(From left to right) My mother’s grandmother, Gran, sitting down to Christmas dinner with my grandmother Bertha, my grandfather Bob and my mum’s aunt Judy. (Photo courtesy of Annette Kennedy)

(From left to right) My mother’s grandmother, Gran, sitting down to Christmas dinner with my grandmother Bertha, my grandfather Bob and my mum’s aunt Judy. (Photo courtesy of Annette Kennedy)

Memories of Cloverdale show ‘Christmas isn’t a time to be alone’

Reporter Grace Kennedy reflects on Cloverdale holidays through the experiences of family and friends

It was Christmas, 1977, and my mum and her dad were at the laundromat in Cloverdale, passing a puck back and forth in the parking lot.

My mum, a shy kid of nine, and her six-year-old sister had both received hockey sticks for Christmas; a broken washing machine meant they were tested out while a week’s worth of clothes spun at the laundromat.

“After one of two passes back and forth, Gramps says ‘Oh, let me show you how to lift the puck,’” my mum remembered.

“So he’s standing on the other side of the parking lot and lifts the puck and it boinks me right there,” she said, pointing to her right eyebrow. “And then I start bleeding.”

Leaving the clothes in the washing machine, my gramps pops my mum in his truck. “He picks up this dirty old rag off the floor of the farm truck that I can hold over my wound,” she said.

They drive to Surrey Memorial Hospital, where my mum gets stitches and Gramps is asked if he would like to press charges against the person who did this to his daughter. (He didn’t.) Then it’s back in the truck to their home on 176 Street where my granny was waiting, oblivious to what had happened.

“Granny is very, very angry,” my mum said, starting to laugh. “But mostly she’s angry because we left all the laundry at the laundromat, and somebody might steal it.”

The hockey puck story, from which my mum still bears a scar, isn’t the only Christmas memory she has of Cloverdale. After all, my granny, my gramps, my mum and her sister lived in Cloverdale for five years — and five years leaves a lot of time for Christmas memories.

Annette Tande, my mum, with Santa Claus in the 1970s. (Photo courtesy of Annette Kennedy)
Annette Tande, my mum, with Santa Claus in the 1970s.

Photo courtesy of Annette Kennedy

But the hockey story is one of the most vivid. Others blend together with the passing of years until they become tradition: steamy kitchen windows, a flurry of torn wrapping paper, mountains of dishes and birthday cake for the youngest cousin. When dinner came, it was a table for 12: my mum’s immediate family, plus two aunts and their families, and a grandmother.

“There might have been one or two extras,” my granny remembered, “because sometimes if I heard that somebody was going to stay by themselves at Christmas, I would invite them over for Christmas dinner.”

Karen Gendron, a nearly 30-year resident of Cloverdale, agreed.

“Christmas is about family. And we’ve always said that nobody has to spend Christmas alone,” she said.

Karen is the building manager for Wyndham Estates on 176A Street, and the mother of one of my closest friends. She also has a table of 12 (a tight squeeze in an apartment dining room) that welcomes lonely friends.

“Christmas isn’t a time to be alone,” she said.

Christmas isn’t a time to be alone. But it’s hard to be in Cloverdale, where holiday spirit drapes itself over the sidewalks and multiplies in living rooms, store fronts and church halls.

On Christmas Eve, Pacific Community Church is always full, the Gendrons said, with church-goers illuminated by their candles as they sing Silent Night. Forty years ago, Christ the Redeemer Anglican church was over-full, my gramps remembered, with parishioners standing outside in the graveyard during the service.

Even for those who eschew religious ceremony, it’s hard to escape company in Cloverdale.

“The wonderful thing about Cloverdale is people just come out for everything. Everything,” Karen said. “No matter what the weather’s going to be for a parade, you can count on a crowd.”

Taryn (left) and Holly Gendron, eating maple syrup candy in the early 2000s. (Photo courtesy of Karen Gendron)
Taryn (left) and Holly Gendron, eating maple syrup candy in the early 2000s.

Photo courtesy of Karen Gendron

For Karen and my friend Holly, the best Christmas parade has always been the Santa Claus Parade — a precursor to what is now the Surrey Santa Parade of Lights. Back then, in the late 1990s, Santa and Mrs. Claus would arrive in Hawthorne Square to greet believing children with smiles and crafts.

“She was always so warm,” Holly said about Mrs. Claus. “She kind of reminded me of the Mrs. Claus from the Rudolph Christmas special, where Santa could be a little friendlier — not that Santa was unfriendly, but like Mrs. Claus was kind of holding the show together.”

Kids would make crafts and eat popcorn; parents would bump into families they knew. It was not much different than the ballet recitals and Christmas concerts of my mum’s youth, where parents met up with each other again and again during December rehearsals.

Between the individual Christmas memories — making maple syrup candies on a block of ice, or ice skating on flooded fields at Fry’s Corner, or even getting stitches from a hockey puck to the face — the community of Cloverdale always managed to thread its way into family stories.

“It was a nice town in those days,” my granny said. Looking around as Cloverdale prepares for Christmas, I can confidently say it still is.

Do you have memories or photos of your Christmases in Cloverdale? Whether it’s a favourite Christmas gift, an iconic family recipe or just a moment walking down main street, share them with us by emailing editor@cloverdalereporter.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey city councillors complain not enough public input in committees

City has gone ‘exactly the opposite direction,’ Councillor Brenda Locke charges

Pindie Dhaliwal, one of the organizers for the Surrey Challo protest for Indian farmers. She says organizers were told by Surrey RCMP that the event was not allowed due to COVID-19. Organizers ended up moving the protest to Strawberry Hill at the last minute. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Indian farmers rally moves as organizers say Surrey RCMP told them they couldn’t gather

Protest originally planned in Cloverdale, moved to Strawberry Hill

Fraser Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at a Surrey high-intensity rehabilitation unit, Laurel Place. On Dec. 22, 2020, Fraser Health said four patients and two staff members have tested positive for the virus. (Image: Google Street View)
Fraser Health says COVID-19 outbreak over at Laurel Place in Surrey

Health authority declared outbreak over Jan. 16

Tsawwassen resident Angeline Splockton won $100,000 from a Luxury Crossword Scratch & Win ticket. (BCLC photo)
Nightly ritual turns into $100K win for Tsawwassen woman

Angeline Splockton uncovered 11 words on her Luxury Crossword Scratch & Win ticket

A Transit Police officer and another driver were injured on Nov. 4 in a traffic crash while the officer was responding to another officers call for help catching a man who escaped custody. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Police watchdog investigating Surrey crash that injured transit cop, another driver

Crash happened 11 p.m. Nov. 4, at 128th Street and 93rd Avenue in Cedar Hills

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

sdf
Another Mission student arrested for assault, in 2nd case of in-school violence this week

RCMP notified of local Instagram page with videos (now deleted) showing student assaults, bullying

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Most Read