Not totally photo related, not just a journal. A bit of both.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ten Years on

I dont expect too many people to read this today given it is Christmas, but today is the tenth anniversary of my mom's death in 1998. Tough to not think of her at this time. Seems like forever she has been gone. And at other times it seems like just yesterday.

Christmases growing up were always a small affair with my family. Just me, my parents and my brother. My Nana would come over for dinner but not often, and she passed away in 1979. They were never times of lots of traveling or tons of relatives around. My uncles live in Florida and in Spain. So we never saw them much and we never went on vacation to visit either growing up.

It has been probably close to 25-30 years since I saw my Uncle Murray - who is in Madrid, and a few years since I saw my Uncle Rob when I was last in Naples, Florida. Curiously it was after my mom died that I got in touch with my mom's cousin in New Zealand. She is the family historian and I learned quite a few things about the family through her. I never would have visited my great great grandfather's ship, The Star of India, in San Diego had it not been for her.

Christmases always started with stockings on the doorknobs of the bedrooms - we had no fireplace. Well not a real one. So I am not exactly sure how Santa got in... And I remember amongst the small presents, Mandarin oranges in the stockings. We never had tons of presents but my brother and I never really wanted for anything growing up. I can recall getting one of the first cassette tape, am/fm radio Sony Walkmans one year. The ones that were a size of a brick. :) But we always got a ton of Lego.

Christmas was always turkey- like most people, and I recall Christmas pudding which was set on fire and had a brilliant blue flame. I was never sure what the alcohol was, though a quick google tells me it was brandy. Lots of alcohol for sure - though we were not allowed to have a big piece or any at all depending on how old we were. Later, when my parents were retired, it was more of a simple meal but always very good. My mom was always a good cook. :) I miss her Shepard's pie and lasagna. And hearing her voice. And that of my dad too of course.

Biggest Christmas dinners I ever had were with my ex's family when we were together. Three or four generations at one or two tables at her parent's place here in London. Maybe 12-15 people in all. I was at one of those Christmas's in 1998 when I got the call late in the morning or early in the afternoon from Toronto that my mom had passed away in St. Michael's Hospital Palliative Care ward. My bro and dad were there. I had been there that morning with my ex quite early before driving to London. I got to say my good byes but I wasn't there when she passed. And I felt bad for that. On some levels I still do.

It was tough in the following years to be 'happy' on Christmas with my ex's family. Can't help but think about sad things on that day. This day. I know it was a bit of a downer for those around me and they all tried to take my mind of it and stuff. And to a degree it worked. They are good people to say the least.

Being single now, I don't celebrate Christmas. I avoid all things with it. Well perhaps that's too harsh. I choose to not be involved in the season - and politely decline invitations to things. It is my day to be alone. Besides, Christmas is now much less about someone who was nailed to a cross a couple of milennia ago in a far off land. It is pretty much just a commercial exercise that the retail economy depends on full force.

I won't go near a mall in late November and all of December. I never liked big crowds in the first place, and in a way its great I dont need to fight them. Though there is nothing like Walmart at midnite for shopping - even in the middle of a snowstorm like on the 22nd of December. :) The only insanity I experienced this month was hitting the LCBO with someone from work yesterday on the way home. It was a zoo with each cashier having 20 or more people lined up. But I have Baileys now. :)

It is Grinch like to some people not in the know, but it is my choice and I am fine with it. And this year, for the first time in my life, I have really no money for presents or to entertain - or barely to survive and pay bills, so it is a super quiet day for me. I might even go see a movie with all the Jewish and Asian folks. That would actually be amusing. :) I will go out and shoot a couple of pics with the blue sky and white snow though.

Yvonne Marion Land ( later Wood)

Speaking of images, that photo is a scan of a 4x5 inch print of my mom wearing a kimono taken during Christmas at 45 Kitano-Cho in Kobe, Japan in the mid 1930s. While she and my uncles were British, they were born in Japan while my grandfather was working there in the pre war years. They all left Japan before the war. My Uncle Murray said that tree was of the sort that seemed to appear as if by magic on Christmas morning, the adults decorating it and the house after the children had gone to bed on Christmas Eve. Joan places the image in 1937. She said my mom and Joan always wore Japanese clothes at Christmas. Joan said that she kept her kimono long after she outgrew it and her mom eventually turned it into a dress for her when she was living in Rangoon, Burma.

I made a high res scan and worked it in Photoshop for a bit to remove some age related scratches, dust and such. I can make a good sized print out of it now and sent a copy to my brother. There is certainly a resemblance between my niece Jillian and my mom looking at this and a recent shot my brother sent me. They are even about the same age I think.

This was the first time I tried to restore an older image and I liked the results.

** If the image didnt import into Facebook, take a look at it on the original post on my blog.

Merry Christmas everyone.


Mike Wood Photography

1 comment:

Leanne said...

Merry Christmas Mike.

Wanna do coffee one day this week?