a pleasant place to be. We had no power, no TV, and we didn’t see people everyday as we had at my dad’s. We returned home from dad’s on Christmas day to do chores and, I must admit, I felt pretty sad. It hit me hard that this was the way it was going to be from now on.

After I put my sleepy son to bed and the separating was done, I put the kettle on and did count my blessings for a good husband and son, whom I thought the world of.

Now, my own sons and a dear daughter-in-law come home for Christmas every year with our beloved grandson, and we all are indeed “home for Christmas”.