December 26, 1916
Today is Boxing Day and yesterday was Christmas, of course.
We had a quiet but busy celebration yesterday. Of my brothers and sisters, I was the only one to be at home with our parents for Christmas. They’re all spread about the continent or have families of their own for Christmas. I’m the exception of course. Not married, not having a regular salaried job, a free spirit as my father likes to call me. Free to come home as I wish.
We went to Knox Presbyterian for the Christmas morning service. The church was jammed to the rafters. My parents and Aunt Henrietta had their reserved spot in the front pews, but it was so full that I had to sit up in one of the balconies. The sanctuary in the church is squarer than the usual layout, and doesn’t allow for man y pews. To make up for the shortfall in space, the church has three balconies – one at the back and two on each side. I managed to get in the back balcony. Looking down I could see the Reverend, looking straight across, I could see the pipes of the organ. It was these pipes, and their shapes that I studied during the service – the Reverend looked so small and insignificant down below.
The service started at 11:00am and finished promptly at 12:00 noon. On Christmas, the Reverend knew better than to extend his sermon, because many would be rushing home right after to attend to the Christmas dinner. A large contingent of the congregation, having grown up on farms, had not yet switched to having large dinner at night. The big meal was at still at noon 12:30 on Sundays or holidays) and the evening supper was more like the lunches we’d have in the city.
We returned home, and had our Christmas meal in the front dining room. Aunt Henrietta had everything set up before we left for church, the turkey was on its way to being finished in the oven, and the potatoes and vegetables were peeled, sitting in pots. Upon return from church, the stove needed only a quick stoking up, and the potatoes and vegetables were boiling in no time.
After Christmas dinner, and some cursory cleaning up, we sat in the front sitting room to exchange gifts. I made two pen and ink sketches for my parents, and another for Aunt Henrietta. I had framed the two for my parents (from the storm window panes I salvaged in Rosedale) and the other for Aunt Henrietta, I set the drawing in between two pieces of cardboard. She likes to store the sketches, pressed into books, instead of putting them on walls. She does the same for wildflowers. You can’t open a book in the house, without a dried pressed flower falling out.
When my mother and Aunt Henrietta, were cleaning up, my father brought up the topic of the War. As a father he didn’t want me to go, but understood the necessity for more recruits. It was my choice, but the biggest consideration was my mother. Although we were a family of nine children, there was a tenth, my younger brother James. He was born when I was five, and I remember when he died the next summer before I turned six. There wasn’t much said, and two more children (Margaret and Fraser) came shortly thereafter. But my mother did not recover completely from the loss of James. Father said that if she lost another child, it would be the death of her. And that still was the case today. All of her boys were married, except for me, and I was the one at greatest chance of going overseas to fight especially if conscription was to come about. So that’s what my father wanted to tell me.
We had a fine rest of the Christmas Day. It was a good day today too. We received a telephone message from my sister and brother-in-law, Elizabeth and Tom in Annan, that there was going to be a big soiree at the new Annan Hall on Saturday night. The hall had just been built. Tom is on the Hall Committee, and Elizabeth is a member of the Women’s Institute and the organizer of this year’s soiree. I decided to spend another day in Owen Sound and then I would make my way out to Annan. I could take a stage to Bothwell’s corners, and then a sleigh to Tom and Elizabeth’s farm, but if the weather holds up, I may just walk the shore road to Leith and then go up the Lakeshore line.
I didn’t think much about my paintings today. It’s good to have a break.