Christmas gifts come in various ways, shapes andforms. They can be wrapped in pretty paper, tied with shiny ribbon or trimmed with festive bows. Not all presents need to packaged and presented in the traditional way though. This year the staff members here at Brennan School took a different approach to presenting gifts to our students.
On the first Saturday of December we all boarded our bus clutching non-perishable food items, which our families generously provided, and headed for Portage.
Fort la Reine Museum
Our first stop was Fort la Reine Museum where the curator, Tracey Turner works hard to organize special events for people to enjoy at the museum throughout year, not merely during the regular summer hours.
For this particular Saturday, “A Dickens Christmas” was on the agenda. Volunteers were on hand in period costumes to entertain museum guests with music, drama and of course a bit of history. The main building was festively decorated and just after we arrived the first presentation began: a duo entertained us with Christmas music. This was followed by wonderful piece of drama – an excerpt from Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. I was impressed with how effortlessly the actors switched roles by simply donning a hat, vest or other costume. I especially enjoyed this production as I knew several of the performers: retired teacher Fran Myles, current teacher at Airport colony and I believe school trustee, Preston Meier.
As a finale to the entertainment a couple of ladies played several songs on plate bells. They started with seemingly simple tunes and progressed to more complicated ones such as “Joyful, Joyful we Adore Thee.” For that particular number, the bells moved so swiftly from the performers’ hands to the table and back again, as they played different notes, there were a few instances when the bells almost flew of the table!
After the performance, we divided into smaller groups to visit other parts of the museum. My group visited the general store first. There people could purchase various types of sweets. As well, a local artist had a craft table set up where she taught us how to paint snowman on tree cookies. These could be used as gift tags, decoration or pendant.
Attendees also had the opportunity to take their picture with Father Christmas and see and/or pet animals – llamas, bunnies, donkeys and more. Hot chocolate was provided for all who desired it and most of us did!
To end our visit at the museum, we all piled onto a horse drawn wagon and enjoyed a ride around the fort while joyfully singing Christmas carols.
Since we had time between our museum visit and our next event, we made a stop at our local library. We all enjoyed cozying up with some good books as we warmed up from our wagon ride.
CP Holiday Train
Each year the CP Holiday train makes its way across our frozen land and this year it passed through Portage on the day we were there! Typically, wherever they stop, that community has an opportunity to do some sort of fundraiser. Here in Portage, people were encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for Salvation Army’s annual Christmas hamper drive.
The train was to arrive in Portage around 4:00, so we bundled up and made our way to the BDO Centre. Our students excitedly grabbed their packages and headed to the Salvation Army truck to make their donations. As to be expected, the train was late, so it got rather chilly waiting out near the tracks. We ended up going back to the bus until we heard that welcome train whistle echoing through the frigid air. Once again we braved the cold to see that festive sight! Train cars upon train cars were lit up in colourful lights displaying Christmassy pictures, shapes and greetings. A concert was also offered; however, we didn’t stay for that as we felt it was not really geared for children.
Indeed, as the Brennan School students can vouch, Christmas gifts can be presented non-traditionally - in the form of an exciting December field trip!