By Jenn Watt
Published Dec. 19, 2017
This is our last newspaper before Christmas and includes our annual Season’s Greetings special section. Each year, we assemble this supplement trying to capture some of what makes the holidays special both locally and in a wider sense.
For many, Christmas is most strongly felt in a spiritual way. For others, it is more symbolic or cultural than strictly religious. And there are many who do not celebrate this holiday, marking other occasions as sacred or special. Over the years, we’ve written articles about all of these aspects.
What is present each year during the holidays is an outpouring of love and caring.
Local restaurants host free dinners, opening their doors to anyone who might need some warmth and friendship. Charities take the opportunity to rally donors, who in turn use their own strong feelings of compassion to help. The food banks organize Christmas baskets and toy giveaways. The firefighters and police officers give their time to collect items at the local grocery stores. The list goes on.
For one of our stories this year, I sat down with four women living in two of our county’s long-term care facilities to talk to them about their Christmas memories from the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s.
These women recounted the holidays of their childhood, typically a time of intense austerity as most of them grew up in the Great Depression, as some of the most joyous times of their lives.
They remembered being tucked into bed by their parents, waking up to a special something under the Christmas tree, making plum pudding with their grandmother or singing Here Comes Santa Claus with a beloved sibling.
They remembered dancing and singing, love and happiness.
One woman said Christmas for her was a time to open the doors to her home to welcome a stranger - someone who was down on their luck or looking for a kind face. She observed this tradition during the holidays especially because it was a time to reaffirm the tenets of her faith and demonstrate the importance of caring for one’s neighbour.
While the holidays mean different things to each of us, our various traditions tend to focus on the best humanity has to offer – being generous, loving, kind and welcoming. Doing things for others, giving of ourselves and remembering to enjoy the incredible good fortune we all have to be alive and in the presence of one another.