Off The Grid

Living off the Grid on a west coast island

of Christmas past


The windows were six feet high, plate-glass and stretched across the front of the house.

In the winter, the hazel nut-tree in front of the windows would fill with birds eating from the feeder filled with peanut butter and sunflower seeds. The boulevard in front of the house boasted a street light beside our driveway. The brick wall around the front patio garden was propped up against the house near where it fell the day Michael broke it in 1967 during a game of kick the can. There were twenty-seven kids on our street for games of kick the can and snowball fights.

I grew up in one of the nicer parts of a beautiful city. Mom was able to hold on to the house while she went back to University by shear will and determination. We shared a hedge with a pharmacist. To his disgust, we never had the money to have the hedge pruned professionally or repair the cracked driveway between us. The secluded garage out back became the graveyard for Moms 1965 Austin Mini and the playground of rodents and unnaturally large spiders. But the gardens, the gardens were beautiful.

If Mom had two dollars left at the end of the month, much to my disappointment,  she wouldn’t spend them on an upgrade from powdered milk but on a shrub from Murray’s Nursery. Over the twenty-two years which my Mother gardened in that house the property became enveloped in a scented wall of colour.

It was the sixties and Christmas wasn’t heralded in September, or October or even November. The Christmas season arrived the night, mid December when the snow would fall and the Salvation Army Band would magically appear under the boulevard light to play Silent Night. Five wandering minstrels would travel our neighbourhood every year with hat in hand. It was a sight to behold from the warmth of our living room through the large window to the street.  It seemed like  the next day Grandma would be in the kitchen making shortbread and gingerbread men

We got back from town yesterday with a full boat and a recovering dog. I hadn’t been to town for a while. I am pretty sure when I was there last it was still a drought and everyone was talking about wild fires. We landed in town Wednesday to discover hallmark had barfed all over Nanaimo… It was the strangest feeling to go from zero to St. Nick in one boat ride.

Don’t get me wrong.. I love Christmas and I loved decorating our old house but even I waited until December 1st. I have probably four bins of decorations. somewhere.. I have been told I am not allowed to bring them down until the furniture is in the house. I can’t put the furniture in the house until the floors are in…. Can’t put the floors in until the bathroom is done. etc.. you get the picture.

So to bring a little bit of the season to the house today I made gingerbread and filled the house with the scent

of Christmas past.



Author: Off Grid Islanders

We are a retired couple living on an off grid island on the West Coast

2 thoughts on “of Christmas past

  1. Christmas always brings out memories for me. While I love the season, it meant much more when I had more family to share it with. Wayne and I are all that’s left from both sides of our families. I make some of the traditional foods and do a bit of decorating, but that’s about it these years. We spend the day with a friend who has no family in the area. That’s one way to share the warmth of the season. – Margy

    • Sounds like you have figured out a way to celebrate.. whether its the way it used to be or not.. as long as you are with those you love…I hate the idea of someone being alone at Christmas .. its good you can share it with your friend too….

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