Falconers remember those they've lost over holidays - Christmas 2018
Christmas is a time for remembrance and lots of treats for the Falconer family in Blyth.
Newly-installed Blyth Councillor and retired long-time firefighter Kevin Falconer and his wife Lorie, a member of the Huron County Accessibility Advisory Committee, always host the family Christmas at their Blyth home and welcome the growing crowd that makes the trip every year.
Lorie has been baking since she was a young girl and makes a point of creating plenty of tasty treats around the holidays. As soon as they were old enough, daughters Jackie and Corine helped out when they could. Now that they no longer live at home, the family sets a weekend aside and makes sure everyone is able to make it home to get the baking done ahead of Christmas.
That tradition, Lorie says, has been going for generations and every Christmas she goes back to a collection of recipes from parents and grandparents and old community and church cookbooks to ensure there is plenty to eat over the holidays.
And while there are traditional standards that always make an appearance every year, Lorie said that she and the girls always make an effort to add a new dish every Christmas.
Her offerings have been so good over the years that Lorie was considering opening a chocolate store for a time, but eventually opted against it.
Kevin grew up in Whitechurch, as did Lorie, but then Kevin spent much of his childhood in Toronto before returning to Whitechurch in his late teens.
Even when he was in Toronto, Kevin and his family made their way back to Whitechurch every Christmas to spend the holidays with his grandparents.
He grew up on what used to be the home of Edgar’s Feed and Seed. Now a popular destination for local families looking for Christmas trees, it was Kevin’s father who originally planted many of those trees, so the Falconers always make a point to get to Edgar’s and buy their tree for the year.
Those Christmas dinners back in Whitechurch, Kevin said, were always very large affairs. Full of family, extended family and neighbours, the dinners brought together many from the community for a special meal during the holidays.
There weren’t many gifts in those days, Kevin said, but he remembers one Christmas when he received a toy plane under the tree that he’s positive was taller than he was.
On the Falconers’ Christmas tree you’ll find memory balls peppered throughout the tree, honouring and remembering friends and family members who have passed away over the years.
This is again a tradition that has been passed down from years ago. The clear ornaments hold pictures of those who have passed away and both Kevin and Lorie say it has been the perfect way to remember those who are no longer with them around the holidays.
When they were first married and living in an apartment in Blyth, ornaments, however, weren’t their top priority.
Lorie said that for their first Christmas together, they got their tree, but only had a small amount of money with which to decorate it. They bought plenty of bright flashing lights to make it pop, but only had enough money to buy one ornament.
So, for their first Christmas together, they had bright, flashing lights and one ornament marking their first Christmas together. Their ornament selection has grown substantially since then.
With both sets of parents so close in those early days, Kevin and Lorie remember attending two Christmas dinners every Christmas Day.
The food was excellent, she said, but having just a short walk in between houses, eating enough food to make both families happy left them both feeling pretty full by the end of the night.
When Kevin and Lorie had children, the aforementioned Corine and Jackie, as well as son Orie, and they were now the ones buying the presents, they learned quickly to avoid anything with an extensive build time or a large amount of detail.
Kevin says he distinctly remembers one Christmas when he had to built a kitchen set for one of the girls. With dozens of parts and nearly 150 decals, he said he was up past 3 a.m. making the set and that was the end of overly complicated gifts for their children.
With everyone home, in addition to Lorie’s baked treats, there are always ice cream sundaes that come from a very specific place. The family always bids on litres of ice cream during the CKNX Christmas auction on the radio.
This year, with Kevin being sworn in as councillor the night of the auction, the couple’s three children were all monitoring the Horton’s Dairy ice cream from wherever they were in the province.
This year it went smoothly, Kevin said, but there have been years when it hasn’t. After missing out on the auction ice cream one year, Kevin went to Horton’s and bought raspberry ice cream. It didn’t take long for the family to discover that the raspberry ice cream, while good on its own, didn’t go with anything and 11 litres of ice cream was a lot to eat in the coming weeks.
Gift buying has died down slightly in recent years. With grandchildren in the picture, the focus has now shifted to buying them presents and everyone is just fine with that.