Thomas mines memories of Christmases with late husband Kellington
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Christmas this year will be quiet for Marguerite Thomas of Brussels after losing her husband Bob Kellington earlier this year, but that’s not to say that the two didn’t make plenty of memories together.
Bob was this year’s Citizen of the Year Award winner for Brussels and its surrounding communities. He passed away in late May and was honoured posthumously with the award last month.
Bob and Marguerite met in 2014 after they were both widowed. He was doing some work around Marguerite’s house when Marguerite said she noticed a gleam in Bob’s eyes and felt one in her own as well. They would soon begin dating and would eventually marry.
Bob and Marguerite would spend several Christmases together before Bob’s untimely passing, making memories that Marguerite says will last a lifetime.
“My Christmas song was, ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’. Sadly, it is ‘I’ll Have a Blue Christmas Without You’,” Marguerite said of this year’s holidays in an e-mail to The Citizen.
Bob and Marguerite were both well accepted and loved by the family of each other and would spend the holidays together, depending on the year.
Marguerite said she and Bob spent several Christmases with her daughter and her family in Oshawa for what was a memorable holiday. In 2018, Bob and Marguerite hosted Bob’s daughter, son-in-law and grandson for the holidays.
In 2019, Marguerite said she and Bob gave Bob’s grandson a trove of board games, many of which were purchased at the Brussels 5R’s. She said that was a gift that aged well with the coming COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown control measures.
As for Marguerite’s own childhood, she grew up in Formosa with her family owning Oberle’s Store from 1940, with Marguerite’s brother taking it over until just five years ago.
Holidays were busy for the family, she said, with so much work needing to be done at the store, so the lead-up to Christmas was never very exciting.
What did make the holidays special, she said, was when she and her family would go to her grandparents’ house on Christmas Day. She said it was a real Christmas on the farm with a full feast prepared for lunch and a long day with family to follow.
Marguerite said she can still smell the aromas of her grandmother’s cooking at Christmas and special spices she used in her dressing and gravy.
She said her grandparents had a back kitchen at their home, part of a very traditional farm home in those days, and it wasn’t heated, so going there when the cooking was happening was always a special feeling for Marguerite.
The family would enjoy the feast and once everyone was done, the children would run off to play together while the men would play cards for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening, she said.
While the giving of gifts was never the focal point of Marguerite’s Christmas celebrations as a child, there is one year she remembers wanting a Meccano set, but the budding engineer got a doll instead. With a laugh, Marguerite says her life could have been different if she would have gotten that Meccano set.
Marguerite’s Christmases with Bob were amazing, she said, as they both kept up their involvement in the community over the holidays.
The couple founded the Nativity scene event at Brussels-area churches, welcoming anyone and everyone to provide their Nativity scenes for a collection of dozens for all to enjoy. It would fill one of the area churches with dozens and dozens of unique Nativity sets. To get the ball rolling, Marguerite and Bob bought many of the Nativity sets themselves and were then aided by the community to make the event what it was. It would run for several years, ending, at least for the time being, with Bob’s passing.
Last Christmas was a special one for Bob and Marguerite. They hosted open houses for both the Brussels United Church Choir and for the Brussels Lions Club (as Bob was set to take over presidency of the club) and those were special celebrations, Marguerite said.
Not knowing that it would be Bob’s last Christmas, Marguerite said it was a great season to enjoy.
“Bob owned a lot of Christmas decorations and truly loved the season,” Marguerite said of him. “He was a man who loved his sweets and I loved making them. Christmas does not have the same joy without him, but I love having the memories of how happy he was at Christmas and how he just enjoyed everything and everyone. I will always be grateful for the joy and the journey we shared.”