Mayor Richard Atwell’s memories of Christmas past

Recollections of ‘cabin fever’ during the blizzard of ‘96

Nine-year-old Richard Atwell poses with his prize Millennium Falcon Christmas present in 1979.

Before Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell was a Royal Oak resident, he was a White Rock kid.

“That’s where I would have been when I got the Millenium Falcon as a Christmas present in 1979,” Atwell recalled.

The coveted Star Wars toy is sure to be under some trees once again even though it won’t be part of the star fleet in the newest Star Wars movie. That movie, Rogue One, is sure to be a big part of the 2016 holidays.

“I’m not sure if I’ll see it right away but yes, I’ll probably catch [it in theatre],” Atwell said.

As a child, Christmas traditions for Atwell included some kind of Lego under the tree, as well as some technical building pieces with gears to build working machines. That was long before Atwell’s family moved to Sunnymede when he was 17.

Atwell was actually born in England and grew up in White Rock until he was 10. His family then lived in Kamloops until they moved to Victoria and Saanich. His parents are in the same Gordon Head house they bought in 1991.

On the Atwell table at Christmas dinner you’ll always find Yorkshire pudding, and on the coffee table, a tin of Quality Street chocolates.

“I loved that, mom makes those every year, and we do the British tradition of pulling Christmas crackers, wearing the funny hats and all.”

“The Saanich Christmas I remember most will forever by the winter of 1996, when the blizzard blew snow to the top of our door,” Atwell recalled. “It was horrible snow, we weren’t quite trapped, but there weren’t many places to go. Everywhere was closed, so we ended up getting cabin fever.”

In November 1994, Atwell gave his dad a kitten for his birthday. A month later the cat, which was bigger but not fully grown, ‘went crazy for the Christmas tree,’ and climbed to the top.

Aside from his favourite holiday flick, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, a lot of family movies would make their way onto the television during the holidays.

During the Christmas of 1992, Atwell had earned some extra money at a co-op job and purchased his mom a Sony Handycam.

“We should have all those Christmases on videotape somewhere,” he said.

If you spot some Saanich Christmas carollers this year, you might spot Atwell among them. The mayor took part in some carolling last Christmas and enjoyed it enough that he’ll likely be out again this month.

“Christmastime is just a special time of the year, and I know that people get caught up in getting presents and such, but really, it’s more than that, and the last few years I’ve really come to love the spirit of it.”

 

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

VicPD to reopen front counter services on Monday

No masks provided, but encouraged to be worn

Oak Bay pandemic project gets 300 submissions

Gage Gallery exhibit shows how people cope during crisis

Peninsula food bank receives $1,000 donation from local retailer

House of Lily Koi raised the money through the annual food bank fundraiser

Garden-sharing map connects Victoria landowners and gardeners

U-Map created by Young Agrarians after COVID-19 created uptick in garden matching requests

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Annual music event in Comox Valley celebrates online instead

Vancouver Island MusicFest holds virtual celebration set for July 10

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Most Read