Phyllis Waugh

The Good Life in Langley: Pioneer reflections on the holidays

A Langley Lodge resident recalls past Christmases.

Well into her 93rd year, Phyllis Gertrude Waugh’s best memories of Christmases past to present revolve around food and family.

The youngest of four siblings, Waugh was born in Saskatchewan and at age 12 moved to South Langley with her father, mother, and older brother. That was 1935 – and as she recounts times were tough in the midst of the Great Depression.

“We didn’t get much because there wasn’t the money around then… we were brought up pretty skimpy, as you might say,” Waugh recalled of her Christmases on the Prairies and and early years in Langley.

As a child, she doesn’t remember ever having a trees or gifts to mark Christmas.

But what she fondly remembers through all the decades is how this holiday brought her family together.

Entertaining inside her sixth-floor room at Langley Lodge late last week, Waugh shared some of those memories of Christmases past with the Langley Advance, turning occasionally to her daughter Lois Edwards to help jog her memory.

“Back then, very few people had money for extras,” Waugh recounted. “We all just came together… It was about people… and we always had lots to eat.”

One aspect of the holidays, which she remember vividly, is the extra efforts her mother took to make Christmas Day special.

For instance, Mom always served up a “delicious” dinner – some years that meant turkey, complete with gravy and vegetables – while other years it was a simpler meal, Waugh recalled. “She always made Christmas special for us.”

Likewise, Edwards said Waugh has kept those traditions alive for future generations.

Waugh always sewed clothing for her kids, always did lots of baking – her personal favourite being her Christmas cake – and, always brought the family together for the holidays.

Today, with four children, four grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and two great, great-grandchildren in her posse, Waugh said her favourite part about Christmas has remained unchanged.

She still longs to see her family – or at least all those who can make it – together to share a meal and merriment of the season.

She’s looking forward to this year’s feast, being held this weekend at Edwards’ home. At least 14 of her family members are expected to attend.

Without question, Waugh said, she is looking forward to some turkey, some Christmas cake, and the camaradarie.

“I’m looking forward to just the family being together.”

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