When my parents got the house in Hall Lake, we got our first family Christmas tree ourselves. We made our own decorations. My mother looked stressed out at the time because it was the first house that our family ever had. Until then, we had been living at my maternal grandparent’s house until I was about 8 years old. We lived in a cabin at Pesiw Lake but this was the first time we had a real house.
My mom – nimāmā, wanted to get to get a tree for Christmas like we did at my grandmother and grandfathers house. My dad – nipāpā, had been out line-cutting and would not be back until after Christmas. It was up to my mom to get the tree.
We got our tree but, we did not have many decorations. My mom received some leftover décor from my grandparents, so she cut up some of them and taped the golden strips onto our angel, which was just a cardboard cutout. She made the angel look beautiful. She was happy to see our delighted expressions as she held it up.
My siblings and I joined in to make a chain out of coloured construction paper and made ornaments out of paper cutouts. We did have tinsel and that added a sparkling look to our dismally bald tree.
nimāmā always did the best she could for us. She knew we were used to the big Christmas feasts we had at 101 Reserve and she tried her best to bring cheer to us. We were seemingly isolated from all the family we knew, and she had to do what she could.
The Christmas presents were already purchased while we were in La Ronge at kōmpanihk – The Bay. They were wrapped and not too well hidden. I tried peeking at what was inside them, but I couldn’t do it without ripping the paper. I tried telling by the weight of the present and by the feel of it. I couldn’t even guess what it was.
On a side note, I posted a question on what “kōmpanihk” means on La Ronge Cree Language Group and my friend James Eninew gave me the answer. It means “At the company” in Creenglish (Cree and English mixed together). Thank you James.
nikāwiy – my mother
nimāmā – my mother (the way most of us say it in La Ronge)
nohtāwiy – my father
nipāpā – my father (the way most of us say it in La Ronge)
nimosōm – my grandfather used to tell me so many stories about people that lived here or near here. He was a great storyteller and may have taken many liberties with the details. I loved to hear those stories and made my imagination very active with thought and wonder. I give credit to those stories to the storytelling I do with this website, passing on a tradition in a modern way. I also used to tell stories to my children off the top of my head, just to entertain them. I have forgotten more stories than I have on this website.
I remember one story about Hall Lake, where he told me that when he arrived on the lake from a portage, he heard a moose splashing around the shore of the lake. He went further and heard another moose going into the lake in another part of the lake. He heard one more near the mouth of one of the rivers, we have two but he didn’t say which one. I could not imagine that happening in this day and age, nor the time he was telling me the story because there were already many houses and people on the reserve. By the way, Hall Lake in Cree, is mōso-sākahikanisīsihk, according to my late grandfather.