Lynn's Comments: With arrogance and purpose I walked up to the couple I had been staring at... to discover they were complete strangers. By telling such tales on myself, I was hoping to both cleanse my soul and warn others to MYOB!
Lynn's Comments: In the log home we owned from 1983 until 2003 our laundry was upstairs and out of the way. It was therefore easily ignored until we needed clean clothes. Next to the laundry appliances I had a sewing table, which would eventually become so heaped with mending that the sewing machine disappeared. When I finally grit my teeth and settled into the task of fixing all the defective duds, I would inevitably discover items of kids' clothing that had been there so long, my kids had outgrown them! By putting this scenario into the strip, I absolved myself of guilt and hoped that other busy moms would also forgive themselves and do what I did: pass the stuff on to someone else! I did, however, repair it beforehand!
Lynn's Comments: Our old chesterfield became the repository for all kinds of flotsam--some of it dangerous, like matches and needles. I was always careful to work my fingers into all the crevices before declaring it bounce-worthy. Here's a story my dad told us: A friend of his once stepped on a small needle. It went so far into his foot that he couldn't get it out. He left it there and forgot about it. A number of years later, he found a bump on his knee and when he scratched it, out came the needle! Is this possible? I don't know! Maybe someone out there can tell me.
Lynn's Comments: There was a time I'd go into a house like this--where the people took scattered toys, dog hair, and mangled furniture for granted. I'd step over Tinker Toys and half eaten sandwiches wondering how in the world they could live like that! I'd see crusts on tabletops and a sink full of dishes, and I'd think to myself, "How can she stand to live in a house that isn't clean, tidy, and well organized?!!" ... Then I had kids.
Lynn's Comments: I have always wondered why gymnasiums didn't harness all the energy that is wasted by wheels on exercycles and the like as they spin all day long. With that in mind, I think hamster wheels could be installed in homes where kids tear around relentlessly. If this energy was being put to good use, such as running the vacuum, perhaps we wouldn't resent the mess and the dust they create quite so much!
Lynn's Comments: It's hard for most adults to keep a secret, but for a kid, it's almost impossible. I once overheard my son trying not to tell his sister what she was getting for her birthday. His words went like this, "If I knew something but I don't, but if I did, I wouldn't tell you but it's something you'll really, really like." He struggled with every word, and in the end, managed not to tell. I was so proud of him
Lynn's Comments: I have always wondered what it is that makes boys and men want to run around shooting each other, when a really good, moderated argument would resolve almost anything. My thinking is: If women ruled the world, we'd get the politics over with expediently, thereby saving the civilian population, then do our best to rejuvenate each other's economies by shopping! This said by someone who admits to having been a street fighter at the age of five!
Lynn's Comments: Both my kids loved to go Christmas shopping. They still do! Finding the right thing for the right person is exciting, and in our family, funny gifts are the best. One of the best gifts I remember as a kid was a skipping rope. With cardboard and glue my dad made the longest, thinnest box in the world. He placed the skipping rope in it full-length, then wrapped it and put it under the tree. For the life of me, I couldn't imagine what it was, and when I opened it, I laughed and laughed. The parcel itself was almost better than the gift!
Lynn's Comments: The one time I remember going Christmas shopping with my dad was the time he decided we needed a new couch for the living room and wanted to buy one for Mom for Christmas. Bad idea. We bought a squared-off, ugly beige thing with fabric that felt like the rough side of Velcro. Mom hated it ... but, true to form, she never complained. They had that awful couch until they moved out of the house on Fifth Street. The next couch they had, she bought--with no input from Dad. Fair is fair!
Lynn's Comments: For years, Dad worked in the jewellery and giftware business. A lot of the stuff I thought was gaudy or too expensive but one year, a glass fairy caught my eye. Her face, hands, and legs were frosted glass, her wings and clothing were clear. She sat on a "tuffet" of pebbly, textured glass--and I thought she was beautiful. I must have been about twelve when I asked for her as a gift. She was given to me for Christmas and was the first breakable piece I ever owned. This little fairy sat on my dressing table until I left home. I wish I had taken her with me because she disappeared when my folks sold the house and moved away. She was the model for this Christmas story and I still hope she's around--perhaps on another child's dressing table--still unbroken and still loved.
