The Canadian years,18, the invitation

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Thursday 27 November 13:28



The children were very excited at the primary school it was all getting prepared for Christmas. You noticed Christmas approaching everywhere, the shops were decorated with garlands and baubles and Christmas songs met you all day wherever you went. Where 14th street ended in outlying areas, 6 houses each year competed to be the most 'Christmassy'. Where the city had swelled and met the prairie, these houses stood on huge plots of land. They had made themselves a point of interest. Not only were the roofs lined with brightly colored lights but the fence and the trees as well  and some sported fake deer. Calgarians knew of this infighting between the neighbors and that was the reason in the evening that traffic crawled  along these houses, whose owners enjoyed the attention they got. The electricity company was doing good business. Oh well, it was harmless fun. We had  also put a tree up and it made our home a lot  cozier. Dean Martin wailed from the radio that .. 'it will soon bee..eee Chrishismas day ..' people were really in the mood.

The meter reader came along and he was totally into the Christmas spirit. He had a red cap on with a bell dangling down from it. My mother gave him a cup of tea and the guy had a chat. ‘Whether we had family in Alberta or Canada?’’No,’ my mother said. ‘Phew,’ the man said, ‘and around Christmas, then you should just be with your family.’ ‘I think it's the finest time of year,’ the man said.’ You have a few days off and you're with your family and spoil each other’. I was reading a book and meanwhile thought about what the gasman had said. He was right, later in life, a family  would go it’s way. People went to live far away or got married and had obligations on both sides of the family. When you had your family still around, you ought to cherish the time you were together. That was the time when memories are formed, which you would have to draw on in your later life.


I returned just in time from my musings, to hear that the meterman invited us and the whole family to celebrate Christmas day and dinner with him and his family. ‘What terriblly kind,’ my mother said, but I really can not accept that. We have five children, you see.’ ‘I will call my wife now, ‘the man said,’ may I use your phone?’ He spoke a moment with his wife about the lovely Dutch family with no family..and it being Christmas and all, and a moment later he asked my mother to come to the phone. So much hospitality you'll find only in North America, I know now.It was sincere kindness. The harsh Canadian society was forgotten a few days at Christmas and people were genuinely kind.

That evening at the table my mother started asking about it. ‘Father, do you have plans for Christmas?’ ‘No’, my father said, ‘not really.’ ‘I do,’ she said.’ We're going to celebrate Christmas with another family’. ‘How is that,’ asked my father? ‘We have been invited by the family of the meter reader’. ‘The meter reader, the meter reader,’ my father said, do we know him then?’ ‘I do,’ my mother said, ‘and it's a very nice man. I have also spoken with his wife and in about a week, we will go there the whole day and share Christmas dinner together.’ My father replied that he liked it very much but his eyes betrayed him and spoke volumes. ‘I wonder if we would have been invited if I opened the door open, he wondered aloud.’ I knew the answer, ‘absolutely not!’ The man had been cold and  in the Christmas mood and like my sister, my mother was pretty. My father had made assessments. He was jealous that someone  could talk with my mom in his kingdom during his absence. I understood that, but I had  been there and it had all been in innocent goodness.


‘Dad,’ I said, ‘it seems very nice to me and he was in a right Christmas mood’. My father raised his hand and put me to silence. ‘ You see an idiot and you hear the idiot,’ he said. I colored a little and kept my mouth shut. ‘Are there many of those men that come inside’ asked my father? ‘No silly,’ said my mother while laughing. ‘Meter men do, because if the meters would sit outside they would freeze uo’. ‘Gee, it seems  nice to me,’ said my father, he took control again. ‘I'm going to buy a good bottle of whiskey and you, and he pointed to my sister, will bake a bunch of stuff with Mom which we  then can take along’.’ His wife has bought  everything’, my mother said, ‘and implored me not to bring anything’. ‘That's possible, said my father but we do not go empty handed, because we’d seem on the dole and I do not like to be seen as a beggar and the discussion was closed.

My sister, meanwhile, had taken her test to obtain a learner’s license, then you could gain under the guidance of an adult experience in car driving. It was called a ‘learner's permit ',  when you were 14 you could do a theory test and then you received an' L 'license to practice. . My sister and I had studied the booklet with theory and we both secured the piece of paper, after  a multiple choice test and that was it, a piece of paper without a picture, with the "L" on it . From your 16th on, you could go up for your ‘real license’ and if successful, the 'L' was turned into a 'D' from  Drive. Just before Christmas my sister got her license and so we went to ‘the family gas meter’ in two cars because the krautcan had been given to my sister. My father drove ahead in his brand new fastback and we followed him in the krautcan.

San Daniel 2014 

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