Christmas Memories

An Invitation ….

Capture the Christmas spirit of the 1950s, the Christmas decorations, the Christmas stocking, Santa Claus and his gifts, Christmas concerts and Christmas carols ringing out through starry nights in a new book of stories …

In When Christmas Came to the Village I recall memories of my childhood in Hyde Park, Ontario, Canada, a rural community in London Township, at the corner where a concession and sideroad met. Now part of the City of London, the village at that corner could have been any village, anywhere, except for the people who made life there special.

I hope you enjoy it … Judy Colbert

When Christmas Came to the Village is dedicated to the memory of my mother and father, Evelyn and Whitney Colbert, who ensured that my sister, Nancy, and I had happy Christmas memories, to those who shared those memories and helped make them possible, and to those who settled and lived in our village of Hyde Park and created the traditions we cherish so much.

ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!

READ MORE ABOUT THE BOOK

A Christmas Gift Idea for 2012 –

A stocking stuffer or an oversized greeting card!

To find out about Welcoming Newcomer Children, Judith’s book on the settlement of young immigrants and refugees, go to www.welcomingchildren.ca

The Book

Step back in time … then … look to the future …

When Christmas Came to the Village provides a modern context for my childhood memories. Here is what you will find inside:

  • Introduction
  • When Christmas Came to the Village
  • The Christmas Tree
  • Why Santa Brought Skates
  • Christmas Eve in the Village
  • Afterword – Christmas Present and Future
  • Plus – A Note about our House on the Cover

Here are some samples …

Decorating the Tree

  • Did you help decorate your tree?
  • Did you pass your decorations down from year to year?
  • Were some of them lovingly made at home and cherished through the years?

I have included memories of decorating our tree in the following passage from my story, “The Christmas Tree” …

In the Christmases of my childhood, our tree was always special. The first one I remember stood at the end of the long living room in our farmhouse near Hyde Park where I lived until I was seven years old. In my mind’s eye, I can still see the old-fashioned crinkled silver tinsel that circled its boughs and our odd collection of shiny balls that hung here and there in the greenery.

But what really made the tree special, were the lights – a real treat in a rural world where neon was unknown and street lights, rare.  Magic as they were, our beloved lights were a great deal of trouble, and quite often, stubbornly dark. Since the strings of lights were wired in series, when one bulb was loose or burned out, none of the others would work. Before the strings could be draped over the tree, each bulb had to be carefully checked, tightened and replaced as necessary. Since a bulb could “go” at any time, on or off the tree, it was fatal if the replacements ran out. Still, when the lights were working and in place, all the effort was worthwhile.

Our decorating did not stop with lights. Little as I was, I “helped” take long, shiny silver icicles from their cardboard home and drape them over the branches. We had to hang the delicate strands carefully, not touching the lights, but close enough that they reflected and magnified their glow.

At the very top of the tree, my father fixed a silver star my mother had made in years past from cardboard and shiny paper with a cluster of tiny silver balls positioned in the centre to hide its wire fastener. To enhance the effect, he arranged the lights so that a white bulb was attached to the highest point of the tree, to create a halo just behind the star.

At its foot, the tree was firmly anchored with wires to a wooden base my father had devised. The arrangement was covered with a clean white sheet to give the effect of snow. It was here that our gifts were laid out for Christmas Day…. continues

The Christmas Potluck

  • What about the food?
  • What were your favourite Christmas dishes?
  • Did you have a turkey dinner or a potluck supper where everyone shared?

Here are some of my memories from the Christmas potluck suppers at our village church, from my story, “When Christmas Came to the Village”…

Our Sunday school concert started with a pot luck supper. It really began in the late afternoon when the women came to get everything ready for the food that would appear gradually as families arrived for the evening. By then, the auditorium had been cleared of desks although the school Christmas tree remained. Long tables were set up with white cloths and fancy table centres, as well as Christmas napkins and a serving of tomato juice at every place. It was all very festive. Just before everyone sat down, great bowls and platters of food were placed on the tables where, after the blessing, they would be passed family style. It is a safe to assume they held sliced ham (turkey being reserved for the holiday), several varieties of scalloped potatoes and baked beans, and a selection of jellied salads – my mother’s favourite was a lemon jelly with pineapple and grated carrot, garnished with a maraschino cherry…. continues

Bonus Recipe!

Evelyn’s Favourite Lemon Jelly with Pineapple

To make my mother’s favourite jelly salad, you will need

  • 1 (6 ounce) package lemon flavoured gelatin mix
  • 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained with juice reserved
  • 4 large carrots (approx), shredded
  • 1 Maraschino cherry, cut in slivers
  • 1 sprig of parsley
  • 1 large bowl suitable for your festive table – glass or crystal shows off the colours of the salad best

When you have assembled everything you need,

  • Prepare the lemon gelatin according to package directions using reserved pineapple juice in place of some of the water. Refrigerate until thickened, about 1 hour.
  • When the gelatin has thickened, stir in pineapple and shredded carrot.
  • Gently arrange the cherry slivers to make a Christmas flower on the top and add bits of parsley for leaves.
  • Cover and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.

