Greg Ottenbreit -
Christmas has always been special to me. Although as a kid, I never appreciated church a lot, as I got older and had a family, it became more meaningful to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of the Savior.
I have many funny memories centered around Christmas! As a child I remember opening my gifts secretly ahead of time and ruining the surprise. Once found out by my parents, some went back and others I still got. To this day I don't attempt to find out what I am getting!
Another Christmas, an uncle, who admittedly I loved to torment, teased me about getting coal in my stocking…to my surprise that is exactly what was in it the next morning! He did "rectify" the situation once a lesson was learned!
In my school years I recall disrupting the school Christmas concert at St. Al's with a wardrobe malfunction! Relax…it was a hat!
As an adult I was criticized by some of my family members for being cheap…I proposed to my lovely wife, Leone, on Christmas eve (just to save having to buy an extra gift besides her ring, so they said). In my defense I was too nervous about the engagement to even consider the implication!
Later, I fondly remember one of my kids, who will remain nameless, more excited by the packaging and box than the gift, "A BOX A BOX!"
Although some family members are no longer with us, which can be a little difficult, it remains a most wonderful time of year!
Suann Laurent, President and CEO of Sunrise Health Region
I love the holiday season because it means time with family and friends, our most precious gift. I enjoy connecting, and sharing time and laughter with all of the people who are important in our lives.
We have been blessed with so many fond memories. Upon reflection I would say one Christmas memory that is close to my heart was the year of our first family Christmas at our cabin. My husband Rob and our daughter Danica and son Devin ventured out to chop down our own tree. (This was the first time I ever had a real tree and it smelled heavenly!).
We took pictures of the kids in the snow, having hot chocolate, enveloped by nature and the magical peacefulness that we are blessed with in rural Saskatchewan. We towed the tree back to the cabin on sleds. I can still see Devin's bright blue eyes shining through the pine needles as he hung onto the tree with pride as Danica and I followed. We thought the tree was maybe a bit small but when we got back to the cabin we had to cut it down some more to fit through the patio doors -- amateurs for sure!
We decorated together, laughed together, and got everything ready before my Mom and Dad, brothers, niece and nephew arrived. I love family time anytime, and every minute with them is my most precious gift. Every joy shared adds more love, every crisis we face together makes our family stronger. What I did not know was our first Christmas at our cabin was my Dad's last, he passed away unexpectedly the following May.
Trent Cassan - Yorkton Terrier head coach
I learned how to skate on a frozen slough over the holidays when I was three years old. My mom and dad took my brother Jeff and I out onto one of our fields near the farm in Medora, Manitoba and that was our sheet of ice. Of course I wore my brothers old skates, having a brother who was two years older then me, I got a lot of his hand-me-downs. So a few Christmases later when I got my actual own pair of skates was a pretty big deal.
I can also remember the yearly Medora Community Christmas concerts at the old Medora school. Medora is a village of less then 75 people so it's very small. We went to school and played our minor hockey in nearby Deloraine but each year all the young kids and families who lived around Medora would get together and rehearse for the annual Christmas Concert. By the time I got to grade five I was finally ready to play the role of Santa. I don't think to this day I have ever had to play a more important lead role in anything!
Garry Breitkreuz, Yorkton-Melville MP
I grew up in a home where we didn't have many of the material things we take for granted today. In a home like that you remember your Christmas gifts because they came at such a great sacrifice for your parents. At ten years of age, after coming home from church on Christmas Eve, I received a Meccano set. I played with that set for years and I still enjoy building things.
The highlight of my Christmases from Grades 1 to 8 was the annual school Christmas concert. The entire neighbourhood attended and Windsor, our one-room country school, was always absolutely packed. (This was in the days before fire commissioners were required to "throw cold water" on such events!)
A teacher's reputation seemed to rest on the quality of those concerts. For approximately three weeks before this annual event we did no regular schoolwork. Instead, we spent all our time and effort rehearsing skits, songs and poems. I remember being able to recite the entire two-hour program from start to finish – everyone else's part, as well as my own.
Trying to identify the mystery Santa Claus was great fun – and so was watching him catch the teacher to give her a big kiss.
Amie Zamonsky - Yorkton Chamber of Commerce president
My favourite Christmas memories are from when I was a child and we would go to my Grandma's house for the day and spend time with our family. My sister, Jessica, and I would spend all morning practicing and creating our own Christmas concert to perform in front of everyone. We would have fake microphones, assigned seating and homemade programs for everyone ... the program was usually about an hour long and consisted of us singing and dancing to a lot of Christmas music.
I am a terrible singer so this was a very long, painful hour for all of my family and they still tease me to this day! We would then spend the rest of the day eating, drinking tea, and playing crib and other games. Although I no longer perform for the family, we still play lots of card and board games while drinking tea and eating!
Darrell Zaba, Director of Education, Christ the Teacher Catholic Schools
When I reflect back on my memories of Christmas, I think of gifts wished for and how they were received.
When I was in grade 5 one of my closest friends could play guitar so I thought it would be cool to be able to play guitar. Well, Christmas came and my wish came true. I received a guitar and my parents arranged for me to take guitar lessons. On the way to my first lesson, I had to walk past our community's outdoor hockey ice arena. As I shuffled past the arena I realized what I enjoyed most—playing shinny with my friends. Well, that day I took my first and last guitar lesson and never regretted spending every moment possible playing shinny.
Well, a year later I asked for a chemistry set for Christmas. Again my wish came true! On the first Saturday morning after Christmas, I started my first experiment in my bedroom. I mixed a good number of the kit's chemicals together in a test tube, held it over the flame, and watched the mixture start to bubble. To stop the mixture from boiling over I thought it would make good sense to place a rubber cork in the tube. The concoction continued to percolate. I was stunned to see what happened next. The test tube exploded and black soot was all over the walls and ceiling. This was not good! When I shared what happened with my mother I was not in her good books and she threatened to not let me play in my hockey game that afternoon.
Well, fast forward 15 years. We are opening presents at my parents home. My parents give our two-year old son Matthew his present. He quickly opens his present to find a Boston Bruins jersey. Well, we have never seen a young child show so much joy in receiving a gift. He was jumping up and down as he could hardly wait to put on his Bruins jersey. His exuberation and joy brought tears to the eyes of everyone.
As I reflect back, if I wanted to bring tears of joy to my parents I should have asked for a hockey sweater!
Yorkton This Week thanks all of our contributors for sharing their memories and wishes all of our readers a very merry Christmas to generate the memories of tomorrow.