I grew up in Winnipeg; land of snowdrifts and awesome thunderstorms, massive starry skies and the best Folk Fest this side of Glastonbury. I remember one Saturday in December my Dad waking me up early and saying we had somewhere to be…so after warming up the car, bundling up in layers and shoveling half our driveway (once you had momentum going you could plow through the rest!) we headed across town to a nondescript warehouse that was bustling with people, coming and going carrying boxes, containers, vegetables and toys. As we got closer I realized this was as good as Santa’s Workshop, this was Winnipeg’s Christmas Cheer Board, and we were going to spend the day being elves.
My Dad and loaded up our Toyota SR5 station wagon three times that day. Turkeys, corn, cranberries and all the typical fixings, but also toilet paper, kraft dinner and socks were just as needed and necessary. We knocked on three different doors but the reaction was the same- faces dissolved from frowns into grins as they saw the boxes filled so full we could barely carry them up the steps. Kids bounced around with their candy canes and grandparents told us stories about homemade jam.
The last drop off of the day, in our city’s ‘seedy’ north end made the biggest impact on my 13 year old brain. Not only did the family cry when they opened the door for us, but we were invited in for hot chocolate. Powdered with mini marshmallows. A classic. They extended more to us than we had signed up for- we were just the messengers- but for 10 minutes we stood around chatting like neighbors, about the snow, the latest movies, the typical small talk. And I still remember it. Clearly. Vividly. You should too.
We’re all looking forward to family and friends and being warm and full. Whether you’re in Langley, Ladner, North Vancouver or Winnipeg, please help let everyone enjoy this holiday season.