Summer in Alberta meant driving to see family; Christmas meant seeing them all in one place. It was a mini-reunion for us every year we were there. This house which was so large and empty in the summer suddenly seemed too small. The adults took over the upstairs, spilling from the kitchen to the dinning room into the living room. Discussions of family updates since the last time they had seen each other, confirmation on who was doing what for Christmas dinner, shouts of 'Ernest' and 'Julio' while bottles of wine were being opened all filled the space not taken up by people.
Ernest! Julio! Uncles Dave and Phil at Writing-On-Stone.
Not everyone actually stayed at the house--some had other family to stay with, some lived close enough to drive--but it seemed like everyone would come each day in the lead up to Christmas Eve. Fourteen cousins would take over the basement, sometimes we'd be a cohesive unit playing 'what time is it, Mr Wolf?' but usually it was a free for all of games, TV, noise and fun. We'd escape upstairs to refill our snack stashes from the goodies table in the backroom and to make sure we weren't missing anything exciting upstairs before getting shooed back downstairs.
To get us out from under foot while dinner was being cooked on Christmas Eve day, we'd bundle those without other family to visit into as few cars as possible and head out. On one of those trips we went curling. I've never been very good at it, but I've had a love for the sport ever since. There were a few trips out to Writing-On-Stone. On one particular trip, there was no snow on the ground but the river was frozen so we had to walk on it.
Victoria and Taber Contingents on the Milk River
Usually we'd go to the farm. Trips out there were different when there was snow on the ground and cows in the barn.
Big Bro waves for the camera and incidentally covers my face. Thanks a lot!
I can't really explain why it always made me so happy to see the cows, but I loved it. It means, however, that there are a lot of these pictures:
I'm going to guess I was around 2 in this photo.
This wasn't at Christmas but while MTV was promoting the Spring Break beach theme,
I was spending my Grade 11 Spring Break in Milk River.
It was the lead up to Christmas that I enjoyed most. Don't get me wrong, Christmas with the entire family is pretty awesome, but you knew that was the beginning of the end. Everyone would dissipate back to which ever corner of Alberta they came from and it would be done for another year. It was that weekend or week before, with everyone under one roof, which were some of the best times in Milk River.
I liked spending time in Alberta in the winter. Not just at Christmas, but also when we'd come out at Spring Break or at Thanksgiving. It's so different to the Alberta of my summer memories. The fields are barren nothingness as far as you can see, there's no seeder or combine to break up the view, and yet I loved the feeling I'd get when I looked out at it. It's an emptiness which begs for you to walk through it, sit down for a spell and just watch the world go by. For better or for worse, I will always love Alberta.