Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Tale of the Native Nativity

Layla attends school on a Native reserve and has been very lucky to be involved with and learn many of the beliefs and customs of the Osoyoos Indian Band, including their Okanagan Language.

This Christmas Layla's school, Sen Pok Chin, decided to reproduce the Tale of the Nativity, as written by the children of the Inkameep Day School in 1940, exactly 70 years ago. The play was great but I also enjoyed the speakers prior to the play who spoke of the history of the school and the challenges they had to deal with in keeping their culture alive. We even heard from some of the band's Elders who had been students at this school in the 1940s. They spoke about the great successes of the school's art and drama productions. They even have a letter from Walt Disney inviting them to Disneyland. Unfortunately, due to the World War, they were unable to attend but the letter will be put on display at the Desert Cultural Centre at Nk'mip Resort. There are few pieces left to show for the many productions they put on. When their teacher enlisted for war, the new teacher taught them that what they were doing was evil and burned all of their masks, costumes and so forth.

The Elders were followed by the play, A Tale of the Native Nativity. I was not successful at getting very good photos, especially since I was wrestling the badest-boy-ever the whole time. Hope you get the idea anyways.

Act One

The Play begins in a small village where Mari is visited by the winged man to tell her she will become the mother of the great chief.

Act Two

The couple travel to the village of the Great Chief and as no TeePees or lodges are available, they live in a cave with the animals to entertain them and keep them warm. Here the baby is born and they are visited by three hunters and three chiefs.

Act Three

Mari and Susap take the baby to see the Prophet and the Medicine Woman. When they are visited by the Winged Man, they learn that the baby is in danger and they must move again.

The children did a fantastic job. Layla was a winged man along with the rest of her grade one classmates. They sang some beautiful Christmas songs in English as well as in Okanagan.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas For Me

I grew up as the 6th of 7 children. We moved around a lot and usually did not have a lot of extended family close by. Christmas's for us were spent with each other with the occasional visit from grandparents. I have a lot of great memories of the holidays but these memories are not of gifts, or parties. My memories are all of the weeks prior to Christmas where my Mom made each of us feel involved and excited to participate in the preparation for Christmas.

My mom baked at Christmas. She baked a lot! We all knew what type of treats we could expect. Home made marshmallows that we all got to garnish with sprinkles, coconut, crushed almonds, etc., thimble cookies, sour cream cookies that we all helped cut out and decorate, cherry balls, pies, nanaimo bars and all sorts of deliciousness.

The baking was great but my favourite tradition was making ornaments. My mom is crafty, this is true, but I can only imagine how much patience is required to teach and help all of us to make or own ornaments no matter our skill level. I remember being impressed as my mom was able to blow all the innards of an egg out of a tiny pin hole. (I still can't do that) We decorated cartons and cartons of eggs for our tree. I remember being amazed at how well she could paint ceramic figurines and how excited I was to paint some of my own.

The most exciting part of Christmas though was the day she pulled out all of the decorations and we decorated the house and trimmed the tree as a family. We always had Christmas music on and she let us decorate as we wanted. I remember it all. The village that she created by hand, the nativities she made, and how fun it was to set them all up. Each year it was fun to pull out all of the ornaments and recall making them. My mom let us trim the tree without much direction and it always looked great. Those are the Holiday moments that I most cherish. After all these years, I remember very few of the gifts I received, but the times spent with my brothers and sisters and mom and dad are clear and cherished every year as I try to do the same with my own family.

My mom managed to instill in me a love for arts and crafts but her talent must skip a generation. My children are only 2 and 6 years old but Layla and I have made ornaments and decorations every year to the sounds of the Osmond Family Christmas or Boney M blaring in the background.

My tree is still adorned with ornaments from my childhood that I made or ones that my mom made and I loved. It is like opening a time capsule every year when we bring out the decorations. My tree is full of 30 year old eggs, hand crafted bells, tiny mittens that my mom knit, an angel made out of noodles from when I was in grade 1, ceramic ornaments that have lasted over 25 years to make it to my tree and, of course, the ornaments that Layla and I contribute each year.

This year Layla and I took all of the boring silver balls that we had and jazzes them up with paint and sparkles. We painted some new ceramic ornaments and hung them. We jazzed up some old silver butterfly ornaments with some new color and sparkle. All the while, blaring the same Christmas songs that I listened to as a child and now listened to my own daughter sing along to.

I am so grateful for my Mom for making these times so special for our family. I am so grateful for her for keeping all of us (even us young ones) included. I love that my tree has so much meaning and history. I love that I have so many wonderful Christmas memories and that they all include my family. I love recalling the live Nativity my family participated in. I love how peaceful our home was on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I love how my Dad took charge of Christmas breakfast. I love how much we were brought together as a family during the Holidays and am so thankful for my parents for all that they did for us.

