The Twelve Days of Christmas

Double the Christmas gift.

As I wrote last column, welcoming a baby grandson into the world was truly a gift. That was the First Day of Christmas. On the Second Day of Christmas, I went looking for a gift for my sister. I searched and then I found a photograph, taken of the two of us about 1972. So, I went to a local photo place and the guy said he could duplicate it, but that he didn’t normally adjust for contrast and brightness.

“But in the spirit of the season,” young Michael said, “I’ll see what I can do.”

Thoughtful, I’d say. Unexpected gifts are the best.

All you need in winter

I had worked late into this particular winter’s night. I could have stayed in the city overnight. But I felt I should try to get home through the snowstorm. In Saskatchewan, that wasn’t a smart idea. And when I left the highway that February night, I encountered snowdrifts too deep and broad for my 1967 Valiant to penetrate. It was 3 a.m. and I was stuck in a snow bank miles from anybody. (And this in a day with no cell phones).

“Never abandon your car in a snowstorm,” I recall all of my experienced prairie friends telling me. And yet that’s exactly what I did to try to get help. I managed to reach a farmhouse, call my brother-in-law and he roared down the grid road in his four-wheel-drive truck and pulled me out.

“Don’t ever do that again,” he scolded me.

“Except, I know you’ll rescue me,” I joked. He wasn’t amused.

Winter weather is not to be trifled with, whether in the middle of a frozen prairie or on a frigid downtown street.

The Christmas shepherds

The Shepherd, painting by Lauren Grace O'Malley, courtesy Vintage Wings of Canada
The Shepherd, painting by Lauren Grace O’Malley, courtesy Vintage Wings of Canada

They are the most soothing and at the same time perhaps the most mysterious symbols of Christmas. They appear in carols, in the Bible, in Christmas cards and just about every nativity scene one could imagine. They are seldom quoted, but always acknowledged as trusted and worthy guides to a safe and protected place.

“And there were in the same country,” it says in the Book of Luke, “shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night…”