Christmas story

Erin and the kids are having a much-deserved Yule Nap. Just enough time to tell you one of my favourite Christmas stories.

I was probably 11 or 12. Young enough to play in the snow but old enough to prefer being lazy.

A couple of days after Christmas, my brother and I were in the basement doing nothing. We watched bad TV while outside it was a beautiful winter day. It seemed a good way to spend the rest of the break.

My dad came downstairs. He had obviously just come in from outside because he had on his boots, brown coat and cap.

"Get your coats on, you two."

Usually when dad invited us outside it was to do farm work. Even in the winter, there was always something to be done. We declined.

"Get your coats on," he repeated, sounding serious. We would never have actually not gone, but it was in our contract as pre-teens to be surly about such requests.

We got all of our winter stuff on, but instead of heading out into the boiler room (we lived on a greenhouse farm), Dad started walking across the road toward Henry Janzen's farm.

Dad and Henry had a great farmer relationship. They often shared work and equipment. Coffee too.

We didn't stop at Henry's house. We didn't even head to the barn. Dad kept walking past the goose pond and the few glass greenhouses to the snow-covered field. I got curious.

"What are we-"

"Shht", was all he said. We kept walking.

A couple of minutes later, Dad whispered to us to stay exactly where we were. Still confused, but absolutely riveted, we obeyed.

Dad crept his way through the snow. Stubble and fodder from last year's corn peaked out of the white.

Dad walked about 15 meters further in a semi-circle, then stopped. He turned to face us, but looked at the pile of snow between us.

Suddenly, he pounced. Fresh, powdery snow went flying. I couldn't tell exactly what was happening for a few seconds.

Dad got up with a cotton tail rabbit in his arms. He had one hand wrapped tightly around its ears, the other held its thrashing hind legs still. Dad clutched it tightly against him, as if assuring it there was no escape, but no harm. The rabbit quieted down and looked at us with wide eyes.

It was like everything I'd ever known about my dad was wrong. He was... awesome.

We brought it into the house to show mum.

"Feel like rabbit for supper?"

"I'm not cleaning that thing. Get it out of here." My Toronto-born mum always knew she'd married the rural life, but she drew a line at butchering cute things.

We took it back to the field and let it go. Boy, did that sucker run. Have you ever seen a cotton tail at full speed? It's magic.

My brother, John, and I didn't watch a minute of TV the rest of the Christmas break. We tried over and over again to recreate Dad's trick, but never could. He's awesome.

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