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The Christmas Fence

In A Daughter’s Gift, I shared a terribly sad memory of the Christmas my father no longer remembered how to sign ‘Love Dick’ on the card we had picked out for him to give my mother. With a few noted exceptions during his later years, though, Christmas was a magical time in my childhood home, and even laced as they were with a deep sadness, those final years were precious.

Holiday traditions and decorations inevitably change over the years, but there are aspects of my childhood Christmases that have moved with me through the provinces and the decades.

Our Christmas tree has a few bells and balls that I chose from my parents’ tree the first year Peter and I were married –– made of metal they look the same as they did all those decades ago. And then there’s the Christmas fence –– the little white, ranch-style fence that surrounds a blanket of ‘snow’ at the base of our tree, modelled after the green-and-white fence that stood at the base of all my childhood trees.

The fence was such a part of Christmas that I couldn’t imagine my tree without one. And so the year Peter and I were married, I asked my dad if he could make one for us. He did of course, even if it was harder for him than we knew because of the early influences of Alzheimer’s.

That fence, now standing for its 30th Christmas, is symbolic of so much –– the sound of mother’s voice ringing through the house in Christmas song… the joy on my father’s face with every gift he opened and every gift he gave.

It’s also a testament to all that was and is special about this time of year, and the people who make it that way.

Merry Christmas everyone.