Christmas Letters

Over the past decades, I’ve always tried to write an annual Christmas letter to family and friends. These yearly letters summarized our family activities and highlighted our proudest moments. A few decades ago, I mailed each one in a Christmas card via Canada Post (also known as snail mail) to all our family and friends. That was the only way to go back in the day. I managed to save a few copies in with my Christmas decorations and I’d like to share them with you over the next few days.
TODAY’S CHRISTMAS LETTER WAS WRITTEN 31 YEARS AGO – DECEMBER 1987, including Original pictures. Here it is, word for word, which was typed on a Commodore 64 computer and printed with our dot-matrix printer.

 

Greetings from the Mellways-on-the-Rideau! Has it been a year already since we sent our best wishes for the season? We’ve been so busy this year that we’ve hardly noticed it go by!

 
Marty has been a full-time delight. Already 16 months old with curly auburn hair and blue eyes, he keeps us hopping and literally on our toes continually. He loves to look at all the colourful Christmas lights and the many birds who visit our window feeder. Christmas ’87 will require some ‘creative decorating’ to say the least!

 
Kristi is five already and just loving Kindergarten! She is full of confidence and energy and more than holds her own with her big brothers. Ballet classes are her latest joy (our little angel in pink tights!!).

 
Taylor still astounds us with his enthusiasm for learning (anything!). Now 7 years old, he participates in Beavers and plays the recorder. He and Kristi are in our community Christmas choir and will perform on December 20th.

 
Darin is almost 11 now and since the beginning of the year has made a conscious decision to become a vegetarian. He’s active in team sports and will be joining the ski club at school in the new year. Finally, Linda will have someone to ski with again!

 
Well, Robin finally surpassed his parents in height hitting 5’5″ at 12 years old! He’s in grade 7 now and still plays the Saxophone in the Intermediate Band. His biggest thrill of the year was flying Air Canada to Chicago with Linda and Marty.

 
Most of Linda’s time is spent Home Making – she even took a 2 month hands-on house building course last winter with baby Marty in tow. It’s been a tremendous help as we finish our home and plan the upcoming renovations to the kitchen and outside veranda addition. In her spare time she continues to practice Midwifery and has recently opened a Breastfeeding Clinic to help mothers and babies.

 
Dean remains active in many aspects of wheelchair sports. He’s still Executive Director of the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association and plays tennis in the summer and sledge hockey in the winter. Look for him at Ottawa’s Winterlude again in February ’88!

 
We’ll be home for Christmas this year with both Linda’s two sisters and their families joining us on Boxing Day for a traditional Christmas get-together ~ turkey with ALL the trimmings, skating on the river, and good times.

 
May you all have a safe and happy Christmas and 1988.

1987 kidswm

L-R: Darin, Robin, baby Marty, Taylor, Kristi

BackyardHousewm

Backyard 1987

 

Front Housewm

Front of our house 1987

 

Cutting Our Christmas Tree

I want to share some pictures with you of our adventure to our favourite Christmas tree farm to cut our Christmas tree.

Livi, Sarah, Melvin, Nellie, baby Josh, Skylar, & Krisit

Some of my children and grandchildren:  Livi, Sarah, Melvin, Nellie, baby Josh, Skylar, & Kristi

 

This year, we were looking for a small tree under 5 feet.  I decided after last year that I didn’t want to move any large furniture to accommodate the tree in the corner.   After wandering around the field for a while, we found the perfect tree and Melvin skillfully cut it down.

Timber!

Timber!

 

Darin and Amanda and the girls were off in another direction looking for their perfect Christmas tree.

Aunt Nellie carried baby Josh around in his baby carrier – even Josh enjoyed himself!

Baby Josh and Aunt Nellie

Baby Josh and Aunt Nellie

 

While we were tying down our trees to the top of our cars, the kids enjoyed horsing around in the snow.

Skylar, Kalia, and Livi

Grandkids Skylar, Kalia, and Livi

 

Then we were off to Darin and Amanda’s house for hot chocolate, chili, and board games (of course!).

