Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas and Deceased Relatives - Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

ROGERS family plot, Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, 1954

December 20 - Christmas and Deceased Relatives

Did your family visit the cemetery at Christmas? How did your family honor deceased family members at Christmas?

I don’t remember that we ever visited the cemetery as a family at Christmas, although I do recall many visits to Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver, Canada, where most of our deceased family members were buried in B.C. My dad used to visit his parents’ graves for birthdays, and since his father’s birthday was December 20th, so close to Christmas, Dad probably counted that as a Christmas visit. I don’t remember our taking any flowers or wreaths, but Dad may have.

My grandpa, Joe Rogers, worked at Mountain View as a gardener, and as a young boy, my dad had worked with grandpa, so he was very familiar with the cemetery and used to tell us stories which I now wish I had paid much more attention to.

I’ve not made regular visits to the cemetery myself until recently. I’ve sometimes wondered why, given my interest in the past. There’s now an annual ‘A Night for All Souls’ event at Mountain View Cemetery which I’ve been attending and I’ve gone to the various graves then. Sometimes I’ve gone on Remembrance Day as well, as both my parents were in the Canadian Army.

Since there is rarely much snow here, it wouldn’t be any problem to go at Christmas or perhaps on Boxing Day. I love the idea of the grave blankets Creative Gene shows in the post on this same subject, but those may not be allowed here. Still both my parents would be happy with some holly, I expect, as our childhood house had two holly trees and we always decorated with holly - likely Grandma and her parents, my GGrandma & GGrandpa (Staines; Saggers) too -holly seems pretty ‘English’, like them.

We certainly knew about our three grandparents who’d died, and my dad’s brother, David, who died as a boy, and my great uncle ‘Bert’ who was killed in World War I. Many things in our house and my Na’s apartment came from family – not only photographs, but chairs and tables - so I think I felt they were ‘there’. (My bedside table as a child and now was Bert’s ‘smoking’ cabinet.)

I still have many things from family around me – I believe I find this comforting, and yes, still chairs and tables. The desk I’m writing on was my mum’s. The table my printer and scanner sit on was my grandpa Joe’s, my favourite reading chair was aunty grandma's. (My kids just think this is weird or maybe, cheap. Have I mentioned they’re not into the family history thing? Yet…)

There wasn’t much talk at Christmas directly about deceased family. I would guess my parents and Na wouldn’t have thought that appropriate ‘around the children’. My Na did talk often about her husband, my grandpa Scott, who died before I was born, but almost always in the context of their busy life with friends and family in Newdale. She never dwelt on sad things and I never guessed till years later about the hard times they must have had. She and my mum did ‘reminisce’, of course, sometimes. They didn’t talk much about Christmas or death, but there were many happy times associated with December too, as many people in my family were born or married then, even some married on Christmas Day, which used to be more common.

See the entire Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories,

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