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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Back to the grind

BY Sonny Orr Jan 13, 2023

Another year is out of the way, with all the holiday games, feasts and activities that filled the week after the big giveaway day. It was a good week, with the community and, lest we forget, those who were not able to be with loved ones around this special time. Yes, life goes on, full swing and roaring to go. And twenty-twenty-three already looks promising.

For many of us, our breaks were stretched a bit due to the holidays falling on weekends. We could welcome the indoor times that are warm and familiar to the heart and soul, simply because it’s darn cold and wintery out there. Best to watch the world go by from the comfort of your living room rather than face the harsh winds of January.

Sometime back in the last century, the practice of community togetherness was a great way to celebrate the mid-winter blahs with feasting and dancing, usually until the wee hours of the morning. Since candy was still considered a delicacy, the famous candy drop from any tall building made the day as all generations scrambled for the treasures that made dentists rich a few months later. The lucky ones got either an apple or orange which was just as revered as the Juju licorice bean. After the mayhem of finding the last of the candy drop, the crowd would move on to the next donors, usually some organization with two-story building.

Later, as Christmas took on the holy viewpoint, it was off to church in your finest clothes and shiniest slicked-back hair. Yes, the Fonzie look was popular back then and tight-fitting jeans and a black leather jacket elevated you to the pinnacle of coolness. 

Of course, everyone smoked tobacco back then. It was considered a sign of maturity and not an addiction, as that word was unknown to us. So, a lot of smoking went on during community events and the lucky ones got to claim a pack of cigarettes left on the hosts’ table for your pleasure. 

I didn’t see much in terms of anyone getting drunk or any real rowdiness, except perhaps the local guy who couldn’t build up the courage to dance without a shot of Canadian Club from a discreet mickey.

Family events were simple. Everyone got together and ate a lot of great cooking and smoked a lot of Macdonald tobacco, hand rolled as was the custom. Ready-made cigarettes came later, surprising people with a menthol-flavoured option for the ladies. 

Alas, as the world grew more knowledgeable, tobacco became the big corporate sin. Today, instead of a manly figure riding a horse while puffing away and ready to rope a helpless heifer, symbols of death and disease now try to deter the addicted and the experimenters.

But those days are past and today we look at the holidays as time for ourselves. Last year, it was about trying to avoid everyone. This year, it’s back to hugging and kissing and laughing and giggling without a worry in the world, apart from the usual holiday shenanigans to spice things up. 

Yep, the world is seemingly back to normal. Except for the occasional eruption into war or financial destruction, it’s back to openly bashing everyone and seeding the world with worries and woes and a great gnashing of teeth. 

But that’s drama and another story to unfold. Get back to the grind everyone!

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Sonny Orr is Cree from Chisasibi, and has been a columnist for the Nation for over 20 years. He regularly pens Rez Notes from the cozy social club in Whapmagoostui where he resides.