7 December 2008

Christmas in Alberta


My mom was on the phone with me today making sure Sonja and I have made all the necessary arrangements for Christmas dinner. "Are you sure you have enough booze?" It was a good question. I keep a lot of booze around the place, you never know when an earthquake or nuclear attack may happen thereby disturbing the liquor distribution system, but getting twenty people hammered will no doubt put a dent in my supply.

Since she was on the phone I asked my mom for a story about Christmas during my childhood on the ice of Alberta. "Well, Beer," she began, "we could not have been more isolated than we were back then. You children used to really fret Santa would miss our hamlet on his way down from the Pole. The only time we ever had family in town for Christmas was the year your uncle drank a bottle and a half of moonshine and beat up the RCMP officer who showed up to coax him down from the roof where he was throwing frozen bottles of beer at the neighbour's houses. He was not permitted in Alberta after that. So usually neighbours teamed up for Christmas. The farmers around there had stills so we always had a whoop-ass party.

"Your dad always took us out to the forest to chop down a Christmas tree just like his father had done with his family in Newfoundland. He would have to chop down quite a few to find one that did not break into fucking pieces when the axe hit it. That's how cold it was in Alberta. What a loathsome province. Eventually he learned to back the car up to a tree and let the car's exhaust thaw the tree out some before he tried to cut it down. And waiting for the tree to thaw gave us time to play in the snow and do some drinking.

"The trees were brown. They were evergreens but it got so god damn cold on the prairies even the evergreens turned brown."

"You hated Christmas in Alberta didn't you mom?"

"Every last one of them."

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

My great-grandparents were homesteaders in Alberta. My grandmother's Alberta Christmas stories were also less-than-flattering. The usual bitter recounting was where she had to take care of her 4 younger brothers and the cows while her father was working in Edmonton and her mother was sneaking off to Calgary for weeks at a time with the homesteading neighbour.