Thursday, December 18, 2014

Happy Holidays!

It’s that time of the year again, when most of us rush around to finish this and that, complete our shopping, wrap up projects, and ensure everything is in place for the Holiday Season.  If you are anything like me, you procrastinate a little and end up finishing things in the last minute.  When will I learn?

I remember, as a child, my father would take my siblings and me, in the early hours of a November morning, down to the fish docks.  We’d wait in long line ups, with other families, to fill our buckets with freshly caught herring.  I can see some of your noses crinkling, but until you have tried this delicacy the way our family serves it, you truly don’t know what you’re missing.  We’d fill at least 5 big buckets (I would say a good 100 of the tiny fish) and enjoy the smell of the sea filling the car on our trip home.  I would then assist my mother in the washing and cleaning of the fish; removing the innards and filleting them.  They would then get layered with coarse salt in big ceramic pots and sit in the dark of our basement cellar for weeks.  The salt would cook the fish, so the end result would be to wash them off, and cut them up to ready them for salads.  My mother always made a most delicious Herring Salat (German).  It was mixed with cooked potatoes, pickles, hard boiled eggs, sliced apples and cooked red beets, and seasoned with vinegar, salt & pepper, and dill weed.  I would always try to steal a few mouthfuls before it was served to the family on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve was the special evening of celebration with a family gathering and a pot luck meal.  Mom would always invite friends who found themselves alone at this time of the year.  After a short retirement to our bedrooms, we’d hear a bell ringing, calling to us to come to the living room to see the wonderment of a Christmas Tree and all the lovely presents underneath.  Now mind you, we had to work for those presents.  My siblings and I would have to prepare a poem, act out a skit, perform with instruments, or tell a story before any of us would be able to partake in the merriment of gift opening.  Then we sang a number of holiday songs while some of us played recorder or the piano.  The wait for that moment was always so long and arduous. I would often shake in fear that I would say something wrong, or play my recorder with mistakes, or would simply forget my presentation all together.  However, I always succeeded.

My family was not wealthy, so most of our gifts were homemade, 2nd hand or of the best deal.. meaning we never received the coolest new toy out on the market.  It didn't matter.  I was always surprised and happy with what I received.  When I look back, I admit the best memories were of family and friends; not the receiving of gifts.

As I became older and began earning my own money, I would be just as frugal as my parents had been.  Money was always tight.  To this day I make my own holiday cards and presents.  I take the time to spend a weekend crafting.  To see the smiles of appreciation on everyone's face is priceless.  They know we can never afford to give to everyone, but what we do give is love and kindness.  We still have a pot luck type of meal and the singing of songs before any gift sharing.  Some of us put on performances, or read our own poetry, and we shake in anticipation of “our turn” and hope we master it without mistakes.

This year I am flying south on the evening of December 25th to share the festive season with my wife in Northern California.  I fly each year, but I've been lucky to arrive prior to the holidays.  There simply was too much work this year.  My wife’s family celebrates in a similar manner.  They feast on December 24th with family, play music, share stories and read the Bible story before any gift giving.  It always feels like home.  I’ll certainly miss the fun, but am happy I’ll be with my immediate family to share this special time of year.

Lesli (my wife) and I have plans for some ghostly investigations in the Sonoma County area, and of course exploration of little cemeteries that are often forgotten.  We’ll revisit our favourite one of all, Spring Hill Cemetery.  It gives off such a peaceful atmosphere.

We, at VSPI, wish you a wonderful Holiday Season!
Please do not drink and drive.
Plan ahead, and don’t let the stress of the season get you down.  Know that no matter what, you’re family and friends appreciate you and the time spent together.
Please don’t forget the spirits of your home.  Invite them to your celebrations.  I’m sure they’ll enjoy the festivities!

Have a good one! We’ll be in touch and blog about our adventures.
Merry Jolly Jing-a-Ling!

No comments:

Post a Comment