Tonight was the perfect antidote to all that can disappoint and burden at this time of the year.
It was the essence of Christmas, distilled into one magical evening.
In spite of dire weather warnings, some eighty of the people with disabilities supported by Christian Horizons, and their staff, braved the snow and came from a radius of 60 kilometers for our annual Christmas party.
It was not flashy or sophisticated in any way; it was old fashioned, simple, abandoned and unpretentious fun.
There was a contest for the best Christmas craft, and for weeks people worked together in groups, or individually, letting creativity run rampant. There were entries as diverse as a small orange pig to a large and a beautifully decorated large wreath with lights. Every entry won the same prize, a lovely silvery Christmas ornament and was celebrated and applauded for its unique claim to fame.
People brought their instruments and singing voices. They sang and played and were cheered and clapped. A microphone just seems to shed stardust over people.
This year it was impossible to contemplate cooking five turkeys ourselves and making the mounds of instant mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and vegetables that we normally produce for the feast so we did the only sane thing and hired a caterer. What a great success that was! I recommend it heartily.
I was able to give my undivided attention to the people who came with shining eyes and grateful thank you's and hugs. We don't do this for gratitude, but how wonderful it was to know that people came anticipating and left happy and appreciative of the loving efforts put forth to make Christmas meaningful and special for them as a larger "family."
The caterer, Rosemary Hiebert, of Delightfully Delicious! by Rosemary, can be reached at 905 729 2774. She made everything from scratch and her Party Pasta and home made pies with whipped cream were fit for a king. She also thanked us for "letting her" come and said with teary eyes, that the singing had made her cry. I thought then, "We really should sell tickets to this. People have no idea!"
There are several moments that I will cherish in memory. I see faces I love, and people whose lives I have been privileged to share intimately.
One dear lady came to me with a hug that spoke of gratitude and relief. She has had a very difficult few months, being out of touch with everything and experiencing turmoil that I cannot begin to imagine. She said, from her heart,"Thank you Belinda, this has been so wonderful...I had forgotten about this."
I knew what she meant; that this party is real for her; a certain thing; a place of joy. It is a tradition, a ritual that can be counted on; where there is love and laughter and celebration. There is remembering--a looking back, and a looking forward.
As is her ritual at every Christmas party we have, she recited the lovely poem, What Can I Give Him, by Christina Rossetti, from memory. It is the best prayer to end the night with--from our hearts.
“What can I give him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man,
I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give him—Give my heart.”
Christina G. Rossetti