Brown Paper Parcels

By Caroline Sealey in Community, People

The bitter cold winds nipped at my face and snow swirled under my heavy winter boots as I trudged up the laneway. The old school bus roared off into the distance.
It was the end of November and I could hardly wait to get to the house. Two special deliveries would be arriving any day now.
I yelled for Mother as soon as I opened the back door.
“Not today, but maybe tomorrow. There are envelopes you can open for me if you’d like,” she said.
Usually Mother opened the mail. I guess it was her way of keeping me distracted until the deliveries I anxiously awaited, came. The post mark for country of origin on the envelopes said England. Care was taken to slit the envelopes open so the contents were not damaged. I pulled the Christmas card out of the envelope and a hand written letter fell onto the table. Cards from England always seemed more colourful and detailed than cards from Canada. The letter contained news and photos of family overseas.
As each day passed and no special deliveries came, I grew more and more disappointed. Other years they had usually arrived by now. I hoped they weren’t lost.
I was sure they would come but why were they delayed.
The day Mother said one of the deliveries had arrived, I could not contain my excitement. There on the kitchen table in front of me was a parcel wrapped in plain, brown paper tied up with string. A gift from my Grandparents in England.
Mother tore into the corner of the parcel to see if the presents inside were wrapped.
A yes meant that the parcel would be opened and the wrapped presents would be placed under the Christmas tree. Along with presents there were boxes of British chocolates and tinned cookies. Neither were opened until closer to
Christmas day.
A no meant that the whole parcel would go under the tree unopened.
Within days a second delivery arrived. Another parcel wrapped in plain, brown paper without any string. This parcel came from an Aunt and Uncle who felt no need for string as the package was tightly taped together. Auntie did not wrap her gifts so Mother would take the parcel into another room and carefully remove the British chocolates and chocolate bars. Uncle worked at a chocolate factory and sent extra chocolate for us to enjoy well into the New Year. With the parcel taped back together again, Mother would place it under the Christmas tree.
On Christmas morning as family gathered around the Christmas tree to open gifts from each other, it was decided that the parcels from England would be opened last. The brown paper packages were special.
They had come a long distance either by surface or air mail and contained gifts that could not be found in Canada. With great anticipation the parcels were opened. Inside were books, socks, handkerchiefs, toys, purses, wallets, keepsakes, trinkets and British pound notes. The favourite gifts were hand knitted mittens, hats, scarves and sweaters in colours not found in Canada.
As we sipped our Christmas tea, nibbled on British cookies and savoured British chocolates, we reflected on the Christmas season and cherished the brown paper parcels. They brought us just a little bit closer to family many miles away.