Today’s guest post comes from Barbara Tomporowski, for the 2017 Giftmas blog tour. Donations and raffle entry below!
Writing this Christmas blog post made me consider some difficult questions. Editor Rhonda Parrish, who organizes the annual Giftmas campaign to support the Edmonton Food Bank, chose “shine a light” as this year’s theme. She also asked each writer to consider “why I give” and “what I celebrate”, as well as “no capes!” to honour the people who quietly do things for us. At first, these questions seemed unrelated. What does “shine a light” mean during Christmas in Canada? Why do I give, both to this campaign, and to other causes? And what have other people, those with “no capes”, given to me?
My first experience of giving came from life on a farm. My parents raised cows, pigs, and chickens. They grew wheat to sell, potatoes to eat, and flowers for their beauty. The barn cats and farm dogs were working animals who kept either mice and rats or foxes and coyotes away. My parents worked from sun up to sun down—literally—to run the farm and send us to school. Christmas Eve was a time of joy and respite, with carols in a small town church and frosted, incandescent lights glowing on the tree. My parents didn’t have a lot of money, but my brothers and I had full stockings to keep us occupied at dawn on Christmas morning, one major gift each when my parents got up to open the presents, and a turkey supper to end the day.
None of the activities on the farm, whether raising beef, milking cows, getting a crop off the land, or producing Christmas dinner, were individual efforts. My dad farmed with his father, his uncles, and a network of families who were either related, or who had worked together for so long they might as well have been. The men helped with the harvest, and the women gathered to cook for family, church, and community events. They even came together to clean and bag the turkeys that filled our freezers. Looking back, those years on the farm are my earliest memories about the ethic of work, the challenges and benefits of working together, and the importance of family and community.
As I grew up, I helped my mother make Christmas supper, and assisted my dad with decorating the tree. After I had children and my parents became too ill to drag the tree from the basement or heave a turkey into the oven, my partner and I did it. Now I am thankful for every year my mom and dad are still able to thread a wire through an ornament and hang it on a bough. In my home, we take what my colleagues would call “a collaborative approach” to decorating: my friends put up the exterior lights, my daughter sets up the Victorian village, my son cracks jokes and drinks the eggnog, and I cajole anyone who happens to be there into trimming the tree.
The theme of doing something together permeates our holiday. One of the things I appreciate most about Christmas is how my friend, Doug Smith, hosts an annual two-day party. Doug provides the space, lets my friends and I stay in his house overnight, places a Christmas tree in every room, and organizes the group gifts, where we pool our funds to buy each person something special. People pitch in by selecting the presents, bringing food, and preparing Doug’s house for company. True friendship is cleaning someone else’s bathroom, and the true spirit of giving is to volunteer, and then to do what you offer without complaint.
Someone I respect greatly told me that Saskatchewan people used to pool their resources for a regional doctor who served several communities. That spirit of coming together to support the common good is one of the things I love about my colleagues, my fellow volunteers, and this country. In that spirit, I ask you to consider supporting one of the many worthy causes that assist our families and community members. If not the Edmonton Food Bank, it might be your local food bank, a homeless shelter, or a transition house. Let’s shine a light on poverty, homelessness, and violence. Or you might be in a position to give your time or skills instead of money. Chip the ice off a sidewalk for an elderly or disabled neighbour. Offer to babysit for the single parent or new Canadians next door. Better yet, invite them for supper. This Christmas, let’s be part of something bigger.
This Giftmas Blog Tour supports the Edmonton Food Bank. To donate: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/giftmas-blog-tour-2017-supports-the-edmonton-food-/
Everyone who donates will have a chance to receive a great reward. Check out the rewards on Rafflecopter at http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/bc98f9ba13/?
For more Giftmas blog posts, check outhttp://rhondaparrish.com/giftmas-blog-tour-2017/