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Views Change, But Christmas Still Rules

I have many Christmas memories, just like you do. The sheer amount of them are too numerous to share in one editorial, and I also don’t want to run the risk of boring you with them.

I have many Christmas memories, just like you do. The sheer amount of them are too numerous to share in one editorial, and I also don’t want to run the risk of boring you with them. After all, what makes the memories of this holiday season so special is the fact that they’re uniquely ours, and likely different from anyone else’s.

But I will share a few here, while there’s still at least a couple of days before Christmas Eve (depending on when you’re reading this fine publication that everyone should subscribe to):

- Christmas shopping with my dad. Just to tell you right now, Jack is gonna pop up several times in these memories, and I think that’s largely because he factored so heavily into the holidays at the Ruttle house, and also because the guy was so memorable in his own right. Anyway, my dad and I had something of a shopping tradition when I was a teenager. We’d take a Saturday, drive over to Rosetown, park on Main Street, and then split up for a couple of hours while we both got our shopping done. I’d typically head over to Sears, while Dad would frequent the pharmacy/drug store and what used to be the SAAN store. After we were done, we’d meet back at where we parked, dump our items in the vehicle, and then grab a bite to eat at the restaurant which used to be called The Hood. It was a Christmas tradition that belonged to us and it’s something I think about whenever I drive over to Rosetown, particularly around Christmas. Nowadays, The Hood isn’t even there anymore. That’s too bad.

- The year I got an ax for Christmas. Who gave it to me? Who else but Dad? The horses out at the barn just outside of Conquest were my responsibility, and we had a green bathtub that we used for their water trough out there. In the wintertime, the water they didn’t drink up would freeze, and it got harder and harder to break up the ice and shovel it out of there to make room for new water. Jack got wind of my dilemma. So one Christmas, I think I was 17, we’re opening gifts when my dad comes out of his bedroom. In his hands is something long and wrapped up in those old yellow Home Hardware bags with tape. He hands it to me with a warning, “For Christ’s sake, don’t grab it by this end!” Um, OK, Dad. I rip it open, and it’s a blue-edged, shiny and sharp ax. That ice at the barn never even saw it coming...

- The year my mom drove out to Calgary to help my oldest brother and his family with the birth of my nephew Curtis. It was just Dad and his three boys, and supper on Christmas Eve consisted of him and I trying to figure out how to cook Shake N’ Bake chicken. He peeled potatoes and I read the box carefully, with Dad’s foreboding advice of, “Gotta make sure we cook it through, or things aren’t gonna be too good around here!”, touching on the possible intestinal troubles that are associated with undercooked poultry. In the end, I think it turned out pretty good, and we spent the rest of the night playing cards and watching The Grinch. It was a quiet Christmas Eve, yet sometimes those are the best ones.

I’ve learned as I get older to truly appreciate Christmas more, and all the little things that come with the holiday. I remember my favorite moments, like those I just mentioned, I try to give people the best gifts I can think of, and I just like seeing people that I care about and spending time with them. In this all-too-chaotic world that we live in, who knows how much time ANY of us have on this planet? When you put that into perspective, trivial things such as cool gifts and mountains of too much food go out the window - but I’ll still never turn down stuffing and mashed potatoes.

Here’s to a new chapter in 2017!