Christmas gifting solved

For this Christmas, my gift situation seemed overwhelming! Any attempt to make known how much I appreciated everyone I owed for their thoughtfulness all year would be far beyond my resources, but it’s said desperation is the cousin of inspiration. So suddenly, by good luck, I found the answer. A poinsettia plant had been placed on McDonald’s counter by friends in memory of the late Georgina Peloquin—and my own good friend, too. That, coupled with a wonderful Christmas message from her daughter in Manitoba, solved most of my problems. Through Mary Lou Boileau at McDonald’s, I decided on poinsettias for everyone I owed! We went into the Christmas Store where an old friend, Jim Lowey, was trying to brighten the entire area with his gorgeous flowers. Immediately I decided to salute the entire McDonald’s staff for their year-long kindness and then branched out with more than an extra score of those red flowers for other friends. I hoped Jim would have enough of those flowers left for other customers, but I was happy to find his well-stocked shelves first. It turned out his greenhouse held plenty and the price was generous! It was a pleasure to have known him for years, both as a relative of my late wife and son-in-law of the late Joe Vanderhorst, for whom I had worked right after high school while enjoying the great company and meals out there around “Van’s” gardens. So my happiness came full circle between old friends helping out with new friends I have made recently, and I’ll never forget this Christmas! When the legendary “spirit of giving” became so memorable! And yes, I managed to keep a very fine poinsettia to help me to remember also. I did not know these plants can continue producing extra blossoms—and mine, which only had two to begin with, now is covered completely with those big red flowers. Having come out of the Lowey and Vanderhorst greenhouse, my poinsettia reminds me of a great summer spent gardening there so long ago. The Vanderhorsts that year still were operating a vegetable store on Scott Street and had increased their family size with three orphans from the victim of the “hot stove” murder case (Mrs. Jamieson).
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Police supervision on the local high school unrest has not completely suppressed anxieties as I learned from my student friends. Students are predominately nervous, I was told last week. The current situation is unprecedented in my experience, both as a former student here and through having my own children enrolled. Incidents described are completely unfamiliar here and it seems that lax supervision, coupled with modern conditions, are to blame. This situation was showing up recently in dress styles allowed in the school. While nothing so scary as current threats were heard, there was evidence of loose styles going on in the girl students’ scant clothing. Such styles would have sent them home to change in earlier times. When our old principal, the late J.R. Townshend, noticed male students unshaved, for instance, he would come along, leather strap in pocket, and order boys, who intended to look older in order to frequent bars, to “stand a little closer to your razors!” Girls said to be ringleaders in the present scene were never allowed to wear such revealing clothing as too low blouses or too short shorts—even tight jeans were not considered proper for girls. Mothers, upon learning their students were sent home for improper clothing, would support teachers’ views on proper clothing and expect school officials to notify parents concerning whatever they observed as wrong. I never knew any policemen walking into the schools about anything concerning student behaviour during my school career in this town. This may have occurred, but very rarely I’m sure. And Mr. Townshend, whether or not he has learned about modern troubles as he rests in his wartime grave in Ireland, may be wondering whatever happened to the long-ago tranquility he helped preserve!
• • •
Kay Veert, whom I seem to remember from before she married Laurie, is among our most sociable citizens and always mixes cheerfulness into conversations very well.. Such citizens contribute much to the Christmas spirit and keep it happy all year long. Our old hometown includes many like her.
• • •
“Nutty” came rushing up full of Christmas greeting for all his fans and hoping everyone can send him more and more peanuts for the coming year because life ahead for Nutty is mostly about tons of peanuts. (Unfortunately for all our grocers, Nutty doesn’t care that there is very little profit for them in peanuts!)
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Cousin Jerry McFarland arrived from Minneapolis in his second Subaru, having lost the first in a collision with a deer. That was before he discovered the defence. “I’ve got those deer noise things lalarms] on my bumper now!” he reports. Like so many others with damages from the same area, Jerry says his accident occurred north of Warroad! Anywhere at the north end of Minnesota and en route to Winnipeg can offer damages hitting a deer. And I’ve always feared Sandilands since hauling cattle to Winnipeg via the U.S. route. Deer always abounded along there!
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Hopefully the New Beginnings Fellowship at the far east end of town is as large as it looks! The free Christmas dinner planned there on Monday (Dec. 25) may attract numbers of diners never seen elsewhere here.
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Having learned there are seven sisters of Gordie Calder, I’ve heard of so many also in other local families. Eileen McGee, for instance, who was one of three district Armstrong singers years ago, also has seven daughters. Having only had three daughters myself, I feel cheated.
• • •
Local war brides were feted at a special dinner here last Monday (Dec. 11), though with many fewer members than years ago. Sadly, survivors at present are fewer than 20 it seems! But they’re still as beautiful as ever, judging from the photo of the wife of my cousin, Claude McFarland, on the front page of the Daily Bulletin last Tuesday with Santa. Penny came from Edinburgh and that picture probably will start a stampede of Canadians towards Scotland immediately.
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A very joyous Christmas is expected among the Vandettis since my daughter-in-law, Laureen, won the $35,000 first prize in the Legion draw on Friday night! This coincided with son Earl’s plans to purchase a new car. While he was out of town, no doubt Laureen will phone him to go right ahead!

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