Christmas is a time of family traditions, be it a certain food for dinner; a family activity; or a gift that gets handed down from generation to generation. Ed Williams remembers Christmas dinners surrounded by strangers and neighbours. His mother would open her doors every Christmas and feed anyone who happened to stop by, whether they needed a warm meal, a jacket, or a friendly hug for the holidays. About eight years ago, due to illness, his mother was unable to continue this tradition. So Ed and his wife Cathy have continued to open their doors and hearts every Christmas; their daughter Sherry baking pies for dessert and other family members pitching in to help. Year after year, out of their three bedroom home they would feed up to 100 people, never asking for anything in return. This year, because of Ed's health issues, Pastor Ken opened up Bethel Church and volunteered his congregation to help Ed accommodate almost 400 people to a 2 pm and a 6 pm seating dinner. Looking at the empty plates and happy faces, dinner was a success.
When asked what he plans to do on Christmas Day this year since his annual dinner is done, he smiled sheepishly and didn't respond. My guess is that he will be up at 6 am to throw some turkeys in the oven and will leave his front door open. Ed will still be carrying on his tradition of a warm meal with the fellowship of his community, gifting his neighbours with love and an open and generous heart.
My son and I ventured out to Clarke Theatre this morning to watch the Legion's annual Remembrance Day Parade and Ceremony. Blustery and cold, we huddled together and my son complained that his fingers were frozen. Watching all the veterans, service workers, first responders, scouts and cadets line up in the cold, I told him to imagine that some of these people go out to their jobs and they still have to do it whether their fingers are frozen or not. They are out there whether it is snowing or sweltering hot. They are out there whether they have to see their colleagues fight for their lives or sacrifice their own.
Today, I am thankful to those who have sacrificed their lives and those who continue to risk it. I am remembering those mothers and fathers who have lost their sons and daughters; remembering those children who have lost their parents; remembering those husbands and wives who have sent out their spouses to war in the battlefields or war on the streets so that we could be here today.
When we think of Halloween, the first thing that comes to mind is candy! And as a parent, I'm a little hesitant to let the kids partake in all that sugar, mostly because of the hyperactivity that ensues and the possible dental bills from the cavities.
But this past Halloween, photographing all the cute and scary costumes in downtown Mission, what I saw was a community that believes in providing a safe and fun environment for little children to get dressed up in. I saw families coming out together sharing memories and laughs and candy. I saw a tradition that I used to love as a child running around with my friends and getting candy from my neighbours.
The sweetness of these moments was my candy this Halloween.