Christmas 2014: Christmas and family for the Bishops
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Jacquie Bishop, the Chair of the 2017 International Plowing Match committee, shared her Christmas story with Shawn Loughlin, editor of The Citizen, for the 2014 Christmas special.
When it’s Christmas time at the Bishop house, Jacquie says, it’s time to take a pause and spend time with one another; and the traditions run deep in the family around the holidays.
It all starts with Christmas dinner, says Chair of the 2017 International Plowing Match committee (an event that will be held in Walton), and in a predictably unpredictable way, with a menu that isn’t often seen in many homes at Christmas time.
Bishop says everyone contributes their two cents to the annual holiday menu, including her husband Kevin and their three children, Keisha, Kayla and Kabrina.
Very often, Jacquie says, the family forgoes the traditional turkey or ham and goes with fish, not necessarily a Christmas staple in Canada. The family, however, enjoys the variety, Jacquie says.
When it comes to cooking, she says, everyone chips in and it becomes a real bonding experience for all family members involved, although Jacquie says that Kevin would likely place last on the participation scale.
Jacquie says her family is, and has always been, very musical, so it’s no surprise that the air is full of musical Christmas cheer every year around the holidays.
When she was growing up, Jacquie’s family lived in a small house, and she says she marvelled at how her mother was able to prepare a large turkey dinner for a large family in such a small home.
In the years since, family events have expanded, which means Christmas events are often held at local community halls, like Belgrave, where there is a little more space for family members to perform their talents for the rest of the family. Having one of the original Ranch Boys in her family indicates how important music is to the family.
“Everyone would pick up a guitar or whatever instrument they played and there would always be music,” Jacquie said. She played the piano, but insists that she’s out of practice these days and lets the younger members of the family take over for her.
In fact, Jacquie and Kevin’s three children have often made a Christmas tradition of travelling throughout Huron County around the holidays and performing music for local service groups or at nursing homes.
All three girls are musical, so they would play music for audiences, but they are also very accomplished step-dancers, so it was not uncommon for them to mix in a step-dancing performance or two around the holidays.
Another one of the Bishop family’s traditions, Jacquie says, is plain to see when looking at the presents under the tree every year. While the odd present will be wrapped with nice, Christmas paper, she often uses newspaper (frequently The Citizen, apparently) to wrap her presents.
One time-honoured tradition in the family, Jacquie says, has just recently been discontinued, which was cutting down a Christmas tree from the bush on the farm’s property.
She remembers trekking out to the back of the family’s property as a little girl, the property on which her family still lives, with her siblings and her father and cutting down the family’s Christmas tree for the year.
“It was never the most beautiful, full tree, but it was what we had on the property,” Jacquie said.
That tradition has died out because there aren’t any more evergreen trees on the property, but not before one last touching family moment.
For his final Christmas, Jacquie’s father wasn’t able to make the trip back to the bush himself, but with the home’s large west-facing windows, he was able to watch from home as Kevin and the girls went out to the bush and cut down a tree for Christmas.
That was a moment, Jacquie said, that was an emotional one for her, that her father was there to experience that special holiday with her family.
Another Christmas tradition that has been passed on from generation to generation has been from Jacquie’s mother to her grandchildren.
Over the years, Jacquie says she has met a number of students of her mother, a kindergarten teacher in her time. They have told Jacquie about receiving a special baked good present every Christmas from her and how that is a memory that has always stayed with them even decades later.
In keeping with that tradition, Kabrina, who has been working with local schools, prepared a Christmas treat for every student in her class last Christmas.
Jacquie says she remembers deciding what she and Kabrina should make that year and thinking what a lovely passing of a tradition it was.