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Sick of Christmas?

by Hester M. Curtis

With all the things that have changed over the years, I take comfort in the fact that
Christmas has not. Oh, I know that it has become very commercialized, but in our family, it is steeped in traditions passed down through the years.

I remember so many things that would take place in the weeks prior to Christmas Day. At school and church there were rehearsals for the Christmas plays or the choir. Every year, after the church service at All Saints Church in downtown Windsor, the the story of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus would be performed. The women in the parish hall served sandwiches afterwards.

“Santa” gave out awards for attendance and a bag of candy for everyone. The children of the parish put on a little talent contest, which was followed by Christmas carols. The hall was decorated with streamers, tinsel and lights. It was a very magical event and we never missed it.

Our very patient Sunday School teacher, Miss Benfield, was in charge of organizing everything. She was a dedicated church worker who was Sunday School superintendent until a few years before her death. She was a no nonsense teacher and her voice was loud and piercing so we knew that when she said to do something, she meant it. But her kindness far out weighed her toughness.

My mother began baking several days before the big day. She made mince tarts, lemon curd tarts, maid of honour tarts, Christmas cake and of course plum pudding. Whenever I smell turkey cooking, I think of mother’s house on Christmas day. It was unforgettable!

The Christmas tree was always real. We decorated it with lights and ornaments, most of which my mother had made. They have been passed down through the years and adorn our trees today.

My brothers and sisters and I were allowed to ask for one thing each Christmas and it met our parent’s approval, Santa would bring it to us. We also each received a stocking filled with goodies and a little surprise gift, and we always got a new outfit.

I didn’t fully realize then how fortunate we were although our parents attempted to make us aware that there were others who wouldn’t get a nice Christmas. There was one family in particular that we always helped at Christmas time – we took food, clothing and gifts to their home.

Christmas Catastrophe

As memorable as all of my Christmas’ were, there was one that I shall never forget. We always had wonderful dinners that numbered as many as 40 guests. This year, as usual, mother, prepared the dinner. However, we decided to make the work for her a little easier so we took our big 25 lb. turkey to a local restaurant to have it cooked.

Just before dinner the turkey was delivered. It looked delicious and smelled wonderful. All thirty-five of us sat down and devoured it.

As we were taking the dishes into the kitchen after the dessert and coffee, the oldest member of our family dropped to the floor moaning in pain. We thought he was having a heart attack. Desperately we called for an ambulance, but to no avail. It was also impossible to get a doctor because it was Christmas day.

Then the rest of the adults started dropping back into their chairs while children were throwing up and crying. Suddenly, everyone was trying to get into one of the two bathrooms. We began pulling towels and sheets out of the closet to clean some of the mess up. All but five of us were very ill.

Finally a call to the police succeeded in getting a doctor to the house and he concluded that we had food poisoning. Soon many of our guests began heading home, still feeling quite ill.

Good luck, Doc!

That’s when my mother starting crying. I assured her that next year she could cook the ENTIRE meal.

Next year we had duck.



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