Christmas Eve 1967
That's 3-year-old me with Mom, in front of our tree in Royal Oak, Michigan. The stocking behind me is the same one I use today.
Christmas morning, 1969
My sister, Dad and me in Royal Oak. The tree looks like it had little decorators this time.
Christmas Eve 1976
This was the tree my Mom, sister and I remember so fondly in my Dartmouth, Nova Scotia home where I did most of my growing up. We got the tree ourselves while my dad was on a business trip, and decorated it late at night, singing away to Christmas records. We got hungry and halted the decorating to eat fried eggs and toast at 11:00 at night. It was all very zany, spontaneous and spirited.
You can see my Christmas carol book I was working on at the time. Early scrapbooking, when there wasn't an industry attached to it. I loved sitting in the glow of the tree lights, listening to music.
Christmas morning, 1979
Myself and my sister, waiting until Mom put the turkey in the oven. Once upon a time, that was my favorite way to sit - cross-legged on the floor or on my bed. This was a great Christmas - my mom took home a cardboard lipstick display from work that looked like a Christmas fireplace, and hung Laura Secord lollipops from the pegs. That was from Santa, of course ;-)
Christmas Eve, 1995
Fast forward 20 years to Toronto. I'd been living there for a decade by then. This is Donna's home where I used to be a live-in nanny to Claire. My mom had flown to Toronto for that Christmas, and Donna invited all of us over for the evening. That's my sister Michelle, Donna and myself chatting away. I started off working for Donna, but she immediately became a wonderful friend and extra family to me.
Christmas morning, 1995
That's Brad and me the next morning at my sister's Scarborough, Ontario apartment, ready for prezzies. When I lived in Toronto, I often put up three trees: my own, then I'd help with my sister's, and my mother-in-law knows I'm a Christmas Maniac and that the only cure for that is to allow me to help with her tree, too...
Christmas week, 1996
The following year we all converged on my cousin's home when they lived in Sackville, New Brunswick. My sister flew up, but Brad and I took the train. Mom & Gram and Auntie & Uncle drove up from Yarmouth and Halifax. Julianne's husband Stephen hadn't become accustomed yet to our overboard Christmas Frenzy. He just kept shaking his head in disbelief at the enormous mountain of gifts. (His family generally goes skiing for Christmas.)
I unloaded all the gifts and piled them around the tree. I loved it. This was an extra special Christmas, as my cousin Julianne's daughter was born during this celebration.
Christmas Day, 1998
I know there's a tree there, somewhere. It's been completely obscured by Smiths.
This was our last Christmas in Toronto. My brother-in-law Ken and sister-in-law Anna hosted Christmas Day out in Rockwood (they now live in Ottawa.) How I miss my Smith Christmases. This will be the first Christmas without Brad's dad, so I really wish we could all be together.
Back row: My husband Brad, his brother Jeff, their dad David, his brother Ken
Middle row: Brad's mom Joan, Jeff's wife Violetta with her daughter Pamela in front, Brad's sister Karen holding her nephew Francis (Ken's & Anna's son)
Front row: Me, Ken's wife Anna and their son Peter - I miss everyone... :-(
Christmas morning, 2000
This was our second Christmas in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and Brad & I hosted the Christmas morning festivities. That was our apartment upstairs at Gram's. A more intimate Christmas with just Gram, Mom, Brad and I. We didn't have our dog Xena yet - we got her the following Easter. That's Brad sitting on the couch and Mom beside the tree.
I have great affection for this tree, because Brad had been put on a brand new medication for his bipolar disorder (Risperdal) and was enjoying Christmas in a whole new way. He felt great (not manic) and actually bought new Christmas ornaments because he fell in love with them, and helped me decorate the tree for the first time ever. Yes, I really love this tree.
Christmas Eve, 2004
This was the fourth Christmas after Gram had agreed to relocate from Yarmouth to Halifax so our family could see one another whenever we wanted, without a huge trip in order to do so. Julianne and Stephen had also moved back to Nova Scotia with their daughter Laura, left. My other cousin Charlie and his family, as well as my sister Michelle, had moved back here from Toronto. That's Charlie's and fellow blogger Heather's daughter Emily at right on her Uncle Stephen's lap. Our joy at being all together again was indescribable.
A real Christmas Eve at Auntie Noel's and Uncle Charlie's - the way it's supposed to be.
Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada Christmas Potluck
Last year's Christmas party for my writers' group came as a welcome breath of air for me - I spent nearly all of last November in the hospital with Gram as she began her journey to the next life. This party gave me some time to renew my spirit and my energy before rejoining my mom as we watched over Gram.
Shown here are Judith James, my cousin Julianne MacLean and fellow blogger Anne MacFarlane by the little tree where our Yankee gift exchange presents awaited.
November 30, 2007
Seen in the background on the bureau is the mini Christmas tree my sister brought into the hospital so Gram could have a last look at Christmas before she left us. Michelle also brought in her beautiful quilt she made, which you can see covering Gram, as well as Christmas CD's which we played for her, whose whole life was filled with music. Gram's spirit shone when she played her piano, and my sister wanted to make sure her departure was filled with sweet melody.
I spent a very special evening sitting beside Gram's bed, with my mom taking a turn to head home for a shower and a few hours' rest. My sister Michelle and my cousin Julianne joined me. I held Gram's hand the whole time, and Gram squeezed my fingers to let me know she could hear us as we talked to each other and to her. Three sisters/cousins/friends and their grandmother, and a very precious evening under a tiny glowing tree I shall never forget.
Christmas morning, 2007
This is our Christmas tree last year, which Mom put up in the spot where Gram used to sit in her chair. We filled her absence with the joy of Christmas, and let the lights of the Christmas tree shine where we missed Gram so much.