Today is a perfect day to write my Christmas letter. I’m stuck at home because the Dodge has a dead battery, and the Toyota has a flat tire. We are still waiting for CAA to come and boost the van and put air in the tire so we can get them to the garage. This happened this morning, and it is now almost 3 pm. (I’m not making this up — honest.)
My first big decision in January 2015 was to stop highlighting my hair. Earth shattering, I know. My hair grows slowly, and I didn’t want to have partly highlighted hair and partly dark brown hair for the next five years. Dyeing it all one colour made perfect sense to me. What were the chances of finding a hair dye that matched my natural colour? A big fat zero. Here it is the middle of December and my hair has grown about four inches and the
new hair has a lot of gray in it. Who knows what colour it will be next Christmas? I might try red or purple.
We decided to go to West Head in February. I think I’m losing my marbles. It was the worst winter that anyone could remember. Old-timers hadn’t seen such severe weather since they were children. I thought it would be a good time to have a high school reunion. In February with all the snow and ice? I had to cancel it, of course. What was I thinking? That was the problem……….. I wasn’t thinking with the right part of my brain. It was just one snowstorm after another interspersed with wicked ice storms.
Glenn’s Dad took sick in March and Glenn flew home to help his Mom. He traveled the day after the crash landing of AC624 in Halifax. Of course, Air Canada and the airport were in damage control mode and insisted it was nothing more than a rough landing. I don’t know much about aviation, but if the nose falls off, a wing breaks off and the landing gear rips out the electrical lines, causing the plane to slide in on its belly — that qualifies as a crash landing. The airport was left in darkness because their generator power failed. A good dose of Murphy’s Law Unbound.
The drive from West Head to Halifax was an adventure in itself. The province, especially in the Halifax area, got behind with snow removal after the first snowstorm of the season and never ever got caught up. The snow banks were higher than the van. Turning lanes got gobbled up with snow and two lanes turned into one lane. Airport authorities asked people to stay away. I could only drop Glenn off and keep on going. I felt sorry for the people who had flown away to balmy destinations and had parked their cars outside at the airport. Only the roofs/rooves of the cars were visible. We heard it took some people more than three hours to dig out their car. That would be enough to ruin all the benefits of your holiday.
Glenn flew back to Halifax about a week later. Grampa’s health deteriorated quickly so we decided to drive home. He passed away in the early hours of April 9th.
Our West Head house was a popular destination this year. Allison, Ed, Isaac, and Maddie arrived in March for several weeks. Jeremy, Dana, and Greta spent time in the West Head house in May, just when Dad’s daffodils were in full bloom. In July, Allison packed up her kids in the car and struck out for West Head again and came home later in August. Childhood memories are very powerful and stay with us forever. Both Jeremy and Allison want their children to experience West Head just like they did as kids. Allison walked hundreds of kilometres with her children. They were either walking “the loop” or playing on the beach. Everyone arrived home with golden skin.
Isaac graduated from Daycare at the end
of August. He received an award for being the “Most Adaptable” which meant he was willing to play with anybody. That called for a celebration dinner at “Just for the Halibut.”
Glenn and I decided to go to Nova Scotia a second time in September and October. September is a busy month for birthdays in our family. Greta was turning 1; Allison was turning 31, and I was turning 58. We had an “Almost Birthday Party” before we left which turned into a great family get together.
The “Welcome Mat” is always out when we are in West Head. I always tell people that if the van is in the driveway, come on in for a few yarns and a mugup. No need to call in advance. If it is mealtime we can always make room at the table for one more and we really mean it.The house in West Head is almost finished. We would like to put in kitchen cabinets and maybe build a single car garage.
Some of my high school friends dropped in one Sunday in October. It was great to see Kathy Buchanan, Joann Swim, Peggy Blades, Richard (Lorna) Swansburg, Leonard Moody and David “Weiner” Williams. We had 40 years of catching up to do. Every question seemed to begin with “Remember when…” Some of us had very different recollections of the same event.
We hosted a roast beef dinner for first cousins (the grandchildren of Leonard and Ada Roache) who lived in the area. It is always fun to catch up with everyone. We are all looking more like our parents every year. Roaches are great storytellers (sounds nicer than liars) which meant lots of laughter.
