These days the Christmas Season in the Peace Country is full of trips to Grande Prairie to buy supplies at box stores and see Santa at the mall. We put up sparkly decorations and electric lights, watch Christmas specials on tv, and use Face Time or Skype to keep up with relatives at a distance. Obviously it wasn’t always so in the Peace.
An early settler of the region, Peter Gunn, kept a journal His entry for December 25, 1891 reads: “Christmas Day, not much stir around here. Santa Claus forgot to visit us, and no wonder, anybody who could stay away will and be in no hurry to pass Xmas here. All the same it is a very fine day, and may the world at large enjoy a Merry Christmas.”
With luck, the hardy folks of the time could afford a day or a few hours of rest, if not merriment, at Christmas. At the time, it took about a day’s work to survive for a day – cutting wood for cooking and warmth, growing crops and vegetables, harvesting and storing them, hunting, feeding livestock, constructing shelters, hauling water, moving snow, making roads, cutting ice for the icehouse, preserving food, cooking, curing and packing furs, trading, mending and planning – all that would have left little time for scrawling Christmas cards.
Still, when it came right down to it, the celebrations of Christmas past and present are probably not so different. As long as we feel the immensity of a clear starry sky and warm with thoughts of our fellow beings, and recognize all those things that are most dear to us all, we carry the unchanging spirit of the season within us.
And so, to echo the spirit of Christmas past, may the world at large enjoy a merry Christmas. Merry Christmas, everyone!