Editor’s Letter: Winter 2018

They say a picture says a thousand words. Well our cover photo pretty much says it all for our entire holiday/winter issue. GET OUTSIDE AND HAVE SOME FUN! When my friend Cathy invited me over to see the swing that a family member had gifted her for Christmas last year it was love at first sight. I knew in that moment, a whole year ago, that I wanted to dedicate the Holiday 2018 edition of At Home on the North Shore to winter frolic. What’s more fun than having a Santa-suit-red ski lift swing in your back yard? Just looking at that swing makes you feel merry. I don’t think there could ever be a more perfect gift for my friend Cathy. She’s a bit of a ski bum but she is also a gal who loves to get outside and get moving no matter what the mercury is telling us. So she was totally game when I asked if we could use the swing for a cover shot and also plunk that ski bum down for the photo. But it is a swing for two and her daughters were away at school so one quick call to Jane Lundin, another woman who enjoys the wonders of winter, and we were almost ready to take our picture. We found some old snow shoes, tied a pretty bow on a wreath, and we were good to go…but wait…there was no snow. We can’t have a cover photo about winter fun without snow! Well the day finally came. We were well into winter but the snowflakes aligned, the sun was out and, with the help of Steve Smith who makes all of our photos magic, our cover shoot felt more like a play date with childhood friends. I love our cover photo, I hope you do too.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, getting outside to play in the winter is good for the soul and good for your immunity, your mood, your joints and pretty much what ever ails you. Most of us need more movement in our lives. Especially during the winter months when the urge is to hibernate. Sally O’Neill’s story Winter, The Coolest Season for Fun will inspire you to get off the couch this winter and play. She has curated a great list of all of the hot spots where you can play with your kids, your significant other, or a group of good friends. Allison Gaudet, one of our newest contributors, has some great tips to make it a little easier to get out the door and, when you come back in, how to have a hot beverage station on the ready to warm you up.
It’s also time to trim those trees. We have two stories that will get you in the mood to pull your boxes of decorations down from the attic and start decking out your own halls. Don’t let the title Blue Christmas fool you. There is nothing maudlin about Carolyn and David McGrath’s home on the Gulf Shore Road near Pugwash. Author Sara Jewell writes about their home and decorating style that is “guided by the love of the ocean.”
I decided it was time that I took a turn and opened my home for a holiday tour. All of our homeowners are so gracious when they welcome us into their homes and share their stories. I have an elevated appreciation for all of their effort getting their personal spaces “camera ready.” But, like all of our special guests featured in At Home, I had a lot of fun with the process and it didn’t take too much arm-twisting the get three of my children in a few photos. My husband Sean was out of town when we had to schedule the photos and one of my boys as still at university, however, he would have been the tough one to convince.

There is a lot going on in our house at Christmas time and it comes out in my personal decorating style. I like things pretty traditional but with a little Cindy-Loo Who thrown in to keep things fun…there’s that word again.
This year will be the first in almost fifty years that I didn’t spend part of my holiday celebration in Westville. After my sister and I lost our wonderful Dad this spring, our Mum decided it was time to make a move and start the next chapter of her life in a cozy little home attached to my sister’s house outside of Pictou. As I write this editor’s note we are only a few days away from closing the door of the MacKinnon family home on North Main Street for the last time. I can still hear my Dad’s tone-deaf version of O’ Little Town of Westville echoing under the tall ceilings and smell my mum’s Christmas pudding steaming on the stove. I remember building snowmen families in the front yard and jumping off the roof of the outdoor cellar entry into piles of snow heaved there by my brother and his friends. I remember cuddling in my bed on Christmas Eve with my little sister, too excited to sleep, as we waited for Santa. I remember the first Christmas my parents became grandparents and I remember the last Christmas spent in their house before I got married and started my own family. What I remember is a lot of fun!

From my house to yours, I am wishing you a most Merry Christmas and a Happy Winter that is filled with fun. Now go play!

Crystals Signature

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Crystal Murray
Crystal likes to think about her forays in journalism like interval training. " I have had a wonderful freedom to be home when I needed to be and work when the spirit moved me. In the spaces between I have learned things about myself, my family and my community that I hope will find a rightful place in the new and refreshed pages of At Home on the North Shore. "