“Old Christmas Day.” thinks Ralph, “Years back we would be listening to see if the animals would talk, like the old timers said. Now I’m the old timer. Where does the time go?”
He can’t move as fast as he once could, time and toil have made the joints and muscles slower than they were.
His face, leathery from years of the elements, filled with creases. Character lines some call it, just another sign of the advancing years, but those creases just add expression when his face lights up in a smile, as it often does. Especially when he remembers the grandkids.
Another Christmas come and gone. The house seems so quiet now, without the sound of their delighted squeals and laughter, the sound of their feet pattering across the old floors.
Sighing “Well, time to get the tree down I guess.”
“Why don’t you come live with us, Dad? Why do you stay?” It’s a familiar refrain, heard many times. It runs through his head again now as he slowly puts away the decorations, some nearly as old as he is, lost in his memories.
The crystal ones were his wife’s favourite, gone now these past 10 years. A wistful look on his face as he looks at them one by one, delicate and beautiful, but strong too, as she was.
After putting the things up in their old familiar spots in the back room, he removes the tree from the old metal stand, it too nearly as old as himself. “Am still able to get about though.” he thinks “Still cut my own tree.”
Carrying it outside to the woodhouse, he pauses and surveys the harbour. Smoke floats straight up from Silas’ chimney, the only other person that seems to be up yet.
It’s so quiet, the water black calm, vapour rising in the chill air. Like the whole world is just pausing, taking a breath. So quiet, he can hear the scrape of Silas’s chair over the old wooden floor.
Why indeed? There’s not a lot here anymore, he has few friends left, most passed on or gone to live with family. Of the old gang, just him and Silas and old man Cooper down the way. “Odd” he thinks, “Always Cooper, never Jacob, not even when we were boys.”
Trimming the branches from the tree with the axe, he grabs the trunk and throws it on his shoulder and strolls towards Silas’ house. Its not much, but Silas can burn it in the old wood range, plus he will have the kettle on, a cup of tea will be good.
“Its not the same anymore Si” he says, as he sips tea from the old china cup, toast and the jam dish nearby.”
“I know its not Ralph, but we’re not the same anymore either. We’ve seen more than one pan of ice come in the harbour.” He pauses “Kids after you to move away again?”
Ralph looks up “Yeah, as usual, and they are likely right, but this is home you know? All the memories are here, my life has been here. Ah the memories.”
Raised in outport Newfoundland in a town of 65 people, I pursued a post secondary diploma in Information Technology right out of High School.
I’ve always been a geek at heart, but yet I love the rural life I grew up with. Fishing, hunting, camping and the great outdoors are still loves of mine, even if I don’t pursue them as often as I once did. Sports were always a big part of our lives, and I played many (badly) and loved them all.
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