That roast beef dinner started something that is still going. In preparation for my cousins’ visit, I went to Seeblick Printing (www.seeblickprinting.com) in Pleasant Point to have several things printed: some posters with names and dates of our ancestors, copies of Granny (Ada) Roache’s table grace and napkin rings with the Roache crest on them. (Once a teacher, always a teacher.) I really didn’t know Ulrich, but he was a great friend of Dad’s and any friend of Dad’s is a friend of mine. We got gabbing and one thing led to another. Ulrich discovered that I write a weekly blog called “Life Matters” (www.meldajeanclark.com). By the time I left, we had loose plans to put some of my blogs in a book.
It wasn’t as simple as copying my blogs into a book. No, no, no. Writing for the internet is not the same as writing a book. It took countless hours to get each story the way I wanted it to read. There were days when I worked with Ulrich morning, noon and night. My time in Lockeport was limited and I wanted to have it finished before I left. I was able to feature ten of Dad’s paintings of West Head as it was many years ago.
I still have copies available if you are interested in buying one. $25.00 per copy. I wish I had inherited Dad’s ability to sell anything to anybody.
C.M. wrote: I read it from start to finish and laughed, cried, laughed and cried some more.
J.B. wrote: My friend is not a reader, but he couldn’t put it down.
L.F. wrote: I didn’t know you were such a klutz. The title was perfect because life really does matter.
A.C. wrote: I have been reading the stories over and over. I felt like I was in Nova Scotia
We made the big decision to tear down Dad’s barn this year. This marked an end of an era. All of the grandchildren could tell you tales about shenanigans carried out in the barn. Jeremy, Jonathan, and Allison were exploring in the barn one day when they got the bright idea to put Sookie, the dog, in a fishing tote pan and hoist him up to the hay loft, using ropes and pulleys. Gramp appeared on the scene, took one look at them, and that was the end of that. He didn’t have to say a word. If only the barn could talk!
Mark Williams Construction took the barn away, contents (freezers, fridges, fishing gear) and all manner of junk beyond what you can imagine. Our picturesque view became even better if that is possible.
This created a new problem, however. It left Snide the Cat homeless. He lived upstairs in the barn. We looked out the window one day and beheld a pitiful sight. There was Snide, sitting in the centre of where the barn used to be. It was heartbreaking. Our neighbour, Burnley, left some food for him, but other critters caught on right away,
so we needed a new plan.
We bought a doghouse, filled it with straw and put Snide’s food dish inside. It didn’t take long for Snide to find it. It sure beats sleeping on a fence post or on top of a vehicle. Wouldn’t Mom and Dad love to know that we are running a
Slang for whore house or brothel.
It’s also an outdoor shelter for a feline.
“I dumped my man when I found him
hanging out at a cat house!”
Edsel took this picture of the house in November, all closed up for winter. It looks pleasant enough for a barbecue on the deck.
We left West Head early on Hallowe’en morning, eager to see our children and grandchildren. At one point, we thought we might spend six months in Nova Scotia and six months in Ontario, but we can’t bear to be away from our little grand kiddies that long. Maybe once they are older…… and before we have too many aches and pains and still know our own names.
We celebrated another round of birthdays in December — Isaac turned 4, Maddie turned 1 and Jeremy turned 34. Isaac invited some kindergarten friends — all boys. Need I say more? I wish I could have harnessed the energy in the room. I think we can say a good time was had by all.
Wasn’t That a Party!
The next event is Christmas. The count, so far, is 18 adults and 5 kids under 5. Might be a good day to turn off the hearing aid — if I had one.
This time of year we find ourselves humming tunes such as It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, I’ll be Home for Christmas, Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire and I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas. Each evening there are Christmas movies with happy endings on television. We must remember that there are many people who dread Christmas for different reasons — because the love of their life passed away, because they will be all alone, because they can’t afford to buy any Christmas gifts or because they are estranged from their families.
This gives us an opportunity to be like the angels of old who delivered good news to the shepherds. But how? We can set an extra plate at the dinner table, decorate and deliver a table top tree, fill an extra stocking, share some baking, extend an invitation to a Christmas concert or make someone an honorary grandparent…
If you have never done something like this before, give it a try. I promise you will discover that it will be just as rewarding for you as for the other person. I bet it will be forever cherished — more precious than gold or silver.
Remember, not all angels have wings and play harps (thank goodness).
As the world pauses for one day to celebrate Mary and Joseph’s little lamb, we wish you a very special Christmas with family and friends.
With much affection,
Glenn & Melda
To purchase a copy of my book,
“LIFE MATTERS: 20 Mostly True Stories to Put a Smile on Your Face”
as well as bookmarks, note cards and postcards,
please visit my store:
Memories of Nova Scotia