Loading up the tree

Loading up the tree

 

Merry Christmas!

 

Our Christmas Tree

I thought I wouldn’t write a post about our Christmas tree this year but I just couldn’t help myself!   Last year, I wrote a story (‘O Christmas Tree’) about cutting down and decorating our tree.  But this year was extra special because Marty and Jeanette are here for Christmas, so I just HAD to write about it and report our adventure to you – my blog, my rules!

Searching for the Perfect Tree

Searching for the Perfect Tree

Last weekend, we drove out to Campbell’s Christmas Tree Farm, a no bells and whistles, no gift shop, no sleigh rides, no complimentary hot beverage…….. and no price gouging family farm.  The trees cost $25.00 instead of the $65.00 cut-your-own trees closer to the city.  They’re pretty low tech with no website or email address………. just cut-you-own Christmas Trees.  All my grown kids who live close by came along:  Darin, Amanda, Kalia, Olivia, Kristi, Mike, Marty, Jeanette, Nellie, Melvin, and myself.  With Darin in the lead, we trudged through somewhat frozen puddles into the bush then back out again searching for that perfect Scotch Pine tree.  Finally, close to the beginning of our adventure, we found the Perfect Tree.

Found!

Found!

So Melvin sawed it down in record time and we brought it back to the car, tied it on the roof, and went back to Darin’s for Chili and Toast.

3 Trees on 3 Cars

3 Trees on 3 Cars

The next day, we brought it into the house and decorated it beautifully.  Our cat has decided that he likes the bottom piece of  garland and takes it off every night, in addition to a few pine trees from my Winter village.

Melvin & Marty decorating the Tree

Melvin & Marty decorating the Tree

I want to share some of my favourite decorations that we’ve collected or made over the years:

Bubble Light

Bubble Light

This Bubble Light is my favourite of all – one of only 2 I have left.  When I was a kid, my next door neighbour had bubble lights like these and I used to stare at them, mesmerized.  I found them for sale again about 20 years ago, but now I can’t buy replacement bubble lights – so I cherish these two.  The glass ampoule is filled with coloured liquid that heats up from the light until it bubbles – cool, really cool.  I also have a mini set that I bought from Avon, I think.

Marty's Star Wars decoration

Marty’s Star Wars decoration

I love this little decoration!  Marty made it when he was about 10 years old – he loves the Star Wars movie trilogy SO much that we just HAD to have a decoration for our tree.  It’s shaped like a Christmas tree ball, two-sided, with cardboard in between.  That’s one fierce battle going on in his depiction of “the Forse is Forever” ornament!

Perce Rock

Perce Rock

I’m fond of this hand carved and hand painted ornament  of our beloved Perce Rock from the Gaspe, on Canada’s east coast.  Since we were children, we’ve been going back to New Carlisle, Quebec to visit relatives.  Every trip included a 2 hour drive to Perce where this famous rock sits in the ocean like a sentry guarding Chaleur Bay.  One year, the town of Perce had a ‘Christmas Shop’ where I found this beautiful depiction of Perce Rock.  I look forward to hanging it on my tree every year in a prominent spot that I can see clearly from my chair.

Grapevine Wreath ornaments

Darin’s Grapevine Wreath ornaments

Darin made me about a dozen of these wild grape vine wreaths for our Christmas tree when he was a young lad.   He did such a good job of winding them around themselves that they’ve never come apart.   I don’t know how many of them I have left as I think that I’ve given him some for their Christmas tree……

Brass Ornament

Brass Ornament

Each one of my children, most of my children-in-law, and grandchildren have their own name on a brass ornament.  I still have to find two more for Jeanette and my newest daughter-in-law Nici.  I’ve looked everywhere in town this year but I have been unable to find any brass ornaments.   So when I do, I will have their names engraved on one just like the rest of the family.

