Pineau treasured warm, homemade gifts

Rita Pineau remembers the days when she got dresses her mother made from flour sacks.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Rita Pineau is nearly 100 years old and still has many vivid memories of Christmas as a child as if they happened just yesterday.
“We always looked forward to midnight mass at the church,” says Pineau, 97, a resident of Villa Beausejour in Falher.
She grew up in Eaglesham and then Donnelly, the ninth oldest of 17 children of Alfred and Anga Boivin.
Living on a farm a fair distance from the community, it took a long time to get to the Eaglesham Catholic Church with a horse-drawn wagon.
“We had to leave at 10 in the morning to get there and we got home after mass around four in the morning.
“If it was too rough for the horses, we would take two bulls,” Pineau says.
They were all prepared for mass.
“We learned some special prayers.”
When they got home from mass, the children were eager to get a special treat.
“We had an orange and an apple,” Pineau says.
“Mom made some special sugar candy.”
Instead of finding the yummy treats in a stocking, they were inside a piece of paper shaped like a cone or funnel, with the opening the top.
“Sometimes we had socks inside,” Pineau says.
“Mom was a seamstress and she made us girls dresses.”
The clothes were made from flour sacks.
“She would dye the sacks different colours for the dresses.
“Sometimes mom made shirts for the boys.
“Those flour sacks made a lot of clothes.”
The family also got a special delivery from Montreal from her mother’s sister, who was rich, she says.
“Each Christmas, she would send us a box of moccasins, felt boots, old woolen socks and more,” Pineau says.
“That was a big help.”
The Christmas tree at home had some unusual decorations.
“We decorated the tree with slices of carrots,” Pineau says.
“We didn’t have decorations or lights on the tree.
“Years later, we had crepe paper and we made colourful decorations.”
Speaking of food, Christmas dinner was certainly delicious and was always served early Christmas Day after midnight mass.
“Sometimes it was at four o’clock in the morning,” Pineau says.
One of the turkeys on the farm was always on the menu.
And her mom always made lots of fancy cakes and doughnuts in December for Christmas.
Family gatherings grew as the children married and had their own children.
“Everyone had to sing and learn a new song,” Pineau says.
Children also had to sing and say a recitation they learned.

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