Category Archives: Holidays

Mothers in Art and Life

An Inuit mother teaching her daughter to throat sing in the sculpture The Gift by Goota Ashoona. Photographed at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Son of our tour guide and his mother. Photographed in Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

A Young Mother by Bessie Potter Vonnoh -1896. Photographed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

A mother elephant and her child. Photographed in the Serengeti in Tanzania.

Mothers in the Park by Francisco Zuniga – 1986- Photographed in the Mayan World Museum in Merida Mexico

Mother and daughter making chocolate. Photographed in Ubud Bali.

Mother and Child by Pablo Picasso – 1921 – Photographed at the Chicago Art Institute

Mother bison and calf. Photographed at Fort Whyte Manitoba.

War Dread of Mothers by George Roualt. Photographed at The St. Louis Art Museum.

dee dee snorkel guide in boracay philippines

Dee Dee our snorkelling guide with her children. Photographed in Boracay in the Philippines.

Together by Nirite Takele -1985. Photographed in the Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town South Africa.

Mother and child in a home we visited in Shangri-La. Photographed in Yunnan province China.

Other posts…………

Mothers in Our Family

Mothers at the Met

A Hat For Mother’s Day


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Easter in a Few Words

Painting of the sunrise by our six-year-old grandson

“Dawn and resurrection are synonymous. The reappearance of the light is the same as the survival of the soul.” – Victor Hugo

Colouring Easter eggs with my mom in 1962

“The Easter egg symbolizes our ability to break out of the hardened, protective shell we’ve surrounded ourselves with…”-Siobhan Shaw

Dave and me at The Cape of Good Hope in February

“The great gift of Easter is hope.”- Basil Hume

My Mom with one of her newborn grandchildren

“For I remember it is Easter Morn and life and love and peace are all newborn.”- Alice Freeman Palmer

Our son holding a new chick on his grandparents’ farm

“Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life.”- S.D. Gordon

Easter eggs I photographed at a market in Odesa, Ukraine

“Easter is the only time when it’s perfectly safe to put all your eggs in one basket.”- Evan Esar

Cherry Blossoms in Japan

“Twas Easter. The full-blossomed trees filled all the air with fragrance and with joy.”- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In Easter bonnets with my cousin and my sister in 1958.

For in your Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it, you will be the grandest lady in the Easter Day parade.”- Irving Berlin

1954 – me and my mother

“The very first Easter taught us this……….. that love never dies.”Kate McGahan 

Our son with his personalized Easter Egg in 1986

“All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!”- Charles Schultz

Happy Easter!

Other posts…………..

Feeling Sad About Odessa

For the Beauty of the Earth

The Tree of Life- Poems by Sarah Klassen


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Easter Classics That Have Stood the Test of Time

Yesterday was Children’s Book Day and since Easter is next weekend, I thought I would share some of my favourite Easter picture books for kids.

Good Night Moon is Margaret Wise Brown’s most well-known children’s book. But I can also highly recommend her Golden Egg Book illustrated by Leonard Weisgard and first published in 1947. It was always a huge hit with the kindergarten and grade one students I taught early in my career as an educator.

In the delightful story, a bunny finds an egg and tries to imagine what could be inside it.

Eventually, he falls asleep beside the egg and when he wakes up……. is he ever surprised!

You can tell from how worn this book is that it has been well-read and well-loved over the years. The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes was first published in 1939 long before equality for women was considered important. In that regard, it was a story way ahead of its time.

The leader of all the Easter bunnies has always selected a team of young male bunnies to make egg deliveries to children around the world but this time he also picks a female bunny who is a mother to join the team.

Everyone is surprised and perhaps somewhat sceptical.

But that mother bunny proves not only her swiftness but her kindness, wisdom and bravery when she is called upon to make the most dangerous and difficult Easter egg delivery of them all.

I first heard The Velveteen Rabbit story by Margery Williams recited from memory by one of the speakers at a reading conference I went to in North Dakota in 1980. I’ve been in love with the story ever since.

A toy rabbit is loved into being real by a little boy who won’t go anywhere without his rabbit.

But when the rabbit is thrown away for fear it is infected with scarlet fever germs the bunny worries about his future. Can he still be real?

The Velveteen Rabbit was written in 1922 and is layered with meaning. The more you read it the more you think of new life applications.

But for the hundreds of children, who’ve listened to me read this book, it is the actual story itself that charms them and draws them in.

Bunny Trouble was published in 1987. It contains a timeless story about a bunny who loves soccer more than anything else.

His love of the sport interferes with his assigned Easter egg decorating duties and gets him into lots of trouble.

I’ve called this post Easter Classics because these books were published between thirty-six to a hundred years ago. But……..they are all still readily available for purchase. That certainly speaks to their time-tested appeal.

Of course, I’d encourage you to buy the books but they are also all available online as read-alouds you can watch and listen to.

