Spa­niard’s Bay

The Compass - - PORTHTE -

Ed Neil, an ac­tive mem­ber of the Spa­niard’s Bay Her­itage So­ci­ety, re­mem­bers what Christ­mas was like grow­ing up in Con­cep­tion Bay North in the 1950s.

“What mem­o­ries!” the 67year-old chair­man of the Bay Arena As­so­ci­a­tion ex­claims.

Christ­mas was a “12- day fami- ly/com­mu­nity/chris­tian fes­ti­val that usu­ally be­gan on Tibb’s Eve (usu­ally Dec. 23, the day be­fore Christ­mas Eve) with the rit­ual of cut­ting a real Christ­mas tree by our dad and un­cle. This was usu­ally com­bined with a few grog. It (Christ­mas sea­son) ended on Old Christ­mas Day, Jan. 6, a fort­night later.”

Neil, who is also past chair­man of the Trinity Con­cep­tion Placentia Health Foun­da­tion, re­calls, “there were very few out­door dec­o­ra­tions in those days, but in­side all was bright and cherry, with dec­o­ra­tions ev­ery­where, even in­side the church.

“Christ­mas Eve Night was a won­der,” the re­tired teacher re­calls.

“It was the most sa­cred night of the year and the be­gin­ning of the Christ­mas sea­son. Cel­e­bra­tions be­gan with the 11 p.m. church ser­vice. Much of the church com­mu­nity turned out from far and near for the spe­cial ser­vice that few wanted to miss. The church would be blocked.

“Af­ter ex­chang­ing Christ­mas greet­ings, we re­turned home, usu­ally to a boiler of home­made soup and some salt fish pur­chased from the Labrador fish­er­men ear­lier in the fall. We chat­ted and grogged into the wee hours of the morn­ing un­til the gifts mag­i­cally ap­peared un­der the tree.

“Christ­mas Day greeted us with the once-a-year-aroma of the Christ­mas turkey roast­ing in the oven for the feast that day.”

The next two weeks were taken up with jan­ny­ing, vis­it­ing, danc­ing, singing, Christ­mas con­certs, moon­light skat­ing, fruit cake and clingy, laugh­ter and friend­ship with a pa­rade some­where in be­tween it all.

For Neil, “the whole won­drous event cre­ated trea­sured mem­o­ries that last a life­time.”

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