It’s that time of the year again. Halloween decorations have long been put away. The snow has replaced the rains and the lights have come on and the ornaments dusted off. I asked five people about their favourites for the holiday season. Edna Neeposh has maybe one of the busiest jobs in the Cree Nation and currently is Executive Assistant to Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come. Gordon Neacappo, one of the coolest guys I knew growing up, can be heard giving the news and putting on the tunes on Chisasibi’s radio station. Ben Masty is the host of CBC North’s Maamuitaau, a weekly TV show devoted to the Cree of James Bay. Phoebe Sutherland, with her husband Warren, own the Sweetgrass Aboriginal Bistro offering Native cuisine with their twist to the palates of those who make the trek to Ottawa’s Byward Market. And finally, if you need help with your educational direction Stella Lameboy is for you. She works for the Cree School Board in Wemindji and has her own poster!
Favourite food for the holidays
Edna Neeposh: I enjoy cooking traditional food during the holidays… Of course, turkey & stuffing with all the trimmings and fruitcake I love!
Gordon Neacappo: Turkey with the works, dessert
Ben Masty: Every Christmas, Grandpa Masty invites the entire family for a traditional feast. It usually involves bear meat. So that’s my favourite. Chisaayak ooditchshe!
Phoebe Sutherland: With my family: Good old turkey dinner, mash, stuffing…
With my in-laws: curry goat with rice and peas!!
Stella Lameboy: Turkey & gravy with all the trimmings, and candy canes, lots and lots of them, all thru the holidays.
Favourite holiday tradition/memory
Edna: My first memory is the year I received candies and an orange in a flour bag. I was told Santa brought that bag. Come New Year’s Eve, we were told to go outside because the adults were sending Santa on his merry old way until next year with a bang. The men were shooting at the moon and they couldn’t believe that we couldn’t see Santa and his reindeer like they could!
Gordon: Christmas ornaments & decorations and, of course, the night(s) before Christmas.
Ben: The family gatherings on Christmas Eve.
Camping out for the night in the living room in front of the Christmas tree with the Christmas lights left lit.
Phoebe: The anticipation of opening presents!! Also, our entire Iserhoff Family would do a Xmas exchange. We would have a feast at my grandparents’ small house where we would sit on the floor to eat and exchange them. Fun times!
Stella: Kids hanging their stockings, with photo shoot in evening before bedtime!
Edna: Honestly, I don’t watch TV!!
Gordon: Any Xmas special I get to watch (the whole show) without missing any parts of it to the end.
Ben: When I was a young lad, I very much enjoyed “Alvin & the Chipmunks’ Christmas Special” and “Charlie Brown’s Christmas”
Phoebe: Charlie Brown’s Christmas
Stella: Tie between “A Christmas Story” and “Scrooge” (with that Alastair guy in b/w).
Toy you were most excited to get as a kid
Edna: When I was a child, Christmas gifts were not as extravagant as they are today, and I was always excited to receive board games, especially “Snakes and Ladders”! I still like to play, in case anyone is interested in a challenge.
Gordon: Any toy I guess, don’t remember. Didn’t get much at my time.
Ben: When Nintendo came out, that’s all I wanted. I remember opening the present and gave the thing a huge bear hug – I think I was close to tears. I still remember the “fresh-out-of-the-box” smell while setting it up.
Phoebe: This huge doll that was half my size!
Stella: A set of Barbies with a camper and boat! When I was about 10 I got my first Sony Walkman. It was so awesome!
Edna: Silent Night and Little Drummer Boy have always been my favourites. I could never choose between the two.
Gordon: Silent Night (classic of course)
Ben: O Christmas Tree
For a giggle, South Park’s Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel
Phoebe: Silent Night
Stella: Little Drummer Boy – in Cree.