Right in the centre - Memories and going forward


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

The older I get, obviously the more memories I gather unto my aging brain. The first Christmases that comes to mind seem to blend together. Always a tree cut out in the bush and placed in the house bay window. I remember the red ball placed near the top of the tree, the ball bought by my uncle for my brothers in early WWll to cheer them up as Dad was not home that Christmas. No electric lights either on the tree or in the house, as we didn’t get electricity until 1954 when I was six years old. I remember presents under the tree in plain green or red tissue. Usually there was a toy or two. One Christmas, my older brother played Santa Claus at the local Christmas concert and I didn’t even catch on. I was always naive and sometimes still am. When I was about eight or nine, my brother bought me a matchbox bulldozer and I still have it over 65 years later. Its poor little rubber tracks are pretty much evaporated away.

My uncle and aunt would come out from Winnipeg to the farm when weather conditions allowed. I think they had a 1952 car, perhaps a Chevy. In 1957, they had a two-tone salmon coloured Chevy four door. That was a modern car and seemed such a wonderful machine. As a side note, the late 1950s was a great era for cars. My Dad traded in a 1951 International half-ton for a shiny new 1958 red and white IHC. Marvellous little truck for its day.

I remember Christmas concerts and plays and they always ended with a Nativity Scene. Too bad that we can’t seem to do that today, as it might offend somebody. In my opinion, if people are offended by “faith” plays and dramas, they need to get a life. We need to lift up the peaceful side of all faiths and expose and decry the violent sides. I am mainly talking about Christian, Muslim, Jewish and First Nations faiths and beliefs. 

The big problem today is that we have allowed our country to be so divided that we can’t embrace and enjoy the peace side of each others faiths. Instead it seems, we have to take a stand, divide into factions and declare our hatred for other groups.

We are divided by politicians, media, activists and academics into smaller and smaller groups. The hatred, the violence and false statements are enough to make any caring person distraught.

It’s a long way from the local Christmas concert of the 1950s to the goofy world we live in today. I said I was naive and I guess back in the 1950s, I was quite naive. But I, and my family, knew enough to care about our families and neighbours. Sure, there were some class distinctions and there was some suspicion between the local Protestant church people and the Roman Catholics. That said, it was a small community that cared about each other and looked after each other.

And I say this openly, back then and today we have free choice to express our faith, or lack of it as we see fit. I have openly expressed my faith in this column many times over the past years and at the same time I don’t force my views on anybody. I may have at one time and I likely did on my sons, but I have apologized to them for that.

I believe in Christmas and in Jesus Christ who came as the Christmas babe, grew up as man and then was put to death on a cross. He died that we might be saved. I believe in all the Christian faith teaches about Jesus. I encourage everyone to consider that as well, but we are made with a free will so it is up to you to decide.

I also believe that the Christian church, as has all faith groups, made some horrible decisions. It would take pages to list the “sins” of the Christian church but I declare here and now that I don’t believe that Jesus wanted any of those sins to happen that were committed in his name. I think he cried over every one of them.

God is love and if love isn’t happening, then I don’t think God is backing it.

I also believe in prayer and have prayed for dozens, if not hundreds of people. I plan to continue to do so, but as some of you know, my wife and I, but especially my wife, would appreciate your prayers. We are grateful for all our medical people, but they can only do so much. Prayer is needed for sure.

May you and yours have a blessed Christmas and a very joy-filled New Year.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being the view of the Banner & Press staff.