The neighbour’s annual Christmas holiday gathering 2021
Last week after I wrote my blog, I went for a nice walk in the snow to look for the eagles that soar over our lake this time of year. I slipped on a slight skiff of snow on ice and fell and broke my ankle. Two trips to the hospital, one surgery, a cast and crutches later, I’m now staring down 6-8 weeks of sitting on my couch with all our holiday plans scuppered.
As the week wore on, we started getting calls and texts from neighbours who said they were planning to pop by with food. Not just food, full meals of pork roast and potatoes, Morroccan chicken with salad, pulled pork, beef brisket, ribs and chicken wings and treats and wine. We have enough food in the fridge now to last until Christmas without having to cook a meal!
We’ve always been blessed with best neighbours. As a kid growing up in Port Credit, our neighbourhood and the people in it were our entire world. All the neighbourhood kids hung out together playing street hockey in the winter and baseball in the summer. The Moms of the Neighbourhood were a powerful posse, watching over and taking care of us. On the one hand, it was great. If you needed help–you could knock on any door, but the downside was there were about 25 other parents watching your every move who could get you in trouble!
I appreciated this amazing group of women even more as a teenager when my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. For seven years, they visited, brought us food and helped drive my Mom to appointments, and then doing the same for my father after she passed away.
In 1995, Dave and I made a huge leap of faith and moved to a small farmhouse outside of the village of Sydenham where we didn’t know a soul. Our first two sets of neighbours were a family of sheep farmers and a single guy, a military communications officer named Kramer.
Kramer was like the Kramer of Seinfeld fame with a big personality and a big heart, but with a lot less hair. He would show up at our door out of the blue with a whiskey bottle in hand or come for dinner, and stay until the wee hours of the morning. We’d push him out the back door, watching him stumble and weave across the lawn in the moonlight and up the steps until he was home safe.
On the other side of us was a lovely family of five called the Orsers. They too became fast friends and we’d visit back and forth, especially during lambing season when Dave and I would spend hours in their barn, petting and holding the baby lambs. During the ice storm of ’98 when we lost power for two days, Neil and Pat and the kids all bunked down at our house since we had a wood stove.
When Kramer moved to the Wasaga Beach area, we said our sad goodbyes and welcomed new neighbours into our midst: a young couple by the name of Jeff and Karrie. Jeff and Karrie became some of our closest friends. It was Jeff who found our beloved cat Angus dead, hit by a car on the road and gently put him in a box and broke the news to us when we came home from work. It was Jeff and Karrie who babysat Grace for the first time, giving us our first afternoon out as new parents. They live in Edmonton now—our kids are all grown up, but we still keep in touch.
When we made the move from Sydenham to Verona, we thought the same thing: there is no way we’ll ever have such great neighbours, but yet again, we were wrong. Our one neighbour Mark Berry reminded me so much of my Dad who had passed away just after we moved into our beautiful lakefront property.
Mark was the inventor of the “unbirthday party”. He’d putter over to our house on his tractor bearing gifts for us and the kids “just because”. His dog Buddy became best friends with our border collie, even sleeping some nights on our deck in our lawn chairs in the summer. We were very sad when he moved back to Toronto to be closer to his children.
Fast forward to today, when once again we have the best neighbours ever. Through the years, our little tight-knit community has grown even closer. Whether it’s popping by for a drink, getting together to celebrate one of the kids’ birthdays next door, graduation celebrations, Canada Day fireworks, or our Christmas Eve tradition of gathering at one of our houses, our time spent together has become some of my favourite memories here on the lake.
They’ve become extended family, and have been a huge life support for us, especially this year. I honestly don’t know what we would have done without them.
So thanks my dear friends and neighbours, for your love and support, friendship and all the delicious food that is now overspilling from my fridge. I look forward to sharing many more precious memories in the years ahead with my favourite neighbours, the best neighbours in the world!
Clare trick or treating with the neighbours’ kids this year
Pizza making party next door!