© Tara Morsette
After we opened our presents about 11:00-12:00 PM, we would load up the car with the rest of the presents and make the drive out to my grandparents. For a few years that would be to MacGregor, MB, then they moved to Portage La Prairie. We lived in the West End on Clifton Street at that time and I always remember seeing the image of a man, looking like he was leaning against a wall, with the statement “57 (or whatever the number was) miles to Portage” on the side of a building in St James. All I could think was how long of a drive it was going to be!!
All my Christmas memories from my childhood are from when they were in Portage. There would be a houseful there every Christmas, my family and all my cousins, aunts and uncles from my mom’s side. We would play shuffle board and pool all day or just hang out. When it came time for the feast, my grandma turned the pool table into a dining table and the kids would all get shuffled to the pool table to eat. My favourite was my grandma’s Christmas pudding with the warm sauce that was poured over it. The sauce made the pudding.
My grandpa passed away in 1989, but grandma still insisted on having Christmas at the house in Portage. The numbers slowly dropped as my cousins got older and “going to grandma’s” was “not cool” or they had their own lives by then. When it got to be too much for grandma to look after the house herself and she ended up moving, Christmas was taken over by my family.
It was never the same as having everyone together in one house. The once a year that it did happen was the most precious time for me. My cousins mean the world to me and to spend that time with them I will treasure as long as I live.