Serve in the bowl and watch everyone enjoy.

The House

A Note about our House on the Cover

Ours was always the house at the end of the sidewalk, unofficially the beginning of our village as you approached it from the north. Constructed in the early 1890s – according to the recollection of a neighbour – our house which still stands is typical of its time. It is a two-storey L-shaped structure, built of what was always described as local white brick. Its exterior charm stems from the ornate brackets that seem to support the eaves and from the gingerbread decorations across its wide veranda.

Inside, I think of the holiday meals my mother loved to prepare, my father carving the golden turkey at the head of our dining table and, in the great living room, the large Christmas tree by the window decorated with ornaments and lights handed down through the years, the rows of colourful Christmas cards hanging on ribbons strung high up across the walls, and from our handsome new record player,  the music of Bing Crosby and Guy Lombardo (a former Londoner and my father’s favourite) filling the air.

Through the mid-fifties and beyond, our house at the end of the sidewalk provided a large and generous setting for family life and for celebrating when Christmas came to our village. Its character and spirit are captured in the much-treasured likeness reproduced on the cover from an original drawing by the late London artist, Silvia Clarke.

About the Artist – Silvia Clarke

Silvia Clarke (1911-1994) was born in England. After moving to Canada, she settled in London, Ontario, where she was a well-known member of the art community. She worked in a number of media but is perhaps best known for her drawings of London homes and buildings, many of which were reproduced in a series of note cards published by the Gallery Shop at the London Regional Art Gallery (now Museum London). In 1991 she was recognized in the Mayor’s New Year’s Honour List for her contribution to architectural conservation in London. Her drawing of the Colbert House in Hyde Park was completed in 1985.

Order

When Christmas Came to the Village is a great gift idea…

  • For yourself – it will bring back memories.
  • For friends and family – it will bring back memories and for those who are younger, it will give them a glimpse of “the way we were.”
  • For staff and clients – it is an easy way to share the spirit with others.
  • For newcomers and others who did not celebrate Christmas as children – it will introduce a new tradition.
  • For Santas everywhere – it is a great stocking stuffer.

When Christmas Came to the Village

  • 34 pages, 8” x 8,”Glossy Stock, Full Colour Illustrations
  • $12.95 (Canadian currency) / Applicable taxes and shipping extra

ISBN 978-0-9867463-1-4

To Order: Volumes – www.volumesdirect.com or 1-888-571-2665, Chapters, Amazon

Note:

  • JUDITH HAS ALSO WRITTEN A COMPANION BOOK ABOUT VILLAGE LIFE  – LOOK FOR When School Came to the Village which is also available through Volumes, Chapters or Amazon.

Information: info@villagechristmas.ca


 

While you are on the web, look for Welcoming Newcomer Children, Judith’s book about the settlement of young immigrant and refugee children at www.welcomingchildren.ca. It is also available at volumesdirect.com or amazon.com or chapters.ca

Media Release

For Immediate Release                                                                                            15 November 2011

Announcing a New Book of Stories that Capture the Spirit of Christmas

in the 1950s in a Rural Ontario Village

Memories of Christmas linger long in our hearts. For many, as the pop song goes, Christmas is the “most wonderful time of the year” and for most, it is wonderful because of the celebrations we remember from our childhood.

When Christmas Came to the Village is a new book of stories that lets you step back in time to capture the spirit of the 1950s: the Christmas decorations, the stockings hung for Santa Claus, Santa’s gifts, Christmas concerts and carols ringing out through starry nights.

Crafted by Judy Colbert, the stories are based on her memories of growing up in Hyde Park, Ontario, Canada, a rural community at the corner where a concession and side road met in London Township. As part of the City of London, her village at the corner is now almost invisible to the traffic that passes through today’s busy intersection.

“I wrote this book,” Colbert says, “to be a record of a community and a way of life now gone and to provide a glimpse of the past for the people who live there now and are building a different kind of community for the future. We are living in changing times. In fact, my village of Hyde Park could be any one of several rural villages now passing into history. I hope that people who know Hyde Park will enjoy my book, but I think it will be of interest to others as well, including those who are new to Canada and are just learning about our customs.”

A turning point in the life of Colbert’s Hyde Park was the closing and subsequent sale of the United Church there. The church figures prominently in several stories, as a focus for community life especially at Christmas, and its closing is the theme of the final story in the book, “Christmas Eve in the Village.”

While Christmas is the inspiration for her stories, most also explore other aspects of growing up in a rural village, including the significance of trees and living with nature, skating as a winter pastime, and the changing meaning of community in the present and future.

When Christmas Came to the Village is a slim little book that is convenient as a stocking stuffer or an oversized greeting card. It is a treat for yourself or the perfect gift for friends and family.

Order it from Volumes online at www.volumesdirect.com or by telephone 1-888-571-2665. For information: info@villagechristmas.ca

Available Soon: www.Chapters.Indigo.ca and www.Amazon.com

and www.villagechristmas.ca

When Christmas Came to the Village by Judith A. Colbert – 34 pages, 8” x 8,”Glossy Stock, Full Colour Illustrations ISBN 978-0-9867463-1-4

Download the PDF Media Release