Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas 2010 Rituals of Love

Earlier this fall I went through old photos with Dad - his and Mum’s honeymoon, some of our family travels and their emptynester trips to music conferences around the world. We enjoyed the time together, but I suspect our thoughts were worlds’ apart. It seems impossible to put yourself in your parents’ place, that is, to think about being your own parent. We are so deeply caught in our roles - as children, adults, parents - those relationships we develop are so specific to us it is hard to imagine being someone else.

I thought of these bonds when I found this 1957 photo (I’m the one with the book of course) sitting on the lap of the Eaton’s store Santa. What was my mother thinking when this occurred, aren’t they cute? Thank goodness someone else has them for a minute? But as a child I recall the excitement of the annual Christmas visit, standing in line and then, the young elf helping us up, sitting with Santa for a few hurried words and a flash photo. This was an annual ritual, one of many which became the stuff of our family. My Dad shared hockey with us. Every Saturday we were at the rink early, watching the dads shovel the rink and then, with their encouragement, we played hard, shooting, skating, falling. Our Mum shared music. On our annual road trips, Nova Scotia, EXPO 67, the Rockies, the Grand Canyon, we were taught songs, “the grand old Duke of York, he had ten thousand men...,” and she read books to us. Tintin, then only in French, was a favorite. Only years later I figured out that Mum knew no French, but there was no doubting her ability as minstrel. Through our childhood our parents shepherded us through a shared exploration of the world. These rituals of love linked us together, taught us how to live and gave us the morals and meanings they considered essential to a good world.

I believe this photo carries some essence linking me to my parents, it is a symbol of our link between generations that I want to share with my children. Sharing love is primal. We love our parents as they loved and nurtured us. We love our children, partly because we were loved, but also because we were taught to make children safe, happy and to watch them engage with the world. Our out flowing love brings meaning to our existence. Each ritual of love is a talisman, both creating and memorializing our relationships with each other. Somehow photos, letters and emails, even whispered prayers and special memories, become valued tokens of the love tieing us together.

Our best wishes for a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

David on a late fall river trip.

Andrew at the Mija Jima Shrine near Hiroshima, Japan.

Joy preparing the Thanksgiving turkey at Silver City, Yukon.

Erin and Stephen working together, Okain's Bay, New Zealand.

Family above Okain's Bay, New Zealand on Waitangi Day 2010. I think it's great when the national holiday celebrates the moment when Newcomers made a deal with the Indigenous people to build a country together.

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