Our Man In Canada
December 19th, 2005

Christmas for a Northern Fly Fisher
...Some rambling reflections on traditions.
By Chris Chin, Jonquiere Quebec

My absolutely favourite pool is located at 48°19'1.17"N by 69°58'33.46"W ...it froze over a couple weeks ago. This morning, there is a heavy snowfall and blizzard warning in effect. Fly fishing is not quite on this weekend's agenda.

Well, at least we are guaranteed to have a white Christmas. That's what the morning talk radio was highlighting. Hey, Christmas? Already !

Ooops!

Now don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not "Scrooge." My professional life has this annual schedule where I have to get some major projects rolled out each year in December. I drop off the "Boards" and rely on my PalmPilot to remember which city I'm in and to remind me of where I will be in an hour. Preparations for Christmas for me usually start around... oh, say December 23rd.

For the past couple of decades, Christmas has been a fairly simple affair for me. I live about 4,000 miles from my parents and I haven't spent Christmas with them since 1989. There is one milestone event or tradition that happens here every year that sort of kick starts me into the Christmas season.

Every year for the past 2 or 3 decades, my Mom sends me a "Care" package with some Christmas goodies in it. The mail arrives early at my house, so it's usually my girlfriend and Junior who open it.

Inside we'll find a couple of different boxes of chocolates, short bread, plum pudding, home made jam (which we serve to clients the following season), a note from Mom, as well as some grocery items such as Chinese sausages, dried black mushrooms, Jerk seasoning etc.

I'm not sure if it's because of the familiar foods, the quick note written in Mom's scrawling hand writing (almost as bad as mine) or the simple act of thinking about her, but this plain cardboard box is like a touch stone which can whirl me back to Christmas' of yesteryear.

You know those Christmas'; back when the snow banks were higher than us (well,...we WERE only 4 feet tall at the time). Back when:

  • Carollers actually sang in the street instead of a climate controlled mall.

  • You would shake the hand of your neighbour at midnight mass and they would look you in the eyes and truly and sincerely wish you the same.

  • Mandarin oranges were available only once a year and they came in wooden crates.

  • ...And when the food shelter at the local fire hall actually had enough stuff to help out all those who needed it.

Was Christmas BETTER "back then?" I can't say. I will say that Christmas and it's traditions is what you make of it. Just like fly fishing. Traditions are remembered, adapted, carried on and passed on to our kids.

Tradition in my home always includes roast turkey with stuffing, baked pepper squash, rice 'n peas and baked Alaska for dessert (e-mail me for the recipes as I don't want to use up too much band width here).

Traditions can be simple things too, like always exploring a run first off on a dry or always/usually/sometimes practising C&R fishing.

Traditions are also a part of the values and principles that we pass on to our friends and especially to our children.

Traditions are a reflection (in part) of who we are, where we came from and what we wish to pass on to the future as a cultural, natural or social heritage.

I would like to wish you all a very Happy and Safe Christmas 2005. ~ Chris

About Chris:

Chris Chin is originally from Kamloops, British Columbia. He has been fly fishing on and off ever since he was 10 years old. Chris became serious about the sport within the last 10 years.

"I'm a forest engineer by day and part time guide on the Ste-Marguerite River here in central Quebec. I've been fishing this river for about 10 years now and started guiding about 5 years ago when the local guide's association sort of stopped functioning."

Chris guides mostly for sea run brook trout and about 30% of the time for Atlantic Salmon. "I often don't even charge service fees, as I'm more interested in promoting the river than making cash. I like to get new comers to realize that salmon fishing is REALLY for anyone who cares to try it. Tradition around here makes some of the old clan see Salmon fishing as a sport for the rich. Today our shore lunches are less on the cucumber sandwich side and more toward chicken pot pie and Jack Daniel's."

Chris is 42 years old as of this writing. He is of Chinese origin although his parents were born and raised in Jamaica. He has a girlfriend, Renée. "She and her 12 year old son Vincent started fly fishing with me in October 2002."

To learn more about the Ste-Marguerite River, visit Christopher's website http://pages.videotron.com/fcch/. ~ Christopher Chin

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