winter has hit

In the last week alone, Sault Ste. Marie has received over 4 inches of snow. The most recent snow activity was yesterday and today – it hasn’t stopped snowing.

The image on the left was taken before the new snow fall. Notice the picture-window on the right side. The majority of houses in this part of town were built in the 1950; and having a picture-window was how you announced that you were living in a new house and that you were a young family.

Talking with friends of my parents, a couple of facts intruded into my consciousness:

  • when we came to Canada, in 1957, I was already 8 therefore the Santa myth was never part of my experience. And I never got Christmas presents.
  • In those early years, the tradition among the Calabrian families in Sault Ste Marie, was to exchange gifts with their friends and relatives. The gifts were for the adults. I can still remember one of the compari or commari visiting and coming with gifts that my mother would open as soon as they left. She wanted to make sure that the gift she bought was of equal value to what she had received. (It was all about saving face – vergogna – and not feeling ashamed of your gift.) The gifts were always household items for the women and a bottle of whiskey for the men. (I remember hating the fact that they would open the gifts before Christmas; open them, re-wrap them and then put them back under the tree. How immigrant.)
  • Another tradition was to spend Christmas afternoon visiting. My parents would go to their friends’ houses and at each house you drank a shot of whiskey in honor of the holiday. You then got in the car and went to the next friend’s house. Apparently back then, the police would help you if they saw you driving drunk. (I suspect that what prevented accidents was that there were very few cars on the road.)