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The ‘Traditional’ Weaver Log Party
This year, winter has come early for us. I mean really early and really winter…like over a month early with more than a foot of snow in October! We started having the excitement of school busses not running, snow filled laneways, and frozen livestock watering bowls in October. These are usually December or January problems. It’s safe to say that winter is here to stay and it’s going to be a long one.
As the third blizzard in two weeks arrived, many things blew through our yard. First there were some old feed pails….then a bit of garbage out of a truck that drove by….but the best thing that blizzard blew in was our Uncle Reg.
Uncle Reg was trying to return home from a trip he had taken to visit a friend in Kansas City. After driving over 800 miles in one day, he was only a few hours from home when snow covered icy roads put a stop to his plans. Uncle Reg wisely decided to stop in and spend the night on the farm.
In his typical happy and enthusiastic way, Uncle Reg declared this blizzard to be the perfect time to hold an old fashioned Weaver family ‘Log Party’. Uncle Reg explained to us that in the old days on the farm, when times got tough and the cold weather settled in, the Weavers would have ‘Log Parties’ with their neighbors and friends.
We all looked at each other, assuming that everyone else knew about these log parties, but somehow we had been left out of the story. Typical of Uncle Reg’s visits, he shared his vision of the fun we were about to have, and we all fell into step behind him making it happen.
He started the party by telling us that everyone was going to come to our house because we have a big stone fireplace, reminiscent of the type that the settlers would have had back in the original ‘Log Party’ days. He then rallied all of the Grandmas, Uncles, Aunties and Cousins and invited them to come to our house to enjoy the old time log party. Everyone was to bring their own log for the fire, as was the tradition one hundred years ago when the Weaver family was settling in this area.
As his plans grew and his phone calls were made, the log party turned into a log and wine party. It turns out that the Weavers also enjoyed sipping a ‘bit of spirits’ back in the day when the blizzards blew in and they huddled around the fire with their friends and neighbors at their log party.
The plans continued to grow, as they do when we get on a roll, and it was decided that the log and wine party might as well be a dinner party also. A big roast beef was cooked, complete with mashed potatoes, vegetables, and Uncle Reg’s famous home made apple pies for dessert.
It was like Christmas in November….except colder and with more snow, and instead of weeks of menu planning and preparation this traditional Weaver family Log, Wine and Dinner party for 20 was planned and executed in approximately 6 hours. I propose that from this day forward, all gatherings of this size should only have 6 hours of preparation. The spontaneity took out any stress over doing things perfectly.
Finally, the preparations were complete and the guests started to slide in…literally…the roads had not improved at all. I was beginning to think about where all of our extra blankets and toothbrushes were so that we could be prepared for the possibility of a snowed in sleep over.
Uncle Reg gathered around his nephews and nieces, and great nephews and great nieces. He managed to get them very excited and honored to be celebrating their very first Weaver log party. Some questioned why we hadn’t celebrated this time honored tradition before.
He told them the stories about how the Weaver family didn’t have a lot of money when they were settling this land 100 years ago. Money was scarce, so they made their wine from the Saskatoon berries that were so plentiful.
Uncle Reg told them about the tough men and strong women who cut the logs from the fields to burn for heat when the bitter storms would blow through. You could see the kids’ interest grow, and you could feel the pride they felt in knowing that they had come from such strong and resourceful roots.
He motivated them to carry on in the tradition of getting things done, as their Weaver ancestors had. Uncle Reg gave them little wooden circles called ‘Round Tuit’, so that they could never say that something hadn’t been completed because they hadn’t gotten around to it. He had given them each a ‘Round Tuit’, so there should be no excuses.
The kids asked questions about the Weaver family log parties, and Uncle Reg answered with much knowledge about the hardships of settling the prairies, and about the fun that the Weaver family would have at their log parties to help pass the time when the bitter cold winters would settle in.
As I was in the kitchen getting another glass of wine, Uncle Reg came up to me with a twinkle in his eye, and asked…’Do you think they believe me?’…
“What do you mean?” I asked.
Here is where Uncle Reg let me in on his little secret. There were no Weaver family log parties. No wine made from saskatoons in the field. Uncle Reg weaved this story together in a successful attempt to get his nieces and nephews just a little more interested in their heritage and the history of this farm.
I suppose it’s true that you should never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
Once he had gained everyone’s attention with his stories about partying 100 years ago, the more truthful stories could be told. We heard true stories about beloved relatives who have passed on. Auntie Zena, Reg’s mother who passed away almost a year ago, had lived to be 104. She could remember watching the troops, including her Uncle Walter, march past her on their way to fight in WW1. She could remember when penicillin was discovered, and how it saved so many lives. Uncle Reg reminded us of Zena’s story of helping her mother delivering a woman’s baby right on her kitchen table. We all miss her, and on this night at our Log party, we toasted her memory with wine not made from Saskatoon berries that grew in the field, but with wine that had been left from the party we held in celebration of her amazing life. I think she would have liked that.
We remembered Uncle Reg’s cousin, our father and our kids’ grandpa – Leroy. Grandpa Leroy was a big, strong man. Some of his granddaughters have never had the pleasure of climbing onto his lap to pull gum out of his pocket. Always trident gum, and always the light blue colored package. They haven’t seen him put on his glasses to write in his journal…every day, recording the weather, commodity prices, births, deaths and happenings from his chair near the window at the kitchen table. They haven’t seen his second to none, ‘full steam ahead’ approach to getting a job done, so it was good for them to hear stories about him. Most notably the story of how the logs for our log party were gathered by their Grandpa Leroy, Uncle Reg, and their Grandma Anita 15 years ago.
It was fun for all of us to have the opportunity to get together for a spur of the moment, apparently no so traditional Weaver Log, Wine and Dinner party. As the snow outside grew deeper, it was the perfect excuse to set all of our obligations aside to spend one night laughing and telling stories, some true and some less true. There were great stories about our family who live here with us now, as well as those who lived here before us and who continue to live here through our stories and remembrances of them.
We are so fortunate to have hosted our first Weaver Log, Wine and Dinner party. We intend to carry on this tradition for the next 100 years. Who knows what kinds of stories our nieces, nephews, and grandchildren will make up about us…and I’m looking forward to being there to share some truths.
However, I won’t let them get in the way of a good story.
“Family faces are like magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future.” -Gail Lumet Buckley