We do not hibernate in our Northern Winter. Some might see only vast, cold emptiness in the isolation we live in. I never do. Reality can be frozen fingers and toes and such a tingle it hurt as the flesh thaws. But reality can be snuggled up by the stove, reading a wonderful novel too. Life, sometimes pleasant, sometimes not – is always interesting and exciting. I always take the bad with the good.
We go weeks without seeing others. But we are a large family. There is always laughing, playing and sometimes fighting among the siblings. Sometimes I don’t want to fight – so I go outside and play. Sometimes we are told to go out and play. My brother and I do not see this as punishment. We never tire of playing cowboys and Indians. My brother and I jump off bale piles and even the roofs of the outbuildings to catch each other by surprise – just like the cowboys in the stories we read do.
No one comes to tell us we shouldn’t. No one tells us it is dangerous. No one tells my sister – who might think being sent outside is punishment – she is a coward. My brother and I don’t. She is who she is. We only feel sorry for all the fun she is missing.
My mom and dad don’t fight. As I am older now and there are more family around – little ones and big ones, I think maybe mom and dad just argue when they are alone. Then I think maybe adults shouldn’t fight in front of their children. I am never told this. I see this.
We have a variety party at school in November. It is a time all the children and parents gather at the school one night. We play cards, we play darts and other competitive games. My dad has awesome accuracy and is a phenomenal card player. He wins many competitions. Prizes are home-made pies and my dad always picks my mother’s pies. They are in great demand – my mother has been baking pies since she was nine years old for thrashing crews and her nine brothers. It probably isn’t just love that makes dad picks her pies – it is knowledge they are perfectly made too. But it’s nice to dream it’s love.
We have our Christmas concert in December. We use the money from the variety party to buy costumes, decorations, a tree and yes Christmas presents for all the children. Santa visits and that is exciting. But mainly I am intrigued as we turn down the lights and do our pageant of Christ’s birth. It is the highlight of our concert. The school echoes with the sound of Christmas carols. A feeling of peace on earth invades. I enjoy the Christmas pageant best.
One night is in January. It is my father’s ‘name day’. I do not know that many don’t celebrate a name day. I only know we do and it’s fun, even for children. We dance, we feast and we enjoy music as friends and family gather together, regardless of the weather outside.
In February we celebrate Valentine’s Day. We all gather in the school-house – neighbors, parents and children. Again the harsh winter outside doesn’t prevent us from enjoying life. It is worth the struggles the cold demands just to gather together.
Once a month we all get together in the harsh winter. It’s a time to forget hardships and poverty. It’s a time to enjoy. But we don’t know we are poor or we must suffer because we are. Always there is beauty around – if we care to look. We are never encouraged to feel sorry for ourselves.