Lynn's Comments: This comes from a joke my dad used to tell about a man and his son who got onto an elevator. I can't recall the joke, but I always remembered the punch line, which was: "If anyone hears anything or smells anything--it's my dad!"
Lynn's Comments: Whenever we kids went into dad's shop, we were told "Look, but don't touch." He'd also say, "You can't break something by looking at it." One day, I was looking at the corrugated board my mother used for stringing pearls. One of the services our business provided was the cleaning and restringing of quality bead necklaces--and Mom was an expert at this. I couldn't help myself, I had to run my fingers down a row of pearls just to see what they felt like. The row of pearls rolled off the groove of the board onto the floor with a wild tinkling clatter. Dad spun around when he heard them fall and ran towards me. "Honest! ... I was just LOOKING!" I told him. We both got down on the floor--desperate to find each and every one before Mom could see what had happened. Unfortunately, she returned before we finished picking up the pearls, and as her eyes fell on me, with his usual comic timing, Dad looked up at her and cried, "Honest ... I was just LOOKING!"
Lynn's Comments: My dad took us to the Hudson's Bay store one year to see Santa. We were a bit too old to do the Santa thing, but this was something we felt we were doing for Dad. He was in a great mood and enthusiastically encouraged us to wait in a long line. As we stood there, he went on and on about the decorations and the scene in which Santa had been placed. I remember thinking that he was way more excited about this than we were. Eventually, Alan and I had our turns on Santa's lap, were photographed, given a candy cane, and allowed to go. Dad was beaming, and on the bus heading home, he quizzed us about our Santa experience. "Well," I said, "he was greasy and smelled like cigarettes and needed to use a toothbrush really badly."
Alan added, "His beard wasn't real and didn't fit right, and I didn't like the way he said 'Ho, Ho, Ho'." Dad looked out the window of the bus for a while and said little else about our trip to see the great Claus. When we got home, I overheard Dad talking to Mom about our excursion. As it turned out ... the man who was dressed as Santa was a great pal of our dad's!
Lynn's Comments: One of the things I loved about my dad was that he took things in stride. He didn't get too upset when something got broken. Stuff, after all, was just stuff, and what couldn't be repaired could be replaced. As long as it hadn't been maliciously done, occasional breakage was not a big deal. We did, after all, have a gift shop, and china got broken in transit all the time.
Lynn's Comments: Mom was a master at repairing things. She could glue and sand and paint and varnish almost anything so that the crack, chip, or missing piece was restored. This meant that anything broken at the store that was salvageable, made it's way home. We had, therefore, a plethora of pots, vases, statuettes, and collectible objects strategically placed about the house. At the time, smoking was fashionable. On every table, armchair, and bookshelf was an ashtray with a butt in every one. Dusting the china and cleaning the ashtrays was often my job, and when I got to be a teenager, I swore that when I had a place of my own, it would have no bric-a-brac or dust-collecting junk anywhere. That was then. I now have my share of detritus but it's all in cabinets and there are no ashtrays!
Lynn's Comments: The real Farley didn't care much for candy, but he did like to chew stuff. Knowing he was not allowed near the Christmas tree, he would sneak across the floor like a stalking cat. Then, when he thought we weren't looking, he'd bite chunks off the candy canes and spit them out. I bought plastic candy canes to replace the real ones, and these later (when we no longer had a pet) became part of a family tradition: when Aaron and Katie helped decorate the tree, the candy canes were plastic but on Christmas morning, they "magically" became real!
Lynn's Comments: I love to wrap gifts. This happy pastime evolved when I worked in my parents' gift and jewellery store. We offered a gift-wrapping service and mom was an expert. At the back of the shop there was a table all set up for this. Long rolls of wrapping paper and rolls of ribbon hung conveniently above the table where Mom kept tape, scissors, gift cards, and all kinds of floral toppers--for that final touch. She showed me how to fold the edges of the paper so the bottom and the sides of the package were beautifully neat. We made huge puffy bows with paper ribbon, and we "stripped" the ties 'til they curled. Gift-wrapping was a job I loved and the customers came back again and again for our wrapping skills ... and just to visit. We had one of those shops that went the extra mile! I still love to gift-wrap, and I've passed the skills on to my daughter who has taken this to an even higher level--she makes gift baskets that are too beautiful to open!
