Christmas Cards of Love

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” Wanna switch places? There’s more Christmas cards for a spouse over on my side.”

The diminutive man next to me looked up solemnly.482596_436459866431884_1818825136_n He began telling me about his ailing wife, who was unable to walk anymore, and was nearly blind.

He’d once navigated from log to log working on the Fraser River before finally becoming a fireman. Now this once muscular hard-working man tenderly navigated his wife throughout their house.  

After a lengthy conversation, I headed off to finish shopping. Turning back to smile at him, I watched him reach for yet another Christmas card.  

This elderly gentleman incarnates the spirit of Christmas evident in West Jet’s 2013’s heart warming youtube video that went viral. West Jet’s Christmas videos,including 20142015, 2016  are all examples of good will and generosity, essentially the spirit of Christmas.

When I passed the card rack half an hour later, he was still reading card after card.

I stopped immediately when I saw tears glistening on his wizened face.

537750_387474191341295_903780686_nHe solemnly glanced up at me, and as one, we reached out to embrace.

“It’s so hard to find the perfect one. To tell her just how special she is to me.”

This 92-year-old man was reading every card,

Every single card,

To find just the right one to give his wife-

His wife of 66 years.

His story won’t be a YouTube video.

His story won’t be full of surprise.

His story won’t be highlighted globally.

384155_428580197178250_1510214724_nYet, this aging gentleman embodies the spirit of Christmas.

His story is an enduring and endearing celebration of everlasting love.

He is the perfect card.

Merry Christmas.  

 

 

 

Christmas Music, Singing and Warm Wishes

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1466053_662468087126261_764788810_nWhile decorated with tinsel, lights and a minimally ornamented tree, the community centre’s immense cement gymnasium was void of festive spirit. Located in a poor area of town, the center was holding their obligatory outreach Christmas party that was exactly that- obligatory.

All the boxes were check off: sufficient if uninspired food, couple of children’s games, and before everyone goes home, Santa with his pack of donated gifts. Merchants provided these unwrapped gifts, frequently toys that did not sell well and could be written off as a charity donation. The staff plastered on smiles but the plain white thin paper plates, white napkins and flimsy forks were symbolic of no one’s care to purchase more expensive festive settings.

Half of the immense gym was left empty, cornered off for restless children to release their excess energy. Having eaten their meager portion of sandwiches sitting at white butcher paper covered tables – no turkey dinner here- they were awaiting Santa’s arrival. Until then, there was little to do as their parents ate their allotted sugar cookies and sips of weak coffee.

Several times children barely missed skidding into a large keyboard. It sat on the gym floor beneath the overhead basketball hoop unprotected by an elevated stage, and surrounded by large speakers and several taped down cables. After a running child tripped over a floor cable and smashed their face into the hardwood floor a staff member monitored the area.

184588_575400499140216_938699965_nAmidst this din of noisy adults talking and screaming children, a nine-year boy stepped, holding a guitar as he approached the keyboard. As he began to strum, ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, his eight year old brother stepped up to the keyboard. Even when they started singing, no one paid them any attention.

His head set solitary microphone failed to sufficiently magnify his voice, the music smothered by the vacant space of the gym’s forty foot high ceiling.

Clearly they weren’t handing out presents, and the children only wanted Santa. Parents looked, but they only wanted to hurry home with toy ladened children.

The determined young boys continued with traditional carols like Silent Night, maintaining their entertainment composure faced with this uninterested audience.

One young curious child finally passed by close enough hear them. At last, the boys had an audience. They poured their performance into this solitary listener. Before long, a crowd of children stood in front of them.

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Shifting from Christmas traditional tunes, they explained they were going to do a guessing game of: What is this song?

The first beginning bars  were not notes but a sound:

Thum-pa- ty thump thump,

Thumpty, thump thump

And all the children sang out :

Look at Frosty go!

The growing crowd of children sat on the floor in a semi- circle.

The young guitarist stood within this captivated circle of upturned sparkling eyes, moving from classic children’s songs to Christmas songs.

