Welcome to A special Christmas episode about a girl who grew up in a small town east of Jasper Alberta who now lives in and loves Calgary. What or who brought you to Calgary, why do you love it here?
Once upon a time there was a was a brown haired girl with green eyes who lived in a town with a quaint population. Her mom and dad were also both from this pulp and paper town. Surrounded by coal mines and mountains.
She, this small girl loved Christmas. Her large praternal family consisted of Auntie Cher, cousin David, Uncle Ron, Auntie Barb and cousins Abby and Katy, Uncle Derek Auntie Marg a x cousins Travis Russel and Jolene as well as uncle Murray (RIP) Auntie Laurie and cousin Kyle. And My dad, Michael comes next with me, Valerie and my older Sister Lisa. Then would be Uncle Darcy (RIP) and next comes Auntie Maureen, Uncle Al and their boys Ryley, Davis and Vaughan. Yes this is my family on my dads side. Amazing isn’t it.? What’s does your dads side look like? How many people in your family on your praternal side? And this is before we all had babies…
We would head out to Folding mountain resort every year! This resort was owned and operated by my grandparents for many years and previous to that by my grandmas cousin. Nestled in the heart of a mountain names, Folding Mountain-a mountain that folded over a lake many crisp years before as well as other Rocky Mountains it boasts to this day a campground and cabins and condos just East of the jasper gates in Jasper national and historic park.
There was very rarely a sharing of the holidays my gramma Swain won her family most of the time. Her family came home for Christmas. All the kids. Since my dad was a single parent she didn’t have to share us and I was thankful for that I think because she had mostly boys they all showed up for Christmas to be with their mother and of course my grandpa.
We would arrive a day or two before the specialist day and walk into a country home smelling of pies, all kinds of roasting foods like: of course the traditional Turkey and fixings as well as, other family favourites like sour krout soup and sausage stew, perogi and cabbage rolls, enchiladas, and abundance of salads to include traditional lettuce and sort of bean mixture. Plus an incredible array of desserts.
Funny story, when my dad and his brothers were young, remember how many of them there were? My grandma would do her Christmas baking way in advance and freeze everything in the basement deep freeze. The boys would go in a sneak slabs of her Nanaimo bars and cakes in the night…the stash and supplies were mush skinnier when the time came for Christmas dinner celebrations…hmmm I wonder if Grandma actually minded.
Upon arrival all these families would show up in troves kids and food and pets lol along with presents and all the banter ‘oh Maureen I bought this dish back I borrowed’ and Oh Michael here’s these pictures you wanted and ‘oh hi Auntie is so good to see you’ this took most of the day-evening just saying hi’s to everyone. Then the grandkids, Lisa, Travis, Valerie, Russell, David, Jolene, Abby, Katy, Kyle would go hunting with Grandpa Swain for the best Christmas tree, a real tree, picked right in our backyard, up the mountain. The tree could barely fit through the door. the decorating would ensure and Christmas was well underway…
You see our family was big and people were scattered all around the country. We had aunties and uncles in Ontario and British Columbia as well as when my family moved us to Saskatchewan and family in Edmonton. But we would all descend into our home town where we were all raised on this snowy snow capped mountain resort that was familiar and special to each one of us in a different or similar way.
this is my dads side
Her maternal side also lived in this area just East in a small town, still nestled in the Rocky Mountains, this is a town where People did not lock their doors the parents teach at the schools and work at the hospitals and for the town. This town started me, it showed me trust where kids played freely in the streets till past dark and it was safe! My mom Candace with us two girls she was the eldest with her husband Doug, auntie Janet comes next, then comes Auntie Kathy with Uncle Randy (RIP) – and her three girls Amie, Shannon and Tracey and the next comes Auntie Lana with her husband Dan and the last but not least is Uncle Glen and his long time girlfriend Jackie with their Son Jarvys. When we would arrive at Auntie Kathy’s she would always have some sewing project started, I’m making 7 matching pyjama bottoms – what Auntie it’s like two days before Christmas, she’d laugh and say I know…let’s get at it! I would come to expect these last minute late nights with Auntie always squeezing in one finally special gift and wrapping presents into the wee hours – this was Christmas.
and this is my moms side
Many Christmass’ were spent in Folding Mountain and Hinton Alberta, being at this place and the next, being surrounded by family here and there. The extra people who come to town are always welcome at this family or that. We have roots in this place, generations grew up here. Can you imagine being from a family that has 7 Aunts and Uncles on one side and 5 on the other plus all the cousins… it’s pretty fantastic.
These memories I hold very dear. Life changes and people grow up, move out, and spread out, I have 2nd cousins now and small people that call me auntie, my daughter has her own cousins and second cousins that are almost the same age. We have traditions yes, we have family around yes but nothing like when I was a kid…Christmas magic is different now, I setup my tree with my daughter and husband who always tops the tree with the angel. My mom and her husband live over there and my dad and his wife live the other way. My Sister and her new life live somewhere close-ish bye. It’s not the same. This is my new Christmas with my special people, it’s small and quaint but it’s all mine. I’m grateful for my life, we’ve made choices together, our family traditions are blossoming and our life is good. I’m humble and grateful. My husbands family is close by and we will see them, happy for my daughter to see her grandparents, Auntie Colleen and my nieces as well.
What are your traditions, what do they look like? Who do you miss this time of year, I’ve lost some family as you’ve heard who have you lost and how has this changed you? We tend to think about these people at this time of year, that special photo or blanket that you keep for this time of year. Where makes you feel the Christmas magic? for me, special ornaments I hang on the tree and recipes I’ve now made for years – just for this time of year.
Merry Christmas to all my family and friends, near and far, thank you for impacting my life and spreading your life lessons and nostalgic upon me. Your impressions have lasted and I’m truly thankful to have them.
Songs for this show are provided by London Moss, Oh Chistmas Tree and Jingle Bells and digging out our Christmas Carol book that holds our little Friday George..thanks to Jeff for adding the whistleing in the background, even tho I’m home with a cold I wanted to get this recorded and ready for the Christmas. As you can likely hear in my voice I’m a sensitive person and even more this time of year as I’m sure like so many of you. Hug your chosen few close and enjoy the moment capture it in recordings and songs for future people to enjoy. In this episode I chose the appropriately named Trading places beat 02 from the generations I’ve listed out and Lobby conversation that truly sounded like the family depended upon my former Christmas home.
Wishing all this next generation of Swains and LaPortes a very merry Christmas..
Jonathan, Makalay, Liam, Parker, Faith and Grace, London, and Landon, Ryley, Davis and Vaughan, Jasmin and Dylan, Avery and Graham, Landon and Jayden, Lilly, Grace and Taya, Owen and Winston and more to come…make your own memories, remember the ones your had and will continue to have.