CHRISTMAS 1990 It's the 16th of November and we are having the lawn mowed for the last time (we hope) this year. The weather is 50 degrees and it is hard to believe that Christmas is almost here.

ALMOST HERE!?! Well, you know me I like to get a head start. We're going to be away a few days at the end of November and I am trying to get my Christmas chores done so when I get home I can put the cards in the mail, deliver gifts, maybe do a bit of baking this year and perhaps have a little extra time to enjoy the holidays.

What can I tell you about this year? A lot is simply a repeat of last year, gift shows, time together at Samoset in April, our fall trip in October and working - and that seems to entail longer hours, less free time and sometimes it gets discouraging.

At a time when the world seems to be falling apart; government is mismanaging our tax dollars; rain forests are being felled faster than growth can sustain; our property taxes doubled; Canada is suffering an identity crisis; war seems eminent in the middle east; and yet, despite all of this, the year has been filled with hope, cheer and the realization that one, even as an adult, is anchored by family and friends.

"Mady's" graduating class and two others gathered this year in St. Andrews to celebrate their 50th Reunion. They had a wonderful time and it kept her busy and the other St. Andrews students to organize it all. They ate their way through the weekend - snacks, dinner, lunches and as you might guess the talking never stopped. One of the most interesting things that happened is that the organizers who live in either St. Andrews or St. Stephen have become closer. They have been "reconnected".

Our family gathered this year (some of us twice) to celebrate Mum and Dad's 50 years of marriage. Our first celebration was a dinner which Janet and I hosted with the help of Gail McLaughlin (daughter # 5 - part of our extended family). This was the 14th of July and a perfect day weather wise - we basked under the trees at the Parish Hall and our relatives (maternal and paternal) came. Sixty-eight of us gathered of all ages and from all parts of North America and enjoyed our time together.

Relatives who were there to celebrate their wedding day were also there to celebrate their 50th. Richie and Mabel (or as we sometimes say our Grandfather's sister) for one and they will be celebrating their 55th Anniversary this year; Willard and Ida celebrate their 50th this year; and another of our family Mae (Orr) Hatto came with her daughter - Mae died from cancer shortly after making the effort to be with us. Family and gatherings such as this gives us a sense of past, a better knowledge of who we are and the proven belief that we are, above all else, survivors... from both sides.

Our family has lived on the same land since 1867. Confederation was some new fangled idea; the Saxby Gale wreaked havoc through Charlotte County and blew down the barn at home. The barn was rebuilt and is still standing today and the Emersons still live on the hill (not so hilly looking anymore when the government filled in the gulley to make the road safer); vegetables are still grown in the soil; Dad still goes to the woods to cut wood and we still know relatives from both sides of the family.

The Chinese have had the Year of the Rat and the Dragon. Well I've decided that it's the year of my parents. One always tends to compare their life with others - I look at children today and give thanks that I grew up in a household where hungry was a word but never hunger; where abuse meant you couldn't stay up to watch the Carol Burnett show; that protecting the environment was your responsibility (wood cutting operations went from one side of the road to the other); union was part of the word reunion;
Grandfather meant your mother or father's father; and a one-room school was a reality.

I want to pay special homage to my parents (and family) for making my life such fun. Reunions at Ovenhead, lunches at Grampie Sutherlands camp, reunions at Scotch Ridge, gatherings in each others homes, weekends at Camp Talltrees, hot fudge sundaes at Newbury's with Grammie Thornton, raspberry picking with Grampie Thornton, thinning turnips with Grampie Emerson, playing games at the Aunties, Edith and Clara, trips to visit them far away and those who joined us in Rolling Dam, Grammie Emerson and her doctoring (removing fish bones) and steaming woolies to wrap around her knees, my pet Pillsbury (couldn't eat pork that year),the organizational skills of Aunt Al (when you visited the second time she had your favourite dish from the visit before), Bruce for getting us organized in 1989 for a get together, and the list goes on.

Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men takes on new meaning this year. Remember to do your part to make it happen.

As you gather this Christmas know that the Holmes in St. Andrews are thinking of you.