Winter provides breath of fresh air for Lee, Hodgson
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Around the Lee/Hodgson household, Christmas is all about family and friends, with the occasional reindeer hunt sprinkled in for variety.
Brett Lee, the son of Chris and Judy Lee, and his wife Melody Hodgson together own the Walton Raceway and they now live in the generations-old farmhouse in which Brett grew up. They live there with their daughter Harper and Brett’s son Caden.
When the holidays roll around, they look forward to time with family and friends, like most people at Christmas, but they also cherish quiet time together, whether it’s outdoors or in the house, they like to unplug and recharge their batteries over the holidays.
Due to the nature of the motocross business, the family is run off its feet for most of the spring, summer and fall, with no breaks because their events are almost always held on weekends. So, the Christmas season, and really much of winter, represents a time of rest and relaxation for the family before working non-stop all over again for the upcoming spring, summer and fall seasons.
Brett says he feels fortunate to live in a community with such readily-available natural beauty. To be able to go out as a family and hike in the bush, go tobogganing or play hockey outside in the winter is really what he looks forward to over the holiday break.
The family traditionally spends Christmas Eve with Brett’s family, while Mel’s family still lives near Thunder Bay, making spending Christmases together a bit impractical.
Mel grew up in Simcoe, Ontario, celebrating Christmas in a big way with her entire extended family coming to her house every year. There would be between 25 and 30 people at the house every year around Christmas and Mel says she looks back on those times fondly, even if they were busy, crowded and a bit chaotic.
Her mother would always do the cooking, Mel said, spending most of the day in the kitchen. She and the rest of her family, however, wouldn’t be far, as so much of the holidays revolved around eating.
She said there would always be snacks around beginning first thing in the morning, all leading up to a massive, traditional Christmas feast with turkey, potatoes, stuffing and all the trimmings.
Things would change when her parents divorced and her family moved to northern Ontario. She would spend time with both sides of her family around the holidays, but those big celebrations with dozens of people just didn’t happen any longer.
One tradition that stayed alive to the point that Mel has been brought it to Brett and their children is the opening of one gift on Christmas Eve, which was always a new set of pajamas and a book to read to help the children get to sleep ahead of Christmas morning.
Brett’s childhood Christmases were just as chaotic as Mel’s, but in a different way. He says he, his brother and his cousins, many of whom were all very close in age, would spend all Christmas playing games and competing against one another. Growing up in a motocross household, there were always competitions, races, tests of strength and lots and lots of hockey, all of which were always in good fun.
At the home in which he and his family now live, Brett said he and his cousins would play hockey from one end of the kitchen to the other, all while his mother was trying to cook Christmas dinner for the group. It’s a wonder his mother didn’t kill them, he said.
As he grew slightly older, Brett began getting together with a group of friends from the Walton area who still get together over the holidays to this day, taking a trip together, though he was unable to make it this year.
As Brett and Mel have come together and now have a family of their own, they’ve both brought traditions from their own childhoods to the holidays. Mel has brought pajamas and books and Brett has worked to keep that rowdy nature with his children and others who come over throughout the holidays. Again, all in good fun.
One Christmas that stands out is the year Brett and Mel bought Caden a paintball gun. It was several years ago now, but video exists, immortalizing the moment for all eternity.
Caden had been gifted a paintball gun and he wanted to try it out, so Brett retired to the shed and told his son to be ready to hunt in the next few minutes. Sure enough, Brett soon emerged with a red nose, some sticks for antlers and all the mannerisms of a reindeer.
As he galloped around the yard, Caden unloaded on his father, who soon realized just how much paintballs can actually hurt and ran as fast as he could back to the shed. Watching the video back, however, Brett said that how quickly he was moving in his head didn’t quite translate to the video and real life as his son caught him a few more times before it was all said and done.
For this year’s holidays, the family is looking forward to spending time together and unwinding after what was a busy 2019. Those times together, whether it’s at the house or outside in Huron County nature, are some of the most important times for the family when they truly have the opportunity to connect with one another.