Family Christmas Party

Today there was a family Christmas party hosted by my Great Aunt and her daughters. She’s the same Great Aunt who holds the annual family Canada Day Party, and these events are so important for us all as times to get together and visit and laugh and share.

I consider myself lucky because I come from a family that has mostly stayed in the same area since my great grandfather and his two brothers came out here in the 1880s to ranch. I think in many ways before we moved away,  I took for granted the strong community bond that we have out here because it was all I knew. It wasn’t until we started moving that I realized how many people are floating around out there without their tribe. I am so happy to be back in mine.

My happiness moment today was a long chat with an old favourite uncle. When I was a kid they used to hold Pony Club at their place – in fact they were known in the area for throwing the best “D” Rally and that was something we all looked forward to. I have memories of being somewhere around 5 or 6 and spending the week there sleeping in a silo at camp, and lots of memories of racing our horses around the cross country course.

In times when I need to dig deep and find some bravery, I think of my times there how they taught me to find that inner strength. Some of it was just out of sheer terror and not wanting to look like a big chicken, but that was only because I looked up to them all so much and  I wanted to be able to keep up with everyone.

When I was 9, I had a rotten (but really cool) horse named Snowflake whom I loved deeply but who had a terrible habit of rearing up when she was nervous. Uncle Harvey was the timekeeper that year and as he looked at me and said “one minute”, Snowflake reared up and I slid right off her bum and landed feet first on the ground. I walked around to her side, someone gave me a leg up, and without missing a beat Uncle Harvey started the countdown 10, 9, 8, 7…. and I was off on the course. I look back at that moment as a really special one in my life, he gave me wings to soar.  First of all, there was a very strict no helping the rider rule – so the fact that I was given a leg up showed that they were quietly supporting me. She was tall and I was small and I used to have to jump up, dig my knee into the stirrup and then climb my way up into the saddle. The fact that my uncle didn’t make a big deal out of what had happened meant that I also didn’t make a big deal out of it.  We ended up not only having a perfectly clear round, but coming in first in every class that day. It was one of my best days as a kid.

It was so lovely to be able to have a long chat with him today. I got to hear all about his family and how they’re doing and just chew the fat a little bit. Even though he doesn’t live that far away, I don’t see him all that often (last time was at the Canada Day Party) so it was a real treat. These family parties are so important for all of us. We need to remember that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves.

Another happiness moment (aside from the general joy in seeing family/neighbours) was seeing smiles on older relatives when they learned that we are living in the old house. Everyone has memories of coming to the old house and visiting, or sometimes living here. One uncle (the twin of my happiness moment uncle) said that his first real bath was taken in the footed tub in our bathroom here. I love that we are living in a home that has so many memories for all of our relatives. It’s a great way of feeling bonded and grounded.


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