I’m looking forward to sharing these books with my Winnipeg granddaughter when she comes over for Easter Sunday dinner. My grandchildren in Saskatoon have received these books in their Easter baskets in the past.

Happy reading and happy Easter!

Other posts………..

Books About Death For Children

Show Us Where You Live Humpback

A Modern Day Charlotte’s Web


Filed under Books, Holidays

Sunrise on a New Year

Our six-year-old grandson painted this sunrise picture and gave it to us as a Christmas gift. I just LOVE it!

See how the light rises above the dark waters?

See how the sun is swirling with possibilities?

See how the sun’s rays spread out to warm the world?

May your 2023 be filled with light and hope.

May it present you with new opportunities and possibilities to explore.

May it be warmed by meaningful relationships.

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Health Care Heroes

In his Christmas message to Canadians Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid special tribute to the healthcare professionals who continue to do their vital work during the holiday season when many others have time off from their jobs.

The importance of the prime minister recognizing those who work in health care had personal significance for me as I thought about my visits to my father in his nursing home during the Christmas season.

Dad conducting along while the staff as his nursing home sing carols for the residents

At the Christmas party on his ward, I watched as the staff sang carols for the residents, danced with them, hugged them and served them and their family members food.

Dad receiving his blessing from St. Nicholas

One took the role of St. Nicholas and gave a special blessing to each resident. Volunteer instrumentalists serenaded us, while the kitchen staff provided a beautiful array of party food.

Photo of Dad and me at the Christmas party on his ward

The social workers and recreation coordinators went around taking photos of all the residents with their family members who had come to the party.

Dad with three of his children last week

I had arranged to bring Dad to my place last Sunday for a small Christmas gathering of his Winnipeg children. The nursing home staff had made sure Dad was all ready for his outing, had been shaved and bathed, was dressed nicely, had taken his medications, and had his outdoor clothing on hand.

On Christmas Day and Christmas Eve when I visited Dad some of the staff had dressed in Christmas sweaters, and others wore Santa hats. The menu included a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings and the ward was decorated with a tree and wreaths and lights.

The ward was fully staffed on both Christmas Day and Christmas Eve and I realized all the people there had forfeited being with their own families to care for the family members of other people including my Dad.

Visiting Dad on Christmas Day

My Dad is in a ward for people with advanced dementia and the work is often challenging and difficult. But the staff are almost unfailingly kind and understanding and always welcoming to us as a family.

They definitely deserve special recognition not only at Christmas but all year round. They are certainly heroes in my eyes.

Other posts……….

Wraggling Along

Our Dad is Dancing

Dad’s Fern

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A Painting for the Globe and Mail

The Toronto Globe and Mail has a tradition of choosing a Canadian work of art to feature every Christmas Eve. This year it was The Bird Shop, St. Lawrence Street, by Maurice Cullen painted in 1920. Although this painting is set in Montreal the artist was born in St. John’s Newfoundland.

It started me thinking about which painting by a Canadian artist I might nominate for next year’s Christmas Eve feature in the Globe and Mail.

Here are five of my nominees.

Early Snow by Tom Thompson -1916-1917 in the collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery

We think of snow as white. But if you look closely it is a prism of colour. Thompson captures that so beautifully here.

Friends Rejoicing by Daphne Odjig in the collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery

At Christmas, we celebrate the joy of the birth of a baby. I think this painting captures that beautifully.

Doc Snyder’s House by Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald- 1931
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Painted by the only Manitoba member of the Group of Seven this is such a typical Winnipeg winter scene. It makes me feel at home.

Four Generations by Pitaloosie Saliin the collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery

Christmas is a time when there are multi-generational gatherings of families. This depiction of four generations of women by Inuit artist Pitaloosie Sali is one of my favourite pieces in the Winnipeg Art Gallery collection.

Pound Cove Mummers Crossing Coal Harbour Pond by David Blackwood 1985

I love the fact that in different parts of Canada Christmas is marked with different traditions. Here David Blackwood magically captures the tradition of mummering in Newfoundland.

I don’t know if the Toronto Globe and Mail accepts nominations for their Christmas Eve art feature. I’ll have to check it out and see if they would consider one of my suggestions for next year.

Other posts…………

Mummering With A Great Canadian Artist

Good-bye Pitaloosie

Getting to Know L L

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Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Seasons Greetings to all my blog readers.

I appreciate each and every one of you.

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Christmas Memories

I’ve been inspired by a Holly Harris piece in the Winnipeg Free Press where she interviews musicians about Christmas. One question she asked them was “What is a special Christmas memory you have?”

Singer Steve Bell said it was going to visit the inmates at the prison where his Dad was a chaplain on Christmas Day.

Naomi Woo assistant director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra got married at Christmas.

Cheryl Pauls, a pianist and President of Canadian Mennonite University, remembers a family trip from Ontario to Winnipeg on very icy roads.

Here are some of my memories.

