Seeing as Sydney, Australia, has already celebrated in the New Year (above), it is fitting I blog about the holidays of my youth in Park Extension. The weather was colder. The snow was taller. The Internet didn’t exist. And we enjoyed every minute of the opportunity to entrench ourselves in the festivities.
It all started at Sinclair Laird Elementary School. Ms.Stokes, the grade 6 teacher who also moonlighted as the music teacher and was in charge of the choir, made sure that the dozen or so of us were prepped and ready for an exemplary rendition of old Christmas carols to be given in the gym on the makeshift shift behind the curious curtains no one ever seemed to give a second thought to between January and December. I was one of the lead carolers, seeing as I had a high pitched voice till the age of 13, when it all fell apart just in time for my metal days. And what a show we gave. I had no concept of shyness back then and Ms. Stokes, in her cockney accent, was a great motivator. The shows were always a success and the parents and guests were very happy and proud.
The above photo is not a great replica. But just imagine us higher on the stage with a full audience looking towards us.
One of the more heartwarming moments for me every year ws buying a Christmas tree. The pine smell just made me feel great and the act of just going to Sun Youth to buy our tree seemed special. And then helping my parents with the ornaments felt great. Yes, I was always a metrosexual, even at a young age. There was a manger we put under the tree where there was Joseph and 3 magi waiting for Jesus to be born. I practiced my choir singing looking at this scene and internalizing it. Strange, yet effective.
Canadian, more precisely French Canadian, winter culture is well portrayed in the painting above. Kids enjoying the outdoors and being at one with nature and its elements. It was a time to build snowmen, slide down big snow banks, play hockey, and even go to the school yard and cross country ski or snowshoe. We came home with red faces and big appetites.
This is a typical snowfall that made us come out and hide from our parents. Remember, there was no Internet, no Xbox, no cell phones. There was less stress. Or maybe we just thought so because kids have no stress, right?
What’s missing these days is the closeness of our neighbours, the interest and involvement of our community in the assurance of the safety of our children without being paranoid, and the sheer enjoyment of activities without fear of funding. Why was it so easy back then? Bitter cold and a lot of snow seem to be a calamity these days because we are sheltering our youth from some unknown danger that has never really surfaced. Maybe ignorance is bliss. Or maybe there is more ignorance now than ever before.
Park Extension is the ultimate place to enjoy the holidays when you’re young. I daresay the adults should enjoy it as well. Let yourselves go free and realise that prosperity is what you make of the definition you’ve chosen to give it.
Click here for Auld Lang Syne.
Have a great year and empower yourselves.