The children listened and laughed, when one after another they guessed each successive tune.

With a quick look to his partner, the keyboard chords shifted, and he began to sing the most famous song of all:

Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose, and if you ever saw it, you would say it glows.”

Like a light bulb“, pipped up a perky voice from the keyboard.

The children were entranced by their ongoing parody.

The din of talking adults declined.

As these young entertainers headed into their final songs of Deck the Halls and We wish you a Merry Christmas the well-engaged crowd sang along with enthusiasm.

 

With an ever so slight bow , the young entertainers moved quickly away from the keyboard, passing along the gym wall where well wishers greeted them with smiling faces.

I forced myself not  embarrass those boys by hugging them as they went by me.

I was so proud of my sons.

We’s been preparing for Christmas events like this one since November 1.

Hours of rehearsal in our small living room had not prepared them for the dreary unforgiving gym nor the insulting ignoring crowd. And yet, they had kept going, pushing passed the closed barrier of indifference until one child was reached.

15337424_10154835263943724_9000117331024435796_n-1That community centre was just one of several places we’d arranged for them to play. But, it will always remain the one I most fondly recall.

For me, each year, I listen and sing along to that simple song Frosty the Snowman to start my Christmas spirit. It reminds me that bringing joyful warm wishes during the Christmas season really is simple.

It simply requires an act of determination to create the Spirit of Christmas, anywhere.

 

 

Christmas Kindness

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The crisp later night December air ached in my labouring lungs.

“Hurry up, Mom.

Mom.

Faster.

Mom!”

At his rapid pace, my eight-year-old son would be the first to reach the store.

Which was likely a good thing as the owner had said, “Be here in 10 or I’m gone.”

I couldn’t blame him.

It was late afternoon Christmas Eve.

“Mom, come on.”

He’s outside the store door!

I’m running ahead.”

At 4:30 pm, I’d opened my oven to cook the pumpkin pie for Christmas Day, only to witness the aftermath of a white glow left in the wake of a dying oven coil.

There’d be no pie on Christmas Day.

Wait, there’d be no turkey.


“No turkey?” groaned my mother.

Living alone, my mom looked forward not only to Christmas turkey dinner but to taking home a three day feasting of turkey and dressing afterwards.

My son’s first natural response to this crisis was, “Call Dad!”

But, driving our only car, he’d just arrived for his afternoon work shift.

As we all glumly reflected on Christmas without all the food trimmings, my ever-helpful son began jumping up and down with excitement.

“Mom, there’s oven stuff, right beside the bakery.”

Undoubtedly, any appliance store would already be closed, wouldn’t it?

Who’d work late on Christmas Eve?

Quickly scanning the yellow pages, I dialed the number and was ecstatic when someone answered.

“Yes, honey, I am leaving, right now!”

When he realized I wasn’t his wife, he informed me he was closed. I rushed in with my wretched tale before he could hang up.

“Okay, then, but be here in 10 or I’m gone.”

Ten minutes? Only 10 minutes to reach a store eight long blocks away.

It was too dark and dangerous to run alone. So, as I reached for my warm coat, gloves and running shoes, my young son simultaneously did the same.

As I ran, I was only too aware of the lack of streetlights in my area. No such worries filled my son’s head. We were on an adventure!

Panting hard, I finally reached the store’s door as the owner stood outside. Key ready to lock his door, he stood there, obviously bemused by my son ‘s insistence that he wait. The owner stared at me for a few moments before asking, “You the lady that called? “ Still struggling to regain my breath, I nodded.

154622_499571606730242_1012477313_nShaking his head, he said, “I’d have dropped it off for you if you’d told me you had no car. Let’s get your oven coil, and get you two home.”

That Christmas Day, we satisfied our appetites with a cooked turkey, with all the trimmings.

Thanks in no small part to a compassionate man who embodied the Christmas spirit of gifting good will to all.

(Photos from FB page, I love Christmas  )