Singing with my cousins at my grandparents’ farmhouse in the little village of Gnadenthal in southern Manitoba in 1958. We performed for our grandparents every year and after we’d done that we got our presents.

Eating pretzels and drinking beer in Bamburg Germany on Christmas Day in 2010.

One of my childhood memories is always getting a brand new dress for Christmas. Here I am in 1963 with my siblings in our new Christmas outfits.

Exploring the Wai Ta Poi thermal fields in New Zealand the Christmas of 2008.

Our youngest son was born just before Christmas in 1985. We had waited for him for a long time.

The pure delight my mother took in being with her family at Christmas. Look at how happy she is in this photo even though she’s probably been working non-stop for weeks to prepare all the food, buy all the gifts and decorate her home.

Visiting the Sydney Opera House in Australia the Christmas of 2009

Selling out all the copies of my book Lost on the Prairie in the Mennonite Heritage Museum gift shop at their Christmas market in 2021.

My Mom with my grandson, her first great grandchild, on the last Christmas before she passed away.

Frosty Christmas walk last year when the pandemic prevented us from getting together with our family.

Other posts………

What’s Microchimerism and What Does It Have To Do With Christmas?

Writing Christmas Memories

Christmas Presents 1971

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Christmas Music That Saved Our Lives

A question Winnipeg Free Press writer Holly Harris asked musicians from our city in her article about the holidays was what music was special to them during the festive season.

Winnipeg music performer Steve Bell said the Christmas song that was the most meaningful to him was In the Bleak Midwinter based on a poem by Christina Rosetti and set to music by Gustav Holst. 

Élise Lavallée the principal violist, for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra said one of her favourites was River written by Joni Mitchell and sung by Sarah McLachlan.

The Christmas song Lo How a Rose is one our family sings every Christmas. Some of you might know the story of how that hymn saved our family’s life. We were living in Hong Kong in 2004 and our children had come to visit us. We had a hotel in Phuket Thailand booked for a family holiday. We were going to fly out on Christmas Eve and had a snorkelling trip arranged for the 26th.

Our family singing Lo How A Rose in our church in Hong Kong

Then John Lemond the pastor of Tao Fong Shan, our church in Hong Kong asked if our family might sing at the Christmas Eve service. We had been to this service before and knew it was a special evening with attendees from fifteen or more countries sharing their Christmas traditions. We thought our children would enjoy it. So we changed our trip plans and left on Christmas Day. We rebooked our snorkelling excursion for the 27th.

Our family singing Lo How A Rose in 2000

We sang the hymn Lo How A Rose at that church service. We had sung it before as a family.

Our family on the waterfront after the tsunami

The tsunami hit on the 26th and we would have been snorkelling out on the ocean right then had we not changed our plans. Luckily our hotel was high on a hill and wasn’t impacted. Of course we never went snorkelling. Thanks to Lo How A Rose we were safe.

Our son and grandson warming up for family Christmas singing

Yesterday I wrote about our family’s tradition of Christmas stockings. Before we open them we sing three or four Christmas carols. One is always Lo How a Rose.

Other posts……..

Christmas Carol Inspiration

In A Child’s Voice

Solstice Carol

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Favourite Christmas Tradition

Winnipeg Free Press music critic Holly Harris has an interesting article in today’s paper. She interviewed musicians asking them questions about the holidays. I thought it would be fun to answer some of Holly’s questions myself. Today I’ll look at ………. What’s your favourite Christmas tradition?

In the Free Press article Naomi Woo assistant conductor of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra said her favourite tradition is having fruit salad for breakfast on Christmas morning like her Mom’s family did in Uganda.

Cellist David Liam Roberts said his is eating a German Christmas bread called stollen with his family and reading an excerpt from Tolkien’s Father Christmas Letters.

Hanging stockings on our fireplace with my siblings

My favourite tradition would have to be stockings. When I was a child my siblings and I always hung up stockings which were filled with gifts on Christmas morning.

Stocking my Mom made for our oldest son

My mother made Christmas stockings for each of her grandchildren when they were born.

Christmas stocking for my oldest grandchild

I’ve carried on that tradition making stockings for each of my grandchildren.

Working on my grandson’s stocking

I am definitely not a ‘crafty’ person so I’ve been fortunate that my friend Debbie who is a very talented and artistic craftswoman has helped me make the stockings for my grandchildren.

Stocking for my youngest grandchild

During our family Christmas celebrations now I bring out the stockings with gifts tucked inside. Just before everyone ‘opens’ their stocking we go around the family circle and each person shares a highlight of the year just past and a hope for the year to come.

Pandemic Stockings

During the pandemic when we couldn’t meet in person I had to mail wrapped gifts to my grandchildren and children with a picture of their stocking taped onto them.

This year I will be able to give them their stockings in person again. I already have them all hanging up in our condo.

Stockings are my favourite Christmas tradition. What’s yours?

Other posts……….

They Never Made It to the Manger

Ten Christmas Presents

Christmas Down Under


Filed under Holidays