"Is that wonderland jam, Nanny?" my three year old granddaughter asks as she waits for the partridgeberry jam for her crackers. Wonderland is what Caitlin calls Newfoundland.
"Yes it is," I say as I spread the jam for her and smile. Caitlin doesn't have any memories of Wonderland although she has been there. She was two months old when her mother took her to Corner Brook to see her sick great grandfather. Somehow, in Caitlin's mind, Newfoundland is Wonderland.
I know what she means. While I love my current island home, my soul belongs to Wonderland too and this time of year, as Christmas draws near, my thoughts always turn to home.
The people, the rugged landscape, the way of life, are part of my being. It is a place where weather is a conversation piece, where wind predominates and fog, rain and snow are common. You don't visit for the great weather. However, that weather is one of the features which binds the people together, as they fight the elements and struggle in that rugged environment.
Humour is a way of life too. The people see the lighter side of life and can easily share a joke to ease a burden. We are deeply rooted in our island home. It is said you will know all the Newfoundlanders in heaven. They are the ones who want to go home.
We are also a friendly, hospitable people as evidenced by the events of September 11, 2001. The people of Gander and other central Newfoundland communities, opened their hearts and homes to passengers of over 30 giant aircraft, forced to land while in route to their destinations in the United States on that fateful day. They landed in Gander, almost doubling the size of the town in one day.
The story of their reception in Gander is now on its way to Broadway as the musical Come from Away. It played in Gander and is on stage now in Toronto, opening in New York in March. It has received rave reviews.
In the face of some of the worst which humankind can do to one another, there was an example of hope during those tragic days.
"Yes, Caitlin. There is a wonderland."