The MacKenzie Clan - Back L-R: Jen, Grammy, Me, Amy, Mom, Dad, Rob Front: Mike, Grandad, Sara (Emily not yet born)
I love my Mom, I love my Family - Thank you!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Short trip..Big Visit

Owning a big dog is all kinds of wonderful but it does have one big drawback. Travel. We don't have anyone here to dog-sit for us so Big Chester gets to go wherever we go.

That must make him a very well-travelled dog! No, it doesn't, it makes us a not very well-travelled family.

The one place Chester is always welcome is Magrath. The Bournes have graciously accepted our Mastiff as family so we do most of our travels to Southern Alberta.

When we got the invitation to my cousin Tania's wedding I was excited that it was in Raymond because I thought I could see a lot of family in just one trip!

After pulling an all-nighter through the mountains we arrived at the Bournes at about 5am their time (4am BC time). It was worth it though because we got to visit with my parents, Greg's parents, a few siblings, and lots of long-lost cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles.

Baron got to meet a little boy cousin the same age as him. Him and James Quist were so cute together and enjoyed playing a little catch with Baron's basketball.

Tania's wedding was lots of fun. The kids and adults all had a great time.

Here is my Dad dancing with the bride.

Layla was so excited for Tania to throw the bouquet! She criticized her toss for the rest of the night. She thought she should have done a re-do after the first toss ended up landing on a table a few rows back, knocking over some water and eventually into the hands of Richard Loose's girlfriend. Greg, however, breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

With temperatures flirting with 30 degrees this week we ventured out on some new hikes. We climbed up high enough so that we overlooked fields of orchards full of blooms in white and pink, vineyards, Lake Osoyoos, wetlands, mountains, and desert terrain. It was lovely. We couldn't take our eyes off it...that is..until we realized poor Chester hobbling along to keep up.

As soon as we looked down we realized we had been trampling through countless clusters of cacti. They were in my shoes, Greg's shoes, but luckily not the kid's shoes. Of course, the Chester had it the worst.

After immediately retreating from our new hike we spent some time pulling out needles from the dog and our shoes.

We made our way to good ol' Road 22. We saw our first snake of the year but he didn't make it across the road, poor lil fella.

Baron got to get face-to-face with some horses for the first time. He loves horses but had never been close enough to touch one before. He ran down the path full speed to get to them but when Greg lifted him up to pet him he got very nervous.

The dog always keeps a real good distance from the horses. Just stands there, watching and waiting until we've had our fill.

It's so great to have the hot weather back and enjoy the outdoors here. It is, after all, what we moved here for.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Big Bare and his Basketball

When I tell someone Baron really loves basketball, what I mean to say is that Baron has an obsession with basketball. It was one of his first 5 words, starting out as b'ball, working up to ba-het-ball, and now a proper basketball. He is about 20 months old now and his obsession is as strong as ever.

He started at a new day home in March. We told them all he needs is a ball and he's happy. After a day or two with Baron they marvelled, "That boy doesn't love basketball...he is OBSESSED!!!" He points out every single basketball hoop (and then some) on walks, car-rides, any outing, really. If you took a tally, you would find that he said basketball more than any other word, at least 100 times a day, at least!!

At the park Baron will stand in front of the hoops and pretend to shoot without a ball. He bends his knees and adds a bit of a bounce like his Dad before the "release". He also adds his own "swish" verbally. He is currently working on his dribbling, and trying so hard to jump. He can just about get air...he tries so hard! He catches the ball just as well as his 5 year old sister.

So what does this all mean? Probably nothing. But maybe, just maybe, Baron will take after his namesake, Baron Davis, and be the first person with Goldenhar's Syndrome in the NBA.

What? It could happen!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Last Easter Layla woke up in the middle of the night to find that the Easter bunny had left an egg on her pillow. She was so excited that we allowed her to go ahead with the egg hunt. She grabbed a flashlight, ran outside and filled her basket with all the eggs she could find. This year she planned for the same. Around 1130pm she came into our room to wake us up and announce that the Easter Bunny had been here! We let Baron sleep but the rest of us trekked out to the backyard. She spotted some eggs inside too but was kind enough to leave those for Baron to find in the morning.

Layla was the first one up in the morning but we woke up Baron to join in the fun. He was a bit confused at first but it didn't take him long to realize what was going on.
Layla enthusiastically helped Baron fill his basket with all the goodies they could find. Somehow the Easter Bunny knew about Baron's obsession with basketball and had left a big stuffed basketball for him to sleep with.

We wrapped it up with a turkey feast for dinner. I love holidays, and watching the kid's excitement. I am already looking forward to Christmas...