Monday, December 28, 2020

Last of our Christmas Memories


From Linda:   

It is difficult to decide on one memory so I will tell you of one that happened soon after I was married.   My husband and I and our friends, Janice and Denise, planned on spending Christmas with friends who had recently moved to Vancouver.  This couple had been our neighbours when we lived in Edmonton and they had a young daughter and an infant son.Travelling was out of the question for them so we travelled to Vancouver to spend the holidays with them.

Our friend Chris was cooking the dinner and, being busy with her young family, she didn’t like a lot of mess. So to our horror after dinner was over she took all of the leftovers, and put them in a black garbage bag and threw them in the trash.

Like the good guest we were we said nothing, and our hosts went to bed early as they would need to get up early with their children.  After about an hour we decided it was time for the after dinner turkey and stuffing sandwich.  So the four of us snuck out to the trash to get the fixings for our snack.  Of course we woke our hosts who were horrified to find us going through the trash to find turkey fixings.  We all had a good laugh, but were never invited for Christmas dinner again.


From me:

Like others have mentioned, Christmas in our house was full of laughter and music and an abundance of relatives. It is hard to pick just one particular memory from the large picture. Instead, I've found myself remembering a recurring theme -- Christmas Eve. 
After we came home from church, our service was at 7:00 pm, we'd settle around the Christmas tree and savour the peace. That time seemed holy to me. The frenzy of preparation was over, the pandemonium of Christmas morning not yet begun. In a way, this was the true time of Advent, the quiet anticipation of great joy, a moment to kneel at the manger.
Often we had only the tree for light. We might sing a carol or two. Mom would read the Christmas story from Luke in the King James Version. Most of us could recite the words with her, they were so familiar and so precious. 
As my generation grew older and left home, we cherished even more that time on Christmas Eve, when we gathered together as a family again.
Covid 19 robbed us of our usual Christmas celebrations in 2020, but in an odd way, it gave me back that golden time on Christmas Eve. I miss my extended family, but memory is rich with their beloved faces and the telephone is easily within reach. 
As Christmas season draws to a close, may you all know the joy of that moment by the manger.  

Monday, December 21, 2020

More Memories

The link to this week's livestreamed service is

My request for memories of past Christmases went to a number of the congregation. Some answered right away, some took a while, and some are still to come, (I hope.)

Here's a selection of this week's memories.

From Gladys: 

Good morning Alice:  I think this will be the most memorable Christmas for all of us!!!!!!!!!!!!  Let's look back to the good times, and look ahead for more to come.  God willing!    

From Al and Irene:  

Our family loves Christmas! Making memories has always been an important part of our Christmas activities.

One of our fondest memories is when our children were young. Our annual trip to a Forest Reserve where we could cut down a tree, chosen by the children in -35C. weather. After trudging through six feet of snow back to the parking lot, we gathered around a bonfire to roast wieners and marshmallows served with hot chocolate. you can appreciate getting the fire started with wet branches was no easy feat either!

Our first Christmas on the Island left quite an impression as well. We moved on December 17, 2012 to a nearly empty house. Our kids and grandkids all came home a week later. We had no furniture except for a card table and four chairs. Somehow we managed to put up a tree and we all sat around on the floor playing games, eating and listening to Christmas music. This lasted for a week! It was quite hilarious but a wonderful family time which none of us will ever forget!

Slide shows of our many Christmases past have become a much anticipated and appreciated part of our more recent celebrations. We all look forward to resuming these after Covid19.

From Kay:

  One year, shortly after we'd moved our here, we decided to surprise the family and show up at Syl's sister's place in Toronto. We arrived just in time for dinner on Christmas Day. Boy, were they surprised to see us! There was plenty of food -- it was Christmas after all -- and we tucked in at the table. I remember the candied yams were the best I'd ever tasted. Laughter, food, family -- a great Christmas memory. 

Noel had more anecdotes to relate about Christmas at SPPC:

Just before Christmas at SPPC circa 1993 he was dealing with a horde of children in the Sunday School, ready to put on the Christmas pageant. At that time the roles of Joseph and Mary were played by adults and the children did everything else. Also, in those days, Noel did double duty in the pulpit and the choir. The dual roles kept him hopping. So, when the man (a pilot) playing Joseph got a call to work just before show time Noel was in a panic thinking he'd have to preach, sing AND get into costume. To his great relief he has an ace for a son-in-law. Yvon stepped into the breach and played the role of Joseph, leaving Noel with only two other responsibilities.

Also at SPPC, during the practice for yet another Christmas pageant all the little angels were lined up and recited the line "and the angel said onto them," when a little voice piped up with "I need to go to the bathroom."  --A memorable announcement! 

Thanks to everyone for sharing their Christmas memories. I've got some more coming next week. Meanwhile here's a photo of one of my Christmases in Ontario. 


Monday, December 14, 2020

Christmas Past


The year 2020 will be remembered as the year Christmas was cancelled! 

So, I've asked members of the congregation to share their best memory from Christmases past. 

Kay says all her Christmas memories are wonderful. This year will be memorable because of what it is not. Meanwhile, she is very happy with her living arrangements. The facility has created ways for residents to dine together, exercise and socialize in a safe way.

Janet S. writes: 

One of my favourite Christmas memories was 50 years ago. 

