A Very Nesty Christmas - Friday, December 3, 2010 "Gifts of Time & Love"

"Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas."  
~ Peg Bracken.
Earlier this week I posted about ways to have a heartfelt Christmas.  I invited you to share in the comments how you have made, or plan to make, your holiday meaningful in a way that transcends shopping and fuss.  One story in particular was submitted by a friend of mine about her and her family's tradition of bringing a touch of Christmas light to one of the darker places in our province; Vancouver's Downtown Lower East Side.  Here is her recollection in her own words:

After my father passed away, my mother didn't feel much like doing the same big family dinners, because she felt they would be too painful. She came up with an idea one year and it became a tradition until I moved up north. On Christmas Eve we would spend hours assembling hundreds of sandwiches (peanut butter, cheese, tuna, ham, and turkey). On Christmas morning we would drive into the downtown east side of Vancouver to an area called Pigeon Square, and unload the flats of sandwiches. This is an area of Vancouver that many won't even drive through. These were the people that society had completely forgotten, and most feared. In the end, they are humans, and they are hungry, and for the most part, completely alone. One minute there on Christmas morning, and you will never take your family for granted again.

The tradition grew, and in the last two years before I moved away, I began collecting from co-workers who wanted to contribute. People gave flats of juice boxes, flats of crackers and cheese snack packs. In the final year, people started giving us clothes (socks, shoes, mittens, wool hats). It grew to a car load, and my fiance, mother, and my self were a little overwhelmed. The last year I was there, we had noticed something amazing. Our little idea had caught on, perhaps, or maybe it had occurred to someone else too. As we were unloading the last of the food, a tent was being set up, and one of the locally owned restaurants was setting up a huge day long free food venue. People didn't need to leave their possession un-guarded, they could eat with their dog beside them, and they didn't have to worry about the stigma some felt from the Mission soup kitchen down the street (as explained to us by a few every year). As far as I know, they have kept that tradition going on Christmas day.

As I walked past our food bank here (Kitimat) last week. My heart stung a bit. I want to do something here too.

Vanessa, thank you to you and your family for such a kind, selfless act, and for inspiring others to do the same.  And of course, thank you for sharing your memory with us!

Have a wonderful weekend! Are you decorating, baking, or shopping for gifts?  I'm going to be doing a little of everything, I think!  See you on Monday!

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