Bovens mark birthdays before Christmas holidays - Christmas 2018
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
For the Boven family of Blyth, Christmas means a lot of house-cleaning and entertaining (depending on who you ask) and the seemingly unattainable dream of holiday pond hockey.
Casey Boven of CMB Construction, his wife Melissa, who recently participated in the Victim Services Dancing with the Stars, and their children Hannah and Leah spend most of the year looking forward to the holidays. However, with a few December birthdays in the family, they always make sure they don’t get started too early when it comes to Christmas.
Leah’s birthday is on Dec. 3 and Casey’s is on Dec. 12, so the family always makes an effort to keep the Christmas decorations in the garage or the basement until those milestones have been celebrated.
Once Leah and Casey have both officially taken another trip around the sun, the holiday decorations come out and the family gets its house ready for Christmas.
Putting the tree up and decorating it is always a full family affair. For years, the Bovens would cut down their own tree and haul it into the house together, although in recent years they have headed south and bought their Christmas tree from the Londesborough and District Lions Club.
After years of collecting ornaments, Casey and Melissa say that every ornament they have goes on the tree at Christmas time. With all of that decorating, it can be hard to see some of the tree’s green at times when it’s fully loaded with ornaments.
A good deal of those ornaments come from Casey’s mother, who, for years, has gifted her grandchildren handmade, hand-painted ceramic ornaments at Christmas time. Last year, for example, all of the family’s children were gifted penguin ornaments, handcrafted and personalized.
The holidays at the Boven house can be a bit of a marathon, according to Melissa, which is where Leah’s feeling that she’s constantly cleaning may originate.
Whether they’re attending the homes of friends or family or bringing loved ones to their home, the house has to be ready for guests. So, every time there are visitors, the house needs to be in tip-top shape. So, while Melissa and Casey may look forward to the visiting, Leah dreads the cleaning aspect of the process, though the work is spread out evenly amongst the family members.
This year, for example, the Bovens will be celebrating six times over four straight days. There will be two Christmases on Dec. 22, a Christmas and a birthday on Dec. 23, followed by Christmas celebrations on both Dec. 24 and Dec. 25.
With a tight schedule like that, the family can feel busy, but they always make time for one another and ensure that they spend lots of time together over the holidays.
One tradition that, thanks to Mother Nature has yet to really get off the ground, has been pond hockey at Christmas.
Living on Gypsy Lane, the Bovens back onto a small creek shared by the landowners along that stretch of road. A beautiful, uniquely Canadian setting, Casey thinks it would be perfect for some pond hockey around Christmas, although it’s never quite cold enough for the family to lace up the skates.
They have played hockey there once, but there have been some years when it hasn’t even frozen over at all.
The year that they were able to play on the pond, Casey said, that blessing was discovered by accident. The children were tobogganing down the hill and one ended up catching a bit too much speed and ended up on the pond and, much to everyone’s surprise, the pond had frozen over.
Casey went out and tested the strength and thickness of the ice and it was, indeed, cold enough for some hockey. The family now has a framed picture in their house of the impromptu game that took place that winter.
With a mild forecast for the next week or so, this may be another pond hockey-less year, but you can bet the fingers are crossed at the Boven house for some low temperatures.
Casey grew up in a Dutch household and always celebrated Christmas in the traditional European fashion of opening his gifts on Christmas Eve, punctuated by a simple meal of tea and sandwiches with family. It was only since he married Melissa that the family began celebrating on Christmas Day, which is when Santa brings the gifts. Leah says she’s always impressed that Santa’s gifts tend to have higher price tags than those that come from her family, however Casey is sure that’s because they’re built in his workshop, so there’s lower overhead than for those of us who have to buy gifts at a store.