Monthly Archives: December 2013

Monday December 2, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

For the longest time, the Sears catalogue was our window into the world of new toys. Every Christmas, the special edition came out and was devoured upon delivery. These days the big box stores have it all right there, and the Internet will find you anything “unique.” The catalogues are smaller now and feature clothing, mostly. Parents can pick and purchase toys before the book even comes out. Another tradition bows to instant availability!

Tuesday December 3, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

The crawl space in the strip was based on the one we had in our Lynn Lake house. The entrance was about three feet square with a door you pulled off and set to the side. The space inside was wide and went right under the house, which made for some dark and spooky spaces. Just inside the entrance, however, the kids had a playhouse, which saw a lot of action during the long, cold winter months. The crawl space was awkward to get into and a dusty place to store things, but we used it all the time!

Wednesday December 4, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

Putting up Christmas lights on our log house was a challenge. The high peaked roof was a difficult place to climb, and the sides were hard to reach because of a glass porch we’d installed. When we learned that some folks were putting up smaller lights and leaving them all year ’round, we did the same. Still, the image of Dad having to struggle with Christmas lights every year was too good to abandon in the strip!

Friday December 6, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

Katie was much too big, but she insisted on riding in the shopping cart baby seat. I told her repeatedly that it wasn’t a good idea, but I gave in. As soon as she was settled, she was stuck. I told her to be patient, that we’d get her out when I paid for the groceries. She wailed. The man at the meat counter came out from behind the showcase and lifted Kate’s upper half while I pushed her feet. We extracted her without injury. I said nothing. I didn’t have to!

Sunday December 8, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

When they first came out, answering machines were a new toy for everyone. Some folks were horrified by the thought of leaving a recorded message, while others became instant hosts of their own daily show. I loved the way folks said, “Hi, I’m not here right now.” as if they had gone to that place on “the other side.” It was hard to record it right the first time, so I found saying repeatedly that I wasn’t there depressing. Kids enjoyed the anonymity and entertained themselves by irritating anyone who had this device, but eventually we all became accustomed to and dependent on the answering machine. Now we’re adapting to much more sophisticated toys!

Saturday December 14, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

Sure enough, a man from Ohio sent a letter telling me that he had indeed broken his foot by lifting a heavy frozen turkey by the tag, breaking the wire tie. The worst part of his injury, he confessed, was that nobody felt sorry for him. He said that as soon as they heard how it happened, they laughed. “If I had been skiing or hiking and had broken my foot, I’d have had some sympathy!” he moaned. I sent him a strip. He wrote back to say it made him feel better!

Sunday December 22, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

We always had bubble lights on our tree when Alan and I were young. They were our favourite ornaments. We loved to play with them and take them apart. One Christmas, Alan was very sick. He had a high fever, and just to prove it, he put the glass tube from a bubble light in his mouth — and it bubbled! What a nifty thermometer! We thought Mom would be angry, but she wasn’t. When you’re feeling miserable on Christmas morning, anything that makes you smile is just fine.

Wednesday December 25, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

I have always been uncomfortable around guns — even toy guns. Aaron, like most boys, ran around with his friends shooting sticks or fingers or whatever they could find that was shaped like a firearm. When a relative sent him a realistic toy gun, he was thrilled and I was upset. If he had any gun at all, I thought it should be purchased by his parents and given to him along with a stern lecture about weaponry, war, and the seriousness of shooting living things.

Thursday December 26, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

Christmas has always been my favourite time of year. I start looking for the perfect gifts in January and continue on until December. Funny stuff is best, and when I find the perfect thing for the perfect person, I can hardly wait to wrap it and give it away. Maybe it’s because we had so little when I was young that makes shopping such a treat. My brother and I were lucky to get one special toy. Anything else had to be useful — like clothes or school supplies. We learned to save and to spend judiciously. When birthdays or Christmas came the suspense was awful; knowing we might get something we had been longing for — if we could afford it. Even now I wonder what our parents did without so Alan and I could have something special for Christmas.

Our parents were adept at making ends meet. Even though we had little to live on, we had everything. In looking back, I can see that we had what mattered most: a solid, caring family, a comfortable home, good friends, and confidence in future. This is what I tried to portray in For Better or for Worse. No matter what happened, there was always something good to look forward to.

Friday December 27, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

When I was in grade one, I had a friend called Carol Mayes who had survived polio and walked with crutches. (The character Gordon Mayes was named for Carol.) I often went to the washroom with her because she needed help. I also carried her books and her lunch box when she walked home. I was fascinated by her, and when kids began to tease me saying I only liked Carol because I wanted to play with her crutches, I was confused. Did I really like her because of that? It’s true, I did like to swing on her crutches and I did find her fascinating because of the scars she had from multiple surgeries. I just thought she was neat.

She had been held back several grades because of her illness, and she struggled with spelling and reading. I was a good reader, and our teacher asked me to help her, which I did. The kids who accused me of liking Carol because she had crutches were also jealous of the way I had been singled out to read with her at the back of the room. They eventually had an effect on me. As a small child, I had no way of explaining my friendship. I wanted to be accepted, and I wanted to be liked. I slowly separated myself from Carol, and was relieved when she was sent to another school. Carol was gone. The crutches were gone. I was the same as all the other kids and glad to be so.

I often think of Carol. Her strength of character, the way she thrust herself forward, dragging her feet, the way she smiled through the pain and the curious stares. I recall as if it was yesterday. Now I can say why I liked Carol. Of all the kids in my class, she impressed me as having the most to give — the one who outshone us all.

Sunday December 29, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

The wildest New Year’s Eve party we ever had was in our newly finished rec room in Lynn Lake. Everyone we knew was invited — which meant half the town. Being very rural Manitoba, the pharmacy was also the liquor store, and I went in to order some liqueurs for the occasion. Behind the cash register along the top shelf, pharmacist Bob Clarke had about ten bottles of liqueur on display. When he asked what I wanted to order, I said, “One of each.” He knew we were new to town and smiled. Bob then proceeded to order from Winnipeg every kind of liqueur available. Two large, heavy boxes arrived. I was speechless. I had no idea he’d order so many — I was unaware that he was a bit of a prankster. When I looked at him in disbelief, he smiled and said, “Well, you said to order one of each!” To save face and our relationship with the pharmacy, I clenched my teeth and paid for the entire shipment. Ours was suddenly the best stocked rec room in town, and New Year’s Eve went on until well into the morning.

This isn’t the end of the liqueur story. When we moved to North Bay, along with our boxes of clothing and household goods were the remaining bottles of liqueur. These bottles stayed in our cupboard for years. Aaron left home to seek his fortune, and Katie, now a high school graduate and of legal drinking age, took a bartending course in preparation for summer employment. She wanted to show us some of her skills. She did an inventory of our liquor cabinet and discovered that the contents of every cream- or egg-based liqueur had become like a solid block of cheese inside the bottle. I laughed out loud as I shook the contents, which made a dull, wet thud against the glass. Kate was shocked, “Don’tcha know these things have a shelf life?” It was obvious that we don’t drink much, and neither do our friends. We have had many parties since, but none have been as memorable as the New Year’s bash with its extensive variety of liqueurs!

Monday December 30, 2013

Lynn’s Notes:

Our log house had an opening next to the top stair, just before you stepped up to the second floor. It was a perfect spy-hole from which the kids could watch what was going on downstairs in the living room. We knew it was there, but we’d forget. Many an evening’s get-together was monitored by two silent, pyjama-clad spies, who went undiscovered — unless they snickered or fell asleep at their post!