Handstitched Bears in Kenyan Basket

Hand stitched Bears in Kenyan Basket

I received two of these lovely hand-made African baskets from a friend living in Kenya in 1987, when we were both on the Board of Directors of the International Lactation Consultants Association.  I see that this year, Melvin added Nana Lil’s hand-stitched bears to go along for the ride.  Whenever I hang this ornament, I think back to those busy days and fondly remember my friend Helen……

Birdfeeder

Bird feeder

Ice Skates

Ice Skates

Drum

Drum

These Christmas Tree ornaments were made by ‘Church ladies’ and bought at local church Christmas bazaars over the years.  Every year when I take out the Birdfeeder decoration, I’m amazed that the mice haven’t somehow eaten their way into the Rubbermaid container to get at the birdseed in the ornament.   I always wrap this one up in used tissue paper  and put it in a used envelope when I take it off the tree after Christmas.  The knitted drum is really cute:  simply made around a toilet paper roll.  And I love the Ice Skates knit with a paper clip for the blades and attached together with the yarn!  Adorable!

Well those are some of my favourite Christmas Ornaments.  I hope I haven’t bored you…….. I could go on and on – I have alot of favourites!

P.S.  Happy 18th Birthday to my son Melvin!

O Christmas Tree

Yesterday we went out and got our Christmas tree.   It’s always a planned event involving as many of the family as possible.  This year Nellie, Melvin & Kelsey, Kristi & Mike and their 3 foster children, Darin & Amanda and Kalia and Livi, and Me were all searching for our own Perfect Christmas Tree.   The day was perfect:  temperature around -1 C with a bit of a wind chill making it feel abit colder, and the most beautiful blue skies with the occasional timely dusting of snowflakes.

I like to cut our own Christmas Tree, as I mentioned already in my previous blog “Christmas of Years Past”.  The tree always stays fresher longer when it’s cut the same day as it comes into the house.  And I feel that I have to do my part to support the local Christmas tree farmers whose livelihood is depending on us doing business with them.  It’s kinda like “the 100 mile Christmas Tree diet” you could say.  And you can’t beat the price of $25.00!

I’m glad to report that nobody got “lost” this year in the forest.  We all stayed within eyesight of each other and I even wore my bright pink “anyone can find me in a crowd” hat, just in case.  Amazingly, it took less than an hour for each one of us to decide which tree was the perfect Christmas tree for each of our homes!  ALL the kids had a chance to either use the saw to cut the tree or drag the tree back to the cars – what teamwork!!

The only casualty was my car’s muffler: it broke off in the field and we had to throw it into the back of the car!  It was a very noisy ride home!

We all went back to Darin and Amanda’s for hot chocolate and supper of delicious homemade pizza and chicken wings.

It was dark by the time we arrived back home, but by the time I let the dog out and took the tree off the car’s roof, Melvin and Nellie had already re-arranged the livingroom furniture to accomodate the tree.  Melvin got the tree into the house singlehandedly (boy, is he getting strong!), into the tree stand, and up in the corner in 5 minutes flat!  We wired it to a hook in the ceiling to ensure our new little kitten doesn’t knock it over somehow.  I love how the pine scent drifts through the house competing with the hint of wood smoke smell.

SO now, today, we are putting the LED lights AND the few bubble lights I have left, on and all the decorations we’ve accumulated over the past years, like the little bird nest one of the kids found, the mini grapevine wreathes Darin made me about 25 years ago, my 2 Perce Rock decorations, homemade picture decorations of the children, the knitted decorations Gramma Mellway made for us, Young Marty’s paper Star Wars ship he made with “The Forse is Forever” written on it, Nana Lil’s painstakingly homemade popsicle stick mini sleighs for EACH one of us,  brass engraved (thanks again Debbie) ornaments for ALL my kids, spouses, and grandchildren, and now 8 year old Kalia’s crocheted bell!  All to the traditional songs of Christmas music ……played on Satellite radio. lol

Nellie Cutting the Christmas Tree

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