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A Story for the Soul

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I am feeling much better today. Thank you, friends. Really, I was just whining last night. But there you were anyway. My comfort book last night was the same Canadian Christmas story book I have been reading. I thought I'd share another story if you are in the mood. I chose this one because I am feeling like making things simple today.

From "Sleds, Sleighs & Snow; A Canadian Christmas Carol" edited by Anne Tempelman-Kluit
"Christmas Orange" by David Weale
Morell, Prince Edward Island, Canada
"Perhaps the greatest difference between Christmas today and Christmas "them times" is that, "them times", people were poor. Not that there aren't any poor today, but back then everyone was poor-or almost everyone. It wasn't a grinding, end-of-the-rope kind of poverty. Most everyone had food enough to eat and warm clothes to wear. The woodshed was filled with wood, the cellar with potatoes and carrots, and the pickle barrel with herring and pork. In many ways it was an era of plenty, so you might say that rural Islanders weren't poor, they just didn't have much money.
What strikes me forcibly when I speak to old people is that the scarcity of money made it possible to receive great pleasure from simple, inexpensive things. I know, for example, that for many children an orange, a simple orange, was a Christmas miracle. It was the perfect golden ball of legend and fairy tale which appeared, as if by magic, on December 25th. In that drab world of gray and brown, it shone mightily like a small sun.
The orange was a kind of incarnation of Christmas itself, the very spirit and embodiment of the Christmas season. For many Islanders the most vivid, evocative memory of that blessed time is the memory of an orange in the toe of their stocking. One woman from a large family in Morell said that in her home you were fortunate if you received a whole orange for yourself. She recalled some lean years when she received half an orange, and was happy for it.
For children who ate oatmeal porridge for breakfast virtually every day of their lives, and had molasses on bread most days in their school lunch; for children who looked at fried potatoes almost every evening for supper and considered turnip scrapings a special evening snack; for those children an orange was a marvel, something almost too wonderful and prized to be eaten-an exotic, sensuous wonder.
One woman confessed that she kept her orange for a week after Christmas, kept it in a drawer. Several times a day she would go to her hiding place and take out the orange just to fondle it, and smell it, and to anticipate joyously the pleasure which was to come. Eventually it had to be eaten: deliberately, unhurriedly, ceremoniously, and gratefully. Piece by piece, and finally the peeling-it was all eaten, and it was good..."
What are you grateful that you will have this Christmas?

  1. Blogger mrsmogul said:

    When my father-in-law was little, his dad bought him a train. He played with it on Xmas night. Then the next day, his dad took it back!! We find the story funny now but imagine when times are tough and you gotta do that. I'm still laughing.

  1. Blogger Stephanie said:

    My family and my (and their) health. The stuff really doesn't matter so much, but I think that's because we don't NEED anything. What strikes me most about the story is the part about saving and savouring the orange. I am so impatient and I'll take that bit away with me: "Eventually it had to be eaten: deliberately, unhurriedly, ceremoniously, and gratefully." Must learn to take more time to appreciate things.

  1. Blogger Dirk the Feeble said:

    I always thought the difference was that during "them times" we were allowed to say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays."

  1. Blogger Cathy said:

    So sad, but you're right, so funny at the same time. Your poor dad.

    I rush, too. I find it very hard to slow myself down. Taking more time to appreciate things is a lesson for both of us, I guess.

    On this topic, I refuse to be politically correct. I celebrate Christmas so therefore I say Merry Christmas. Someone who celebrates any other tradition can say that to me and I will not be offended, but feel blessed that the bearer of the message felt warm enough to me to have said it.

  1. Blogger SkyeBlue2U said:

    Good story choice. Now I'm thinking about the things I'm grateful for everyday. Mostly health.

  1. Blogger Neo said:

    Cathy -Grateful that I have toilet paper in my bathroom?


    I remember getting an orange in my stocking too.

    I was always grateful for what I got, same holds to today. I'm grateful that I'm alive. :)

  1. Blogger Supermans Foot said:

    Im just glad everyone I love is still around. There have been numerous occasions that may have not been the case and it makes you stop being complacent and be grateful

  1. Blogger Tee said:

    Wow - thanks. I needed to read that story today.

  1. Blogger Cathy said:

    Toilet paper is good (we're down to our last roll, actually)

    SkyeBlue & Neo;
    Alive; yes, and healthy!

    This is mine as well; everyone I love around me.

    I am so glad. Really.

  1. Blogger Neo said:

    Cathy -HA! See, my smart ass remark reminded you that you needed TP. :) I'm good for something right? ;)

  1. Blogger Anhoni Patel said:

    That's a great story. I like to make all (except for my neices who would just think they got jipped) my Christams presents. I've been doing so for the last several years. I think it means a lot more. I'm thankful for being able to see my family. I miss them so much.

  1. Blogger Chloe said:

    i am grateful for so many things this year. For feeling great, for having a family, for being healthy and full of hope for the future. I feel grateful for all the love and friendship i've found through my blog and through all of my blog friends.

  1. Blogger missbhavens said:

    Thanks! I needed that.

  1. Blogger Michelle said:

    Definately family and health. Although i'd be so grateful if my airconditioning were fixed by Friday!

  1. Blogger Cathy said:

    Yes, thanks again for that;)

    Homemade Christmas gifts are the best. I am making my two sons special blankets this year. I hope you are going to be able to be near some family this Christmas.

    It is nice that you have so many things to feel grateful for. I am equally grateful for blog friends; only wish you were closer.

    I am so glad, and hope you are feeling better.

    My Christmas wish for you: AIR CONDITIONING!!!

  1. Blogger Meow said:

    This year, as with other years, I am greatful for my lovely, loving family, and that we all continue to be in good health. However, I have a new thing to be greatful for this year ... my new friends in blogging land. Thank you for being part of that.

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