Shakey looks at December Reflections at Christmas Time

Leonard Lea Frazer
Former Canoe Mt. Echo Editor, George Ives.
Former Canoe Mt. Echo Editor, George Ives.
Leonard Frazer photos

Introduction:  Below, you will find two stories from the Dec. 24, 1986 edition of the Canoe Mountain Echo. The first was reprinted in memory of the late George Ives, who was the “Echo” Editor for nine years in Valemount. Back in the 1980s there were those who loved his writing and those who hated it; but we all bought the paper, each and every week, all the same.

George had a hidden talent and his own brand of humour. The second story was submitted anonymously by a Valemount resident. Enjoy!

Shakey Looks at December by George Ives
December is the shortest month of the year. No argument to the contrary will be accepted from those who point to February. Sure, December has thirty-one days, but can you really call them days? You know. Those hurried little spasms that whizz by between Thanks­giving and Christmas. Heck, you can't call them days.
You just get the Thanksgiving turkey cleared up; you turn around and, there is Christmas, and a tree waiting to be decorated. Then New Year's Day is here - and January.
Christmas is the time when the mountains and hills are folded in the sleep of the year's night. Now there is rest and quiet, a time of forces consolidated. Those who would put a price on things would say December is the price we pay for June. Even that distorts the impersonal cycle of nature.
December is the bare trees and evergreens; it is the rustling weed stems along the prairie side roads or a stiff tailed squirrel scrambling up a pine. It is the ice on the pond, or a flock of chickadees at the yard feeder.
December is a blizzard in Saskatchewan and a gale on the open lakes. It is fir, spruce and pine going to the cities and towns by the truckload and red ribbon by the mile and tinsel everywhere. It's a snow shovel and galoshes, mufflers round the neck and thirty below in Medicine Hat. When winter storms sweep across our land and cold grips with icy fingers, they say that nature is giving man a hard time of it. Not so, Humility is not one of mankind’s outstanding attributes. Natural hazards are an affront to his status. Nature is neither vindictive nor benevolent and man merely finds conditions to his liking or his distaste. The wind and the weather are as unaware of man as they are of the hibernating wood-chuck or the migrating bluebird.
Christmas winds and weather were doing their thing long before the appearance of man and if man was to vanish as a species, they would go right on doing it.
One of the penalties of modern life is the loss of the appreciation of snow. The youngster with a sled and the grownup with a pair of skis know the satisfaction of a snow-clad slope. In the city, snow has become a cold and slushy nuisance. Travellers find snow a blinding, slippery hazard to foot, wheel and wing. One would never think that a delicate water crystal, one of the most transient of all natural forms, could cause so much grief to city dwellers.
A snowfall can transform woodland into a place of magic and a meadow into a shimmering wonderland. Look at the perfection of line, curve and form or a snowdrift after a stiff wind and restore lost innocence to a scarred world of disillusionment and folly.
We did have the chance recent­ly after our first snow to whistle for the dog, take a walk in the bright moonlight and just look. The December stars were twice as bright as those of June. The sky was doubly clear with the mist chilled out of it and the dust of summer had settled at last. One could have stood on a high rise of ground and touched the Big Dipper while the Great Bear sat on the horizon with the Little Bear hang­ing by his tail from the North Star.
Yes, the hills are now enfolded in the sleep of years' night, the time of rest. The business of sap and leaf has ebbed, hibernating animals sleep and songbirds’ nests are empty.
December finds Mother Nature summarizing and hoarding strength with a quiet knowledge of a June to come and another summer. December is no more than a current pause in the long span of life and time, neither an end nor a beginning but a going on. A time for a deep, cool breath that marks the next step forward.

Reflections at Christmas time
Written & submitted by a local resident
It's Christmas. That magic night of nights. Ask any child or adult, which is their favourite holiday of the year, and all will be sure to say, "Christmas!"
Listen to those carols, "Hark the herald angels sing" boldly declaring, "Glory to the New Born King." We all know that old, old story of the baby Jesus who was born in a stable, this very night o so long ago.
Presents: Who doesn't like to receive presents? Look at them all, there's hardly room enough under that glittering, twinkling Christmas tree. Each one chosen with love and care, suitable to each receiver, taped and wrapped carefully. Like the three wise men bearing gifts from the east, we give them, commemorating that special gift born for us, so long ago, in Bethlehem.
Christmas: a shining light. How appropriate, for this holiday to fall at this time of year, brightening these longest, darkest and coldest nights of the year. As I did as a child, years ago, I run to the window, staring up at the cold, star filled sky and pick the brightest star. Could it be that special one?
Turning from the window I look around my home and count my many blessings. I breathe in that Christmas aroma. There sits the turkey for that special Christmas meal. I see candy, nuts and those arrangements I love so much. As they come in one by one, the Greeting cards are displayed bear­ing warm messages of friendship remembered.
Shining faces of loved ones who have travelled a long way to hear this special winter holiday and children's laughter as they crowd around the tree, touching each gift, hoping it contains what they have been wishing for. How surprisingly good they have been these past two weeks or so.
Growing up as a child in a large family, Christmas was never like this. Christmas was not com­mercialized as it is today. Besides, my parents would have never been able to afford all these material things. It is surprising. I still have special memories to share with my family.
Tonight, let us pause and remember others who are not as fortunate as we are; the rich, the poor, the lonely bachelor, the widow, her white poodle on a leash, walking alone down the road. We all know someone like this in Valemount. Let us show some kindness and sharing. They say it is better to give than receive.
I hear sleigh bells and singing, it must be Clarence Plamondon's horse drawn sleigh full of kids. It's making me homesick for the old Christmas down at the farm.
Jingle, Jingle, there are strange noises up on my roof. I make out grumbling, inflation, fast pace. I'm getting old. Ho, ho, ho, yes, it is Santa Claus, saying Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

Left: McKirdy Mountain from Valemount.  Right: Snow-covered crab apples on a tree west of Valemount.
Left: McKirdy Mountain from Valemount. Right: Snow-covered crab apples on a tree west of Valemount.
Leonard Frazer photos