KINGS COUNTY, NS - Laurel Taylor, who grew up in East Halls Harbour, says there’s one particular Christmas she will never forget.
When her baby brother was born on Dec. 21, Taylor and here sisters stayed at their grandparents’ house. When her mom and baby brother were eventually released from the hospital on Dec. 24, there was a huge snowstorm and Taylor got storm stayed at her grandparents’ house.
“Sadly,” says Taylor, “we didn't have any gifts on Christmas morning, but on Boxing Day the storm ended, and my dad snowshoed over to our home several miles away and brought back a gift for each of us.”
Taylor and her family returned home a few days later, and found Santa had left all their gifts there.
“Looking back, I realise how much effort my parents put into making sure we had a Christmas despite a new baby and a huge snowstorm. We didn't have a great deal of money but at Christmas we were rich with family and love and that perfect gift from Sears,” she says.
Trina Long of Sunken Lake was taught an important lesson about Christmas through her children.
“I have had many struggles raising three kids, building a home as I went. We had no walls, blankets hung between studded walls,” she recalls. “One Christmas was the first that I finally could gyproc the living room. With the help of a friend, it got sanded and painted.
Using a blow dryer, she says, they dried the wall to put up the Christmas tree.
“I was so happy because I thought it would be the best Christmas present ever to sit in a living room of painted walls instead of insulated walls covered with just silver vapour barrier,” she said. “Very tired, my kids were all sitting on the couch watching me putting last minute touches on the tree. Their comment was, ‘it is not as pretty as last year’s - the tree lights don't reflect off the walls anymore.’ I had saved so hard to have gifts under the tree and to get this done for Christmas. I turned around from the tree -looking at these three beautiful children, I learned a very valuable lesson. They were warm, they had food, blanketed walls and vapour barrier walls were an adventure. They didn't care about the newly-gyprocked, painted walls; it was the magic of the lights of the tree.”
That’s something she still carries with her.
“As adults, may we always, always try and look at the magic of Christmas through a child's eyes. It's not about the big presents - it's about presence! Do the best you can do with what you have and create memories,” says Long.
Other Kings County residents shared some of their favourite Christmas memories:
“My favourite memory is my dad waking us all up on Christmas morning by slamming cupboard doors, banging pots and pans and then acting it was a mistake and saying ‘Well, since everybody is up, we might as well open the presents!’ He was such a big kid at heart and Christmas has not been the same since he has passed away.” - Deanna Mahar, Kentville
“We always got a phone call from Santa every Christmas Eve night and we didn’t go to bed until Santa called. Later, we found out it was our bus driver. He’d call us and tell us to watch the Santa tracker on the TV. He’d tell us he was getting very close to our house so best be getting right off to bed! He would come and visit close to Christmas dressed up like Santa, too.” - Lexie Misner, Kentville
“My green plastic Easy Bake oven (circa 1970) was the most fun store-bought gift I ever received. Money was tight - we mostly received homemade gifts. I was five years old and it was so much fun! The rule in our house was everyone had to come down at the same time and older brother was a "big pain" - he would never get out of bed!” - Kate McGuire Trevors, Coldbrook
“My dad worked at the pulp mill in Hantsport. Every year at Christmas, the men would get a big box of Moirs Pot of Gold chocolates - the one with the pretty rainbow inside of coloured, foil-wrapped chocolates. We kids didn't get candy very often and we waited not- so- patiently every night until the box was brought down from the cupboard and was allowed to be opened.” - Camille Herbin, Wolfville
“When I was a kid, my uncle would write a Christmas play featuring our family members. Then, all the cousins would be conscripted to become actors. I think we probably practised for about 10 minutes, then went out and performed. My uncle had a really good sense of humour, and the plays were hilarious, especially with all of us kid actors flubbing lines and dressed up like the adults. I still have an image of my cousin in one of my grandmother's housedresses, with two pillows stuffed in there, and my little cousin in my grandfather's hat, coat dragging on the ground.” - Angela Reynolds, Bridgetown
“At some point, I believe as a family joke in the beginning, my grandfather would be given a wind-up toy at Christmas and the growing collection was put out under the tree for us to play with every year. Some date back to the 1930s and all the grandchildren were very careful with them. I have the collection in a specially-built case and still bring them out!” - Carol Ann Burden, Port Williams
“I remember, at the age of 10 or 11, the five- hour hike through the woods, knee-deep in snow, to find the perfect tree, only to return to the first one we seen as we started. Priceless moments with my Dad.” - Ted Fraser, Kentville
“My mom and step dad would put all the Christmas gifts in the computer room and put a padlock on the room. My brother and I would unscrew the padlock hardware and walk right in, destroying the protector of the room in a matter of seconds. I was particularly obsessed with the presents wrapped under the tree. Shaking, weighting, feeling. Rolling the present around in my hands over and over. I wouldn’t stop until I was 100 per cent sure what it was and totally prepared to ruin Christmas for anyone whose present was wrapped under the tree. We would just draw the padlock hardware back on the door when we were done, and never got caught.” - Meegan Lovett, Coldbrook