Guay enjoyed the special music at mass

Cecile Guay recalls the hugs from her parents on New Year’s Day when the children got their Christmas gifts.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Cecile Guay has many special memories of Christmas as a young child growing up in McLennan.
“When I was nine years old, my father took me and some of my friends on a sleigh ride around town and we sang Christmas carols,” says Guay, 86, the fifth oldest child of Ernest and Alice Girard in a family of 14 children.
“When we got back home, we had boiled wheat.
“It was a treat to have boiled wheat; it was all fluffy.”
The wheat was boiled in a pot that was used to feed the pigs, notes Guay, a resident of Villa Beausejour in Falher.
On Christmas Eve, the family went to midnight mass at the Cathedrale St. John the Baptiste in a cutter [light horse-drawn sleigh].
A highlight for her was to hear her uncle Joe Marcoux and godfather Eugene Dubrule sing Ava Maria from the balcony.
“They would answer each other,” Guay says.
“It would uplift the church.”
In keeping with the Catholic tradition, the children received their Christmas gifts on New Year’s Day, she recalls.
“The gifts were in our stockings and we didn’t get many gifts,” Guay says.
“We usually got clothes we needed like socks, hairpins for the girls and the boys got a heavy undershirt because it was cold.”
The children got another special treat.
“Our parents would hug each of us children,” Guay says.
They received their gifts around seven o’clock in the morning before they had breakfast.
“We had a Christmas tree decorated with popcorn on a string and we made little paper angels at school for the tree,” Guay says.
She also recalls on New Year’s Day that her father and Uncle Albert Hamel played their violins together along the streets of McLennan.
Adults also went to Eugene Dubrule’s place for a New Year’s party.
Christmas dinner was served on Christmas Day with turkey and all the trimmings and meat pies.
Desserts were made with brown sugar and homemade cream.
“We had a close-knit Christmas Day,” Guay says.
“We learned to dance the jig and we also went skating on a pond.”
The family pet also got into the spirit of the season.
“We had a dog named Gyp and we put a bell on him for Christmas,” Guay says.
She remembers Christmas concerts at school.
“Sometimes I was one of the three wise,” Guay says.
“We did lots of plays.”

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