Lynn's Comments: Once in a while, I would put a bit of religion into Christmas and Easter strips to prove that I DID know the reason for the celebration and to assuage the readers who thought I was far too focused on the commercial aspects. I could guarantee three kinds of mail when a strip like this was released: One came from the Christian right, who asked that much more focus be put on ecclesiastical issues; one from the atheists, who felt that I was pushing religion down their throats; and finally the moderates, who appreciated the occasional reminder that festivals like this deserve a nod to the deity for whom the chocolate was fashioned and the bells were tolled. Again, I tried to answer every letter I received. Even if I disagreed with someone's philosophy, I certainly appreciated the time they took to write to me.
Lynn's Comments: My bed had a white headboard and, for as long as I can remember, a violet, flowered bedspread. I would turn it into a vehicle, a flying carpet, or a tent in the wilderness -- and with each incarnation came a different position for sleeping. I used the pillow for everything from a headrest and chest protector to a dashboard and helmet. The blankets could be a cloak, a tent, or a capsule in outer space. In my bed, my imagination went wild, which was good thing ... because I was sent to my room a lot!
Lynn's Comments: Comparing what we got for Christmas with the neighbourhood kids might have been a problem for our folks, except that everyone in our neighbourhood had just about the same stuff. None of us seemed to have more or less than anyone else, and those who were scrimping managed to look clean, healthy, well dressed, and confident. We lived on Fifth and Lonsdale. Folks living on Fourth fit into our "status," and folks on Sixth did, too. Above and below these streets, there seemed to be a marked difference. If we compared our yuletide haul with anyone on Third, for example, we were likely to be called rich. This was easier to take than comparisons with kids who lived on Eighth or Keith Road or the Boulevard. Our stash would be meagre compared to the kids who lived up there! Whenever I go home, I'm drawn to this area of North Vancouver. For the most part, the wartime houses and the tenement buildings have gone. In their places are impossibly priced condos and attached homes--hard for even the most confident buyers to afford, and I wonder if these subtle lines of "status" still exist. If so, it would be interesting to find out what the "poor" kids in this area get for Christmas!
Lynn's Comments: Wherever Aaron was playing, Katie wanted to be, too. With their big difference in ages, she was considered a pest. The boys would holler for assistance and I'd rescue them from the fumbling hands of a little kid. I would then have to find something special for Katie to do so she wouldn't feel left out. I often wondered if her gravitation to the boys' bombs and light sabres wasn't a neat ploy to get 100% of Mom's attention!
Lynn's Comments: This is one of the strips I actually used in an effort to find someone. The names "Stan, Gretchen, Barb, and Kenny" appeared on a Christmas card with no last name and no return address. I never did find out who they were ... so if you're reading this, folks, and you sent a card to the Johnstons in 1983 ... this is why you never got one in return!
About This Strip:
Originally Run: 1983-12-29 Appearing:Elly, John Location:home
Lynn's Comments: My kids used to beg to stay up until midnight, and if there was no party planned, we'd say yes--hoping they'd pass out well before the ball descended the post in Times Square. More than once they woke us up to tell us the New Year had come.
Lynn's Comments: I recently watched a series on HBO that showed not only the most graphic violence, but some of the most explicit sexual scenes I have ever witnessed! Naturally, I wouldn't want young children to see stuff like this. I thought it was over the top and unfit to show as family entertainment. I watched the entire series, glued to the set, and was sorry when it was over.
Lynn's Comments: I remember waking up on the morning of January first hoping to see something new--anything that would tell me that a new year had begun. This is when I became interested in calendars. My first calendar was courtesy of the BC dairy farmers who sent one to all their customers. It had a cow on the top, and stapled to the base were the twelve months of the year--ready to be written on and torn away. I must have been around six because I could write well and I remember making notes on each month--like a grown up.