Desharnais values homemade Christmas gifts

Jeannine Desharnais recalls doll and homemade rocking crib she got as a Christmas gift when she was four years old.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Jeannine Desharnais says Christmas was enjoyable as a child many decades ago.
“Christmas was simple back then,” says Desharnais, 77, who makes her home in Falher at the Villa Beausejour.
“It was about Midnight Mass and opening gifts, it was elaborate as it is today.”
She grew up three miles south of Falher as the eldest of eight children of Paul-Emile and Ida Cote.
“We got homemade gifts,” Desharnais says.
She recalls special gifts she received when she was four years old.
“My Dad built me a wooden rocking crib for my doll that Mom bought for me,” Desharnais says.
“Mom made dresses for the doll.”
She has another Christmas memory as an even younger child. As as toddler, she and the family travelled by train to Quebec one year after Christmas to visit grandparents near Rimouski and other extended family.
“I don’t remember anything about visiting family,” Desharnais says.
“I was just two years old, but I remember travelling by train.
“We stopped along the way in Montreal and Quebec City to visit relatives.”
Back at home in Alberta, the Christmas season was a big time for the Cotes.
“We always had a close-knit family at Christmas,” Desharnais says.
“We always had company over from Christmas to New Year’s Day.”
When driving was difficult, especially in winter, they travelled from Falher, Girouxville and Jean Cote, which doesn’t seem to be such a big deal decades later with modern vehicle and roads.
She remembers travelling to relatives in a popular vehicle of the day.
“We travelled by caboose, it was a heated caboose,” Desharnais says.
“It was difficult to drive in winter.”
On Christmas Eve, it was off to the church for Midnight Mass in Falher at Paroisse Ste. Anne Parish.
“It was a Catholic Mass with the homily and celebrating Christ,” Desharnais says.
After Mass, some relatives, friends and neighbours gathered at the Cote home.
“We sang Christmas carols, opened gifts and had a small luncheon,” Dube says.
Christmas Day was the time for the main festive dinner with family, she says.
“We had all kinds of desserts and chocolates,” Dube says.
The Cote home was always decorated at Christmas.
“We had a Christmas tree,” Desharnais says.
“We children had fun going to find a tree on our property or nearby.”
The tree and the house were decorated.
“We had garlands in windows and some ribbons,” Desharnais says.

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