Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More Memories at Christmas - Originally posted 2007

Nothing like the Christmas Pops!  A few years ago it was "ladies night out"! I went with our daughter Sarah and two of my dearest friends. If you read one of the previous week's blogs, you now that this was my second time. Lucky me!  Our daughter Rebecca and son-in-law Tyler were singing with the Tanglewood Chorus - a double treat all around!  So the previous week I went with Tyler's mother who was visiting from Utah.

Of course, typical to the weather we'd had so far that month, it was snowing when we headed to Boston. Half way there it was raining and so it continued throughout the evening in Boston. We had dinner at the Bangkok restaurant. Great Thai food! Great Pops! Great company! Great evening!

Heading home, 35 miles north of Boston, the rain became snow as we approached home and it was still snowing come morning. How could we possibly not have a white Christmas.  We did indeed!

Like many of you I'm sure, this season of sights and sounds that have become part of our traditional Christmas bring back memories of times when Mom and Dad were with us as well as our grandparents, aunts and uncles - a time when extended families lived in the same neighborhoods and saw one another just about every day of the year.

I used to love visiting my Mémère/Grandmother and no matter how little I was because she lived nearby I would pop up to her third floor tenement (today these are all called "apartments") just to say hello and give her a hug. Every year she had a crêche that looked like a log cabin that she had always said came from Canada.  I couldn't wait to see it!   She had little angels hanging from the roof of the crêche. She had made little white silk dresses for them and little wings made out of yellow cellophane. Of course, her Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph were just the best and central part of her crêche. I never forgot the experience of going to that crêche and when I was out of school and working, the first thing I did at Christmas time was to put together a crêche of my own.

Christmas Eve we would all go to Midnight Mass. The large church would be full to bursting. When I was little I used to love to sit between my mother and my grandmother. They both had fur coats so when I would get sleepy, I could lean on one or the other and have a nice soft and comfortable "pillow" to doze a bit.  They would wake me when Mass started.

We all looked forward the the "Réveillon" that would take place at the home of our grandparents, our home or one of the aunts or uncles. We all looked forward to those "tourtières" / meat pies, ragou and apple pies that Mémère had been baking for weeks.

Back then we all grew up pretty poor. So seeing in Christmas that way meant everything to all of us. What was important was being family and being together. We did not now what it was like to exchange gifts at Christmas. So we never experienced the commercialism Christmas has become.

My Mémère never spoke English unless she had to so I spoke lots of French while growing up. Our parish school was staffed by the Good Shepherd Sisters knowing better as Les Soeurs du Bon-Pasteur de Quebec. So how could we not but speak French fluently. Our school days began at 7:45a.m. and ended at 3:00p.m. with an hour for lunch. In those days all of the students went home for lunch so because some lived a bit further than others, we needed an hour. The nuns would teach some of our subjects like literature, grammar, history, geography, math in English in the morning and in the afternoon they taught us the catechism, church history, French literature and French grammar in the afternoon. As I say, how could we miss not being fluent in both languages?

While we had our French parish communities, most of which had been founded by our grandparents and great grandparents, we remained fluent in French because we always had the opportunity to speak it and write it. As my cousins and extended families grew up, married and moved away from the neighborhoods that knew our footprints, so changed many of our traditions especially where speaking, reading and writing both languages were concerned. With time we all established our own Christmas traditions also.

Wherever you live and whatever your traditions, I hope you all have great memories of times past for they are worth preserving and worth sharing with our families so those who came before us are never forgotten.


Your cousin Lucie

1 comment:

Lucie LeBlanc Consentino said...

Mary sent this to me and asked that I post it for her.

Subject: Meant for your blog comments
Sent: 22 Dec '10 11:02am
Lucie, even though you and I are in the same generation, your Christmas memories sound like those my mother told. Still, my mother made sure we had Christmas traditions, too, but they didn't include my grandparents
because they lived in the Great Lakes, and we were on the west coast. They were older than most grandparents because they married so late in life; so they didn't travel in bad weather. I wish someone could tell me who put the gifts under the tree when we were at midnight Mass! We came home from Mass, had champagne, even the children, and opened our gifts.
As in your family, a big meal was enjoyed on Christmas afternoon.