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Christmas Cards – House Hopping in Crawford Park

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xmas.tree__1.jpgWhile enjoying the coolness of the basement during the hot, sweltering heat of July, a white rectangular box briefly catches our attention. Wrapped tightly with butcher’s string and strapped between the upper floor joists with bunjee cords, this is its home for eleven months of the year. For now, just one of the many pieces of winter storage, quietly awaiting the arrival of the first snow.

Eyeing the words "Decorative Pine 6-foot Artificial," we think nothing of it and simply walk past it. Until the early days of December finally arrive, and the contents of that plain white box come to life and spark our Christmas spirits awake. As the tree goes up, each ornament has a specific place in our hearts and its own story to go along with it. Stories that are repeated from generation to generation, as each one finds own its place on that old tree.

The oldest ornaments are given the most care. Although, they do not hold any great monetary value, we cherish the tales behind them like gold. Once the tree is set and all floors of the house decorated, the traditional Christmas cards are carefully handwritten and are readied for delivery. With our heavy coats and hats on, we beginning trudging our way through the snowdrifts from house to house, hoping to warm each one with a card and a shared smile. That’s when Christmas really starts!

Winding our way, house-hopping, through the neighbourhood, we are often welcomed in for a cup of tea with longtime friends and neighbours. These are people that you meet all year round, but rarely get a chance to spend a little time with, except at Christmas. Offering a Christmas card and wishing them a Merry Christmas just gets the conversation going, and soon we begin retelling the many stories we shared over the years, and bringing up new ones, all with the greatest of laughs you could imagine.

Some of those stories recapture our love for people that we all knew and that we have lost over the years. That is when the conversation reminds us that we are all connected in more ways than we know. Even though our houses are widely apart, we are all part of one community, a community that is quickly disappearing.

At one time, our Christmas card-hopping adventures would take place over many nights, as we knew people and families in almost every corner of Crawford Park. With many moving away and with many others passing away, there are fewer of these spots to "hop to" these days, allowing us to complete the trip in one night. Those that are still here are held closely to our hearts, as are the wonderful people we know within them. Making each visit that much more bittersweet.

As today, changes happen at the blink of an eye in our old neighbourhood. It is the people that have been here the longest, the people that we all grew up with, the now seniors that knew us as children that are disappearing the fastest. Remaining only in our fondest of memories, of their welcoming smiles, their offer of tea, and their love for their neighbours. Something we rarely see in people today.

As we continue travelling from door to door, we can easily warm ourselves in knowing that we are carrying on a Christmas tradition. One that bonds us to the places we live in and to the special people within them. Before it all finally disappears…and the last cards are handed out …within our Southwest Corners.