The first snowflakes of the season fluttered down softly, carried gently by the light breezes, back and forth across my path, until they finally touched the earth, and vanished. The very first snowfall of the year seemed magical, and we gazed up in wonder as if we’d never seen the fragile white crystals before.
It had been many, many months since the last few signs of snow had disappeared late in the spring, and I wondered to myself if these first light flakes of the new season would stay on the ground. Almost in unison with the first snow, the merchants of Perth began to decorate their windows for Christmas, and up and down Gore Street there were signs that Christmas was coming.
James Brothers, Stedman’s, and Beamish had bright lights and shiny garlands in their windows, and Shaw’s always had a festive window display.
A walk down to Haggis’ candy store was not to be missed, as Mrs. Nee’s colourful candy canes, creamy Christmas fudge, and salty nuts were temptingly displayed.
(photo of Sophia Haggis Nee in front of her shop at 60 Gore Street, Perth, Ontario)
The Perth Apothecary always had a beautiful Christmas window with all of their lotions and potions packaged so beautifully, ready to place under the tree.
The signs of the season weren’t visible only in the town of Perth.
Out in the country, we turned on our outdoor lights on December 1st, and even though the lane was long, we could see Dad’s handiwork as we drove up the Third Line, coloured lights draped round and round the spruce tree.
Tobias ‘Tib’ Stafford, attaching Christmas lights onto our spruce tree, Third Line, Bathurst Twp. , Lanark County – c. 1970s
Dad took great pride in his annual Christmas display, though it was a far cry from the elaborate decorations on the more stately homes in Perth. It’s strange how, as a child, the lights on your own home, no matter how modest; seem brighter, and more magical than all the rest.
That first, delicate snowfall of the year falls so silently, whispers so softly, and serves to remind us that Christmas is on its way. It’s time to gather the boxes of decorations from the attic, and time to test our outdoor displays. There are Christmas cards to prepare for mailing, and special foods and drinks to assemble for the big day.
Whenever I see that first snowfall, and the lights and displays all around, I am reminded of our own humble spruce tree on the Third Line, and the weeks of preparation that followed, leading up to the most glorious time of the year.
“First Snowfall of the Year”, an excerpt from ‘Lanark County Calendar: Four Seasons on the Third Line” ISBN 978-0-9877026-30
photos of James Brothers Hardware and Shaws of Perth courtesy of ‘Perth Remembered‘