A Holiday Wrap Up for the New Year



Photo-Gary Wallet- my late sister Robin Knight Nutbrown- Sheila Wallet and me- Linda Knight Seccaspina– 1950s Cowansville, Quebec.

The holiday’s are over. Another year, a few more pounds, and an extra bag or two for the garbage man.

Do you think the present generation will ever realize that Christmas doesn’t come in stores, and maybe it should mean more to them? I wonder some days what kind of holiday traditions our future generations will have, and whether it will involve an app?

How many of the younger set watched It’s a Wonderful Life or listened to Bing Crosby sing White Christmas with tears in their eyes? Do they relate more to One Direction or Ariana Grande singing festive songs? In reality, do some of them pretend to enjoy our Christmas past just to humour us? The holidays triggers happy childhood memories for myself and others, but is it really just recalling that warm feeling of nostalgia?

Everything used to happen for a reason during the holidays, like the smell of Christmas food being made in the kitchen. Even if our past was far less rosy than the generations today, I really believe we created positive memories that lasted.

It used to be a time when people actually mailed Christmas cards, and our local post offices really mattered. All Dad had to do to get a happy smile from mom was to buy her a new toaster or coffee maker. Dad always pretended to be thrilled with his brand new tie or that bottle of Old Spice.

Of course many times during the period the Christmas tree was up (until Epiphany) you would hear him occasionally curse quietly when one of the Christmas tree bulbs would burn out making that entire strand unusable. There were the Shiny Brite Christmas ornaments and the icicles that were supposed to make your tree look like it was covered in icicles. In my mind it always looked like the hairball Grammy’s cat Muffy had just coughed up after eating a lot of the tinsel.

No matter how hard I tried, my paper snowflakes never looked like anyone else’s snowflakes. My Grandmother would always tell me to remember not all snowflakes were the same just like people. She would then hand me a recently purchased Avon Advent Calendar to count the days and add on the never needed pounds. But, she always bought extra boxes of Ivory Snow, and we would open them to find the free Christmas ornaments to place on the tree next to some creepy Santa decoration she always seemed to collect.

Baking cookies for various social events was a wonderful time and I was always next to her like glue to help clean up, and of course eat the leftover cookie dough. Her Christmas cookies were beautiful and perfect, while my roughly cut out cookies looked like they had been executed in some gangland style cookie execution.

In 1957 my Father finally realized he would never have a son and bought both his girls a train set from the Eaton’s Catalogue. I remember knowing the set had cost a great deal of money, but I was more interested in the box of Life Savers that was in my stocking than something Dad had in reality had bought for himself.


My mother had bought him a Johnny Cash record album that same year and I remember my father setting up the train set that was eventually going to become a dust collector singing the song Folsom Prison Blues with his own lyrics:

“I shot a man in Reno, so I could buy my daughters a Lionel Train Set”.

The memory I will most remember is that Christmas was not so much opening up presents, but in opening our hearts and being with family. The holidays seemed to be the time that held the rest of time and our past together and unlike apps, it never needed time to load.

It’s a new year now- instead of resolutions- let’s keep the holiday spirit up all year long.


Memories of an Eaton’s Catalogue Christmas at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum ends on January 11th


About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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