Not all her Christmases were happy

From our December 2012 issue

By Maisie Burton – Kipling, Sask.

Christmas always brings back memories of when I was a child growing up on the farm with my mother, dad, and several brothers and sisters.

Preparation for Christmas always started with the making of the Christmas cake early in December. After baking, it was wrapped in cheesecloth and put in storage in a crock in the pantry. Every now and then we would get to sample some.

The Christmas dinner centerpiece would be the homegrown turkey that my father butchered the day before Christmas. My mother would be busy that day also making the Christmas pudding, mincemeat pies, and butter tarts!

The day would be more special for all of us if some of our relatives joined us. We had aunts, uncles, and cousins living nearby. After the guests had arrived and the teams of horses had been stabled and fed, the feast could begin.

The table was laden with turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, potatoes, gravy, turnips, carrots and also homemade buns with home-churned butter. Dessert was Christmas pudding, mincemeat pies, and tarts.

There were always nuts and candy and Christmas oranges to nibble on during the day.

Our company would all leave late in the afternoon to arrive home in time to do evening chores. Those of us left would enjoy a late snack of turkey and buns along with tarts and cookies.

I remember some happy Christmases but also some sad ones – like the year my dad died in 1949 and we had our first Christmas without him. Sad, like the next year when I returned home from attending school in a nearby town and came down with a case of the mumps the day before Christmas.

Happy was the one when my 10-year-old sister and my mother returned home from Toronto where my sister had undergone serious heart surgery. That year also my eldest brother joined us. He had been away in the army and we hadn’t seen him for several months.

There have been many Christmases since with my own family, some happy, some sad.