The season we call Christmas

I have been in Christmas mode for a while.  At work we tend to start it on the day that the Christmas Kettles go out as we start accepting Christmas Hamper applications around the same day.  Wendy was in decorating the Residential Unit at the Centre (we decorate a couple of days later than everyone else because I think the second week in November is too early).  Once the Christmas season starts, it is full speed ahead until the 25th.

Today I got a Christmas wish answered in that a youth I have been working really closely with and his mom found an apartment and are moving in.  A considerable amount of time and resources have been spent keeping them from having to live on the streets and finding safe, affordable, and stable housing.  I have tracked down some nice furniture, household goods, and food for them.  Now all I have to do is move them over there which isn’t going to be a problem.  It takes a lot of emotional stress off of me.  I told Wendy that I wasn’t going to allow them to be in a shelter or on the street for Christmas and we had even talked of letting them stay at our place but in the end it worked out better for them and through the decency of a landlord, they found a good place to stay.

Tonight we feed 1000 people in one massive sitting as our annual Christmas dinner for the community.  We went through 1000 free tickets in no time this year and it will be interesting to see how many people are there.  I am taking some photos and providing security if anyone is too heavily intoxicated.  After that I am breaking out of there to pick up Christmas kettles with Mark.

Tomorrow is the annual Santa Shuffle.  I am coming in early to help with that and will be taking some photos and video as well.  I was asked by one Salvation Army officer if I was running in it and I joked, “Major Len, does it look like I run in a lot of Santa Shuffles?!” 

After I shuffle around the Centre in the morning, I am going to head over to the Reimer’s for our Christmas meal together.  Mark’s first words were said while over at the Reimer’s at Christmas.  He didn’t say “Mom” or “Dad” but rather his first word was “Tamara” yelled through a roll of wrapping paper.  I doubt Ollie will be saying much but you never know what will happen once the rolls of wrapping paper come out.

Sunday night, Wendy and I are taking over coffee house at the Centre.  We are bringing in a decent CD player and belting out the Christmas music.  Some Tony Bennett, Louis Armstrong, and Frank Sinatra.  No Bony M but there is always next year.

Next Friday night is going to be the staff Christmas party.  We are going bowling this year and somehow I was talked into not only bowling ten pin (which I have never done) but also joining a bowling team with some co-workers in the New Year.  I am not sure how either one of those things happened but they did.  Mark is really looking forward to it.  As he said, “it’s almost as good as Christmas Day!”

Next Saturday is Wendy’s birthday.  I think we are planning to stay in and just enjoy the quiet evening.

On the 17th of December is a major funding announcement for the money we are getting for the Homelessness Partnering Strategy to purchase a women and family shelter in the city.  This date is just penciled in as it has changed 10 times already.  Apparently the Government of Canada has some sort of parliamentary crisis going on.

On the 22nd is Christmas hamper handout day which means that a couple thousand Christmas hampers get handed out to the people of Saskatoon.  This is an really nice day.  Last year I was asked to drive people home as it is too much food to take home on the bus or by walking.  It was insanely cold but people were crying as I was bringing in the boxes to their homes.  I heard some heartbreaking stories and heartwarming thanks that day.  Wendy is coming down this year to volunteer and so do a bunch of staff which makes it a fun day as well.

By that time one would think it was over but after the 22nd, about 100 people call in because they didn’t realize that Christmas was the 25th (that is what they say to us) and need hampers.  We plan for that and give them out.  For the 23rd and part of the 24th, I carry a lot of turkeys and hams to the front of the building.

The morning of the 24th, I am planning our coffee time.  I would normally get Starbucks coffee for this type of situation but everyone at work prefers (no demands) that we get Tim Horton’s coffee.  Even I am starting to prefer Tim Horton’s some days.  The plan is that we will all just relax and unwind and already we are looking forward to it.

The night of the 24th, Lee is coming over and we are having our Christmas that night.  It will be the first time we have ever had Christmas on the 24th.  The Cooper side of the family has historically done it that way but we always waited until Christmas morning.  The reason we are opening is that I am working from 8-4 on the 25th at the Centre. 

I generally only work the desk is someone is sick but the regular day person wanted the day off and so I agreed to work it.  There is non-stop food, movies, and some nice presents for the guys.  Mark is looking forward to working as well and since we are not open to the public, I agreed he could come in for a while.  Since I am only working until 4:00 p.m., we are having some friends over and chilling out that evening.  The next week is what I am looking forward to.  I am on vacation until the new year and you can’t believe how nice that sounds.

I hope your Christmas season is a good one as well.