I was a house mother at a Dr. Barnardo's Home in Canterbury and so I didn't generally get to spend Christmas at my home, I was with the children.
However, in 1970 I had just had my tonsils out and I was at my home following the surgery. 
It snowed that Christmas and I had big plans for Boxing day. 
Peter was scheduled to come down from his home in Ilford, Essex to Folkestone, Kent where I lived, (about 80 miles apart) as that was the day we were to get engaged!
I remember standing there, looking out of the window, waiting, waiting, waiting and hoping he would make it safely. I thought he'd never come because of the snow, (no cell phones in those days) but the wait was worth it! He did finally arrive 2 hours late, along with his brother, I'm not sure if David came for moral support or to help him in case of problems on the road. However, Peter finally arrived safely and in one piece and we became officially engaged and were married in March. We left England in August and came to live in Sidney on Resthaven Drive, the rest is history.
It was definitely a day of hope, peace, joy and love for me. 
That wait was so worth it, as is the wait now to  celebrate Christ's birth and ultimately for His return.

Noel related a few anecdotes from his years in ministry. The first was while he was still a student at Knox college in 1978. One of his professors invited a group of students to his home during the Christmas season. When they got there they discovered a room decorated for the season, the lights dimmed, and large cushions scattered on the floor. The students sat on the cushions in the twilit room and shared their thoughts on Knox College, belief, the role of religion, as well as some personal stories about their lives. At the end of the evening, their professor administered communion. Was it the setting, the shared talk or the intimacy of the situation? Whatever the reason, that evening has stayed as a highlight in Noel's memory.

The second story comes from his time at his first charge in Medicine Hat in the mid-1980's. Christmas Eve the church was packed, all but the front row. At a minute before the service started six of his friends came racing in and had to sit right in front of him, although their usual pew was at the very back. He noticed they were giggling and whispering, "Did anybody lift the scissors?" These were special friends of his, four Scots and two Irish, and their odd behaviour puzzled him until the drove home after the service. There, strung across the front of the manse, illuminated by large flood lights that had the neighbours gawking, was a large banner reading, "Happy 50th Birthday, Noel." The friends had to wait until he'd gone to church before putting up their banner. Hence their late arrival at the service and their glee at the surprise they knew awaited him.

Later in his ministry, Noel's daughter and family had moved to Victoria but, as a minister, he could not join them for Christmas celebrations. Instead, in January he and Edna came to Victoria for a second Christmas with family, complete with gifts, carols, a tree and candles. The grandchildren thought it was perfect!

Stay tuned, next week I'll have more of Noel's memories to share.

My cat, self-isolating

Monday, December 7, 2020


 The link for all our live-streamed services is:

As event after event is cancelled in 2020 we all feel sorrow and disappointment. No parties, no church, no symphony concerts, no "Messiah" performances, no children and grandchildren coming home for the holidays.  How can they cancel Christmas? 

Yet, in other years, don't we complain about this same hustle and bustle robbing Christmas of its true meaning? We are a contrarian bunch!

In the spirit of making lemonade when life hands out lemons, let's look for positive ways to use the unexpected quiet of this Advent to bless our lives. Here are a few suggestions:

  • With fewer people coming to dinner, use the money you save to increase your charitable donations.  There is enormous need in our community. 
  • Tune in to SPPC's weekly live-stream service, but make it special. Create your own Advent wreath. Light the candles of hope and peace, joy and love in order as they are lighted at church. Turn off distractions.

  • There are many, many recordings of "Messiah" available. If you have one in your collection of cd's or even lp's at home, make a date with your household to attend a "concert." Put on your concert clothes, sit quietly and really listen. Don't use it as background noise for a different activity. Listen as you would in the concert hall. Hear the beauty of the music and the passion of the words. If you want a sing-along version led by Canada's Tafelmusik go here.
  • If you love baking for Christmas, go ahead and make your favourite cookies. You can share them with friends and neighbours from a distance. You'll have the reward of giving without the expectation of a cup of tea in exchange.
  • Write Christmas cards, or make some of your own. With extra time on your hands this is a great way to stay in touch with loved ones. It's quick and easy to send an e-mail, but a real card in the mail will bless both the giver and receiver in other ways. There is nothing like the personal touch to make people feel valued.

  • Wait. Remember that Mary spent nine months preparing for the birth of Jesus. We can use the quiet of Advent 2020 to prepare a place in our lives and our hearts for the Saviour. We can read the Christmas stories in the Bible. We can do Advent devotionals. We can set up a nativity scene and spend time contemplating each of the characters in it. Do you empathise with Mary and Joseph, the new parents? Do you feel more like the shepherds come in from the fields to witness and earth-changing event? Or are you a sage from a distant land drawn to worship a King from a different realm?        

   These are only a few suggestions. I'm sure each of you has unique ways to make Advent, waiting, meaningful and sacred. Please share your ideas in the comments section below. You might help someone else.

Last week Pastor George reminded us that our times are in God's hands. None of us wants to live through a pandemic, but the Israelite's didn't want to live under Roman rule either. 
 It is easy to look back and see God moving through history. It is not so easy to live it. But with God's help, we can make Christmas 2020 a time of spiritual enrichment. 

Thanks to Jerusha for the photos of our church decorations.