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Phones will be ringing

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Hay River (Dec 19/05) - On Christmas Day, telephone lines in the NWT will be humming.

Like other Canadians, Northerners will be calling far and near with Christmas greetings for families and friends.

For many people, it's a Christmas tradition.

Sharon Pekok of Hay River phones relatives in Yellowknife, Inuvik and several cities in the South.

"Usually, you have to get up early because everyone is phoning," she says. Pekok explains Christmas is a family time, and, if families can't be together, they can at least talk by telephone.

"Christmas seems to draw everyone together," she says.

Every other year, Marilyn Green of Hay River will call her 92-year-old mother in Ireland, along with friends in her native England.

"It's just a special connection you need to make on Christmas," Green says.

She sometimes starts her calls on Christmas Eve.

"If you leave it to Christmas Day and you can't get through, then it really is a catastrophe," she says.

Sam Ransom of Fort Smith also makes sure to call his brothers and sister on Christmas Day.

"We always call relatives on Christmas Day," he says.

Ransom, who grew up in Newfoundland and on the north shore of Quebec, says Christmas Day and New Year's Day are big telephone days for his family.

He believes the telephone is an extension of families visiting each other in person - a way to keep in touch and share the family spirit.

Christmas Day is the second busiest day of the year for telephone use, says Peter Ball, manager of long-distance service with NorthwesTel.

It's only exceeded by Mother's Day, which is "by far" the busiest day, he says.

Third place is held by New Year's Eve.

Ball has a couple of tips to help callers get through on congested phone lines.

If a caller hears a fast busy signal, it's best to wait five minutes before trying again.

Ball advises to avoid calling between 1-4 p.m.

Those hours tend to be busiest because they fall between the time gifts are opened and families sit down for Christmas dinner, he said.