Past Christmas gifts carry special meaning

It will be Trevor Lind’s first Christmas without his best friend around to share it with, but a particular gift from Adam Cain’s parents has helped lift his spirits and strengthen the memory of his fallen buddy during this holiday season.
Lind knew Cain “since we were babies” and the pair grew to become as close as two boyhood pals could be, as did their parents.
Then in September, while Lind was in the midst of trying out for the Fort Frances Midget ‘AA” Canadians, his world was rocked by news that Cain had been killed in a dirtbike accident.
Dealing with the pain of the tragic loss was made easier recently when he received a memento he’ll always treasure as a Christmas offering from Cain’s parents.
“It’s a framed picture of [Cain],” Lind said with an appreciative smile. “On the back, they had a special message that was written as though it was from Adam.
“It says, ‘Live life to your fullest, and when you whisper my name in your heart, I’ll be there.’”
Other Christmas gifts from days gone by that stood out in the minds of various local athletes and coaches ranged from the fashionable to the durable.
Noted squash player and long-distance runner Bob Tkachuk’s favourite recollection has a Wild West flavour attached to it.
“I was a huge fan of the T.V. show ‘Have Gun, Will Travel,’” said Tkachuk. “When I was 10, I got a leather belt like the one Paladin had in the show. It even came with the card holder, just like he had.”
Debbie Murray, head coach of the Fort Frances Cyclones, remembers being brought up in a less than well-to-do household, where food and clothing took precedence over luxury items.
But thanks to the sacrifices of her parents, she received a present as a 13-year-old that made her gleam with pride during her future excursions to the swimming pool for practice.
“I had been part of competitive swimming for two years,” said Murray. “My sister and I were still bringing our suits to the pool in Safeway bags. That Christmas, we got our very own swimming bags, with individual compartments and everything.
“We felt like we really had stepped up to another level.
“Then there were the Peter Pan dresses myself and my four sisters all got in the same year when I was 10,” she added with a laugh. “They had this pink checked design on them, and were probably one of the ugliest dresses you could imagine.  “But we were on Cloud Nine with them on.”
Muskie senior girls’ volleyball player Melanie Pierce was knocked out to receive a CD player at nine years of age—and that feeling was nearly literally shared by the sound system itself.
“We had opened all the gifts under the tree, but there was one left with no tag on it,” recounted Pierce. “I had got my first-ever CD in one of my earlier presents, “The Sign” by Ace of Base. But I was never expecting anything like a CD player.
“When I opened it, it was so beautiful. But then I put it on the couch, and my brother [current Muskie boys’ hockey player David Pierce] knocked it off and dented one of the speakers.
“Later in the day, it was sitting on a bench near the front entrance of the house, and fell off and dented the other speaker.
“But I’ve still got it today, and it still works,” she added.