Christmas has changed a lot in recent years for Blyth's Brink family
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Christmas has been a moving target for the Brink family of Blyth in recent years, as so much has changed and they’ve added to their ranks with two young children.
Ryan, the technical director at the Blyth Festival, and his wife Jalyssa moved to Blyth in October of 2020, shortly after having Aleida, their first child. They have since added Elijah to their family earlier this year.
In an interview with The Citizen, Jalyssa said that Aleida has been having a fantastic holiday season, finally reaching the age when she can truly appreciate all that Christmas has to offer. Whether it’s the lights or all the snow, Jalyssa says that Aleida has been having the time of her life this winter and it’s all been building to Christmas. She even has a whole host of favourite ornaments that adorn the family’s tree.
She has a lot to choose from as well. Jalyssa and Ryan travelled extensively during their courtship and in the early days of their marriage. On a one-year trip after getting married, they visited over 30 countries and, while they were on the road, they aimed to bring home a Christmas ornament from each one. As a result, their Christmas tree has a very unique and worldly look that Aleida has certainly taken to.
Ryan says the tree really tells the story of their family. In addition to the travel-related ornaments, there are others that celebrate their engagement, wedding and the birth of their two children, complete with ultrasound images of the children and even keys from some of their old apartments, lace from a grandmother’s dress and hand-painted ornaments from their nieces and nephews.
They’ve also recently added custom-made stockings for each member of the family. Jennifer Triemstra-Johnston of Pick-a-Posie completed Elijah’s just in time for Christmas.
During that year on the road, Jalyssa and Ryan spent Christmas in Malaysia.
“We went to Malacca because we were told it had a ‘Western’ Christmas with fake snow, etc. We were a tad homesick, so we went to check it out, but it was a total bust,” Ryan said in an e-mail to The Citizen. “We ended up in Kuala Lumpur. We spent Christmas Day taking it easy. We called our families, ate terrible pizza. We bought a pineapple for a Christmas tree and managed to find a Christmas ornament to hang on it. Not traditional, but memorable - also it was the first time we’ve ever eaten our Christmas tree. We then went on to ring in the new year in Singapore. It poured rain while we watched amazing fireworks.”
Ryan grew up in Whitechurch, while Jalyssa grew up on a farm near New Hamburg. They moved to Huron County in late 2020, returning to his home community, something Ryan never saw in his future, but the time and opportunity were right and they’ve since fallen in love with Blyth.
Jalyssa admits that she wasn’t sold on the idea either, but pledged to have an open mind. When they saw what is now their house for the first time, the roles reversed. Jalyssa fell in love with the house, while it was Ryan who needed a little convincing.
They were successful in buying the house, right when prices were beginning to surge and demand along with it, and they have all settled into what is now their home.
The Brinks have found quite a community in their part of the village, living near celebrated playwright Duncan McGregor and his wife Lynda, one of the busiest volunteers in the village, as well as Cat O’Donnell of The Wonky Frog and her husband Scott Ramsay, an artist.
Upon moving into their house, the Brinks said they immediately felt at home and part of the community. Soon after moving in, the village experienced a power outage and the McGregors, O’Donnell and Ramsay were quick to offer any help or provisions that the Brinks may have needed, which Jalyssa said felt very warm and caring.
Ryan said he and his family, when he was young, would always attend church over the holidays as part of their tradition and Jalyssa says it was the same for her in New Hamburg.
Now, with their own children, Jalyssa and Ryan are really working to slow things down around Christmas and pass on the tradition of family and spending time together to their children. They both say their holidays look much different now with their own children, but that it’s really all about family for them.
As for decorating, they have been chipping away at lighting for the exterior of their home. Jalyssa said she wants to begin stringing lights in the backyard of their home, which can be seen from both the village’s main street and the Blyth Greenway Trail, which is part of the Goderich-to-Guelph Rail Trail.
If they can add a component to that aspect of their Christmas decorating every year, Jalyssa said, she would be very happy, as would the children. And she has the perfect husband to make it happen.
With Ryan’s technical skills, she says, he can make all kinds of light and sound magic happen, so stay tuned - hopefully - for something magical to one day materialize at the Brink home.
A few years ago, in 2019, they also added to their family. They were on their way to Jalyssa’s sister’s house for Christmas dinner on Christmas Day and two orange kittens ran under their car while they were stopped at a stop sign.
Seven months pregnant at the time and in love with cats, Jalyssa got out of the car and convinced Ryan to bring them home with them. She said they were friendly, but didn’t have collars, so it was clear they had been dumped there and were lost and scared.
While Ryan is allergic to cats, he has welcomed them with open arms. They’re named Angelica and Eliza after the Schuyler sisters from the well-known musical Hamilton.