The following post was first published on wordsfromanneli, a blog of stories and ideas including, just now, some real Christmas treasures. Here is Christmas in Spirit River:
In the preceding weeks, of course, there is the bustle of school concerts and town events. The hall is busy with a Festival of Trees, then a Kinette’s Christmas party, then a Peace Ministerial Carol Sing, all in one weekend and all requiring the work of plenty of volunteers. Down at Chepi Sepe Park, an outdoor skating rink attracts children while they wait for Santa, who comes to sit under three shining spruce to hear the little ones’ wishes. Horses arrive, complete with jingle bells and wagons, to pull carolers through the starry night up into the older parts of town, where houses glow with Christmas lights and trees peek out of windows. Anyone looking for a faster ride can get on the wagon pulled by a little John Deere with modern carols streaming through the radio. It’s cold, but huddling and laughter create warmth enough to last until the wagons pull up at the picnic shelter where hot dogs and hot chocolate are waiting. Churches, lodges, staffs and groups of all kinds have their parties; the schools present their plays; the businesses have their sales.
Every weekend there is an exodus of vehicles heading for Grande Prairie, where 50,000 other people are also looking for gifts and deals and groceries and snow shovels. Traffic and line ups, salt and sand, tiredness and tempers! It’s the public side of Christmas at full blast.
And then… people come home from the city and breathe. The air is clear, there is space to move, people are kinder because they know one another. There is no canned music blaring, no sales signs flash. The children are out of school and safely playing on snow piles, constructing slides or castles or just climbing Mount Kill-a-Man Jarrow. Miles of fields in every direction are deep in winter slumber, a vast barricade against the turmoil of larger populations.
On Christmas Eve, people in Spirit River might take a walk or slow drive to see everyone’s lights, perhaps delivering gifts to friends with warm, inviting houses. Christmas Day may find us out at Moonshine Lake or down at Dunvegan, making a fire, skiing, or building snowmen. Mostly we’ll be tucked inside our houses with the turkey and the mistletoe. All is calm. All is peaceful here in Spirit River.
Town Spirit hopes you are “home” for the holidays, wherever you may be!