I Know What’s Been Missing at Christmas

I  Know What’s Been Missing at Christmas

Until a few years ago, Christmas spirit in the air of Metro Vancouver seemed more palpable than it has recently.

Until a few years ago, I experienced  a two week  feeling of well –being , a festive glow that warmly conquered  the stress and bustle of  fighting the shopping rush. It was something in the air. Whether it was snowy or west coast rainy, it just seemed festive.

Decorated downtown windows. Christmas lights on buildings, in trees, even strewn on construction cranes. People bustling, wearing scarves and doing all the Christmassy things people are accused of doing in carol after  carol. Snow crunching, kids bunching, things blinking bright red and green, people rushing home with their treasures and bringing figgy pudding to people  who won’t go until they get some.

The glow of being finished one’s school or work for the year and having just a bit of shopping to do before relaxing with a glass of wine or egg nog at home and  hearth and reveling in Christmas celebration.

It was a wonderful feeling of Christmas, and it was on the streets, in the air as soon as I walked along Christmas streets.

 I haven’t felt that way lately. I’m going through the motions.

What’s been missing the last few years? Why do I feel less Christmassy?

 Is it simply that  I’m getting older and annually more blasé about the whole Christmas thing? No, I’ve been old for years, but I still appreciate the Christmas spirit. Maybe the economy is distracting me. No, I don’t quite know what “the economy” means  and even if I did , it’s not noticeably sapping me of   seasonal good cheer. Is it global warming that  erodes whatever Christmas spirit  there is “in the air “ of  late?  

No. It’s none of these things – but I now know what it is.

 It came to me this afternoon  as I  glumly walked into Coquitlam Centre. It was


 It’s the bells. The sleigh bells. They’re gone.

 The big , jingling set of sleigh bells that for as long as I can remember,  percussed and punctuated the Christmas air are gone.

The, beautiful Dasher and Dancer bells, cheerfully shaken by the Salvation Army volunteer in the red suit , standing by the big, plastic, money holding orb hanging by chains from a red metal frame, with a five –dollar bill inside to “seed” the pot. – they’re gone.

 The big ,jangling bells that evoked Santa’s sleigh and reindeer. Gone.

The bells which helped make the streets feel unanimously Christmassy to all who walked them during the Christmas season. Gone.

 The sleigh bells are gone. Gone from the air and the ethos of  Vancouver


Apparently, the poignant, Christmassy jingle of sleigh bells  was “too noisy”  for two or three grinchy types, who complained to the “Sally Ann” about the “racket” made by the bells. Their humbuggery, allowed them to  ignore  the  classical  contribution the bell’s made to  the Christmas spirit of our streets.

Ever the sensitive organization, the Salvation Army, several years ago, responding to the spectacularly small number of complaints, replaced their wonderful sleigh bells. In their place, they  issued small, wimpy bells. Salvation Army volunteers now shake tiny bells, the kind that might adorn seasonal slippers, or the underwear of an office party – goer. 

And so, instead of  contributing to the feeling of Christmas as they did for so many years, the Salvation Army “bells”  now merely damn the season with faint praise

To me, this short-sighted narrow – mindedness  evokes  Basil Fawlty. When asked by his wife to “turn off that racket! ” , he replied,

“That’s Brahm’s Fifth Racket,  Sybil Darling…”

Please, let’s all wear pink t-shirts or something and tell the Salvation Army to bring back the sleigh bells, a traditional herald of  west coast Christmasses.


About jimnelson806

Educational consultant from Port Moody. "The Stuff Isn't What's Important" " School Wide Discipline Programmes Don't Work" " Vice Principals are crucial towards setting direction"
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to I Know What’s Been Missing at Christmas

  1. Brandon Keks says:

    They also stopped the bells in Toronto until recently when some level headed people stepped up and the Grinch’s backed down. The bells are back in TO. Hopefully they do the right thing back home as well.


  2. Lauren Nelson says:

    Love the line about “snow crunching… won’t go until we get some”! Nice work Padre, though I hope you don’t actually miss the Christmas spirit! I did notice a pair of particularly wimpy bells outside of PriceSmart yesterday. Looking forward to Christmas- see you soon! Love you and nice writing as always…!


  3. Marg Nelson says:

    Finally found your blog address again…enjoyed reading all the entries. Loved the same parts Lauren did, especially “who won’t go until they get some”.

    Your blog looks very professional!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s