By Don Jackson, November 2011
Former host of one of Canada's most popular radio shows spanning three decades.
Author, broadcaster, storyteller.

Just this side of tall pines and nestled in deep snow, you might remember a winter poem by Robert Frost or imagine the scene the inspiration for a painting by Thomas Kinkaide. The photograph was taken by my good friend, Danny Allaire, and continues to inspire me no matter how many times I see it. I can almost hear the silence of this placid scene.

No matter the size of one's home, it is a haven that provides protection from the harsh environment. Looking at the photograph, I imagine an old dog sleeping in front of a blazing hearth and the family comfortable in their chairs before the fire. It is a scene I tried to portray during my nighttime radio program, 'Lovers and Other Strangers', every year at this time.

According to the Reader's Digest collection, 'The Literature of Christmas', our ancestors hung holly on the door at this time of year. Not only did it keep the house safe from evil spirits, but it also gave protection from lightning.

I will never forget the first winter with our schnoodle puppy, Brownie. It was the night of the first snowfall of the season and she barked at the door to be let out. A snowflake landed on her small nose and she retreated back into the house not knowing what to make of this thing that was cold and wet one moment and melted the next. And then the sound of thunder rumbled in the snowy sky overhead. That did it; the decision was made for her. We would have to coax her out of the house later before bed. I remember that we stood watching her muzzle in the snow-covered ground as she tried to figure out what it was that had changed her world. She was like a young child discovering the pleasures of snow.

If snow has yet to paint your world white, be patient. Those winds coming in from the north will soon be ferrying clouds filled with snow, and a whole new generation of puppies and children will venture out to experience winter for the first time.

My neighbors had their Christmas lights up shortly after Remembrance Day. I've always fancied the more subtle displays. Some homes seem to resemble a carnival midway lit by garish neon lights that scream for attention. I prefer a more subdued outward celebration of the season. Even those houses that have no lights strung up along their eaves, the snow will add its own magic in time. That is perhaps the best decoration.

Again, consider the simple home in the background photograph all dressed up for the season.

Don Jackson, November 2011

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