One of my favorite Christmas stories, a true Canadian classic, is Stuart McLean’s story “Dave Cooks the Turkey” (found in the second Vinyl Café collection Home from the Vinyl Café). The impetus for Dave’s culinary adventure is Morley’s desire to help others, and to encourage her children to help others. Dave is left home to cook Christmas dinner while Morley takes Sam and Stephanie out to help at the Food Bank and this sometimes gets lost in the humour of Dave’s adventure. But I think that why Dave was cooking Christmas dinner is as important as what he ended up doing.
With only a few days left until Christmas things are getting more hectic all the time. But, as Christmas approaches, I find myself focusing more and more on the people in my life and in our community who are not consumed by the hustle and bustle of Christmas, the people who, either because they can’t afford the extra expenses at Christmas or because they have no close relations, are left out of the Christmas rush.
It’s always sad when a child is denied Christmas and there are numerous toy drives and collections for hampers for families with children by a variety of charities around the city including the Salvation Army, but it’s not just children and families who need help at Christmas. About a week ago the Prince George Council of Seniors was pleading with the public for donations of non-perishable goods for the 100 hampers they give out to seniors who will be isolated or alone in Prince George this year. And Books & Company has a collection box for the Gift of Hope campaign sponsored by the Canadian Mental Health Association which puts together gifts for over 400 people in Prince George who might not otherwise get a Christmas gift.
And I can’t forget the people who may not be in desperate need, but who may still be alone at Christmas. There are numerous university and college students who may not be able to return to their own families this Christmas either because of expense or geographic remoteness. One of the best Christmases I had, when I was away from my own family, was spent with a good friend from Turkey. It was truly a joy to share my Christmas traditions with her and to experience the seasonal traditions of her culture.
With time and money stretched to the limit at this time of year, it might seem impossible to add one more thing to your list, but consider giving a gift to one of the organizations that help create Christmas for the people in Prince George who are being left out. It doesn’t have to be financial; it could be a gift of your time. Take an hour and offer to help wrap presents for one of the organizations collecting gifts, or call your favorite charity and find out what needs doing, at this time of year I can guarantee an extra set of hands will never be turned down. Or, give the gift of your time and friendship to someone who might be lonely this Christmas: invite a student, or elderly neighbor, acquaintance or friend over for dinner and share the warmth of the season with someone who needs it. I think it would benefit us all to take a page from Stuart’s book and follow Morley’s lead. If you find a way to make some time this year and to give to people who really need it, you’ll experience a new facet of the joy of Christmas.
From all of us here at Books & Co, have a happy holidays and a joyous new year!