Local groups rethink holiday gatherings

Christmas dinners are still on the menu for some groups

Overheard at the drugstore: “I hope we have a Christmas this year.” 

Rest assured, Christmas will still happen, but with new twists. Churches, community leagues, and groups such as Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society are getting creative on how to connect. 

“The holidays can be a tricky time for people,” observes Sarah De Lano, program director for Parkdale Cromdale Community League. “In spite of restrictions, we want to do something for families and individuals.” 

The league’s holiday-themed dinner is usually its biggest annual gathering. This year, the league is taking inspiration from the success of its drive-by Halloween party. “We had DJ music, gave out goodies, and received donations to Edmonton’s Food Bank.” Organizers gave participants take-home activities. Participants emailed photos of their activities to the league to win a prize. 

Rector Travis Enright and volunteers at St. Faith’s Anglican Church will serve a festive feast on Dec. 18. Left to right: Rector Travis Enright, Marney Mustard, Kim Aperocho, Joyce Taylor, Gary Goulet, Ellen Stuart, Sharon M. Whitford. | Constance Brissenden

“It’s early, but we have some ideas,” says De Lano. 

Two annual events are still a go. “We’re running our Christmas lights contest again. Lights are a nice way to uplift the community. And it’s likely we will continue carolling. Look for us!”

Churches are also making plans. 

Gail Wichert is the administrative assistant at Highlands United Church. She sighs when she says, “We were planning a Christmas Eve service to be held outside, transforming into a community block party. But the City of Edmonton said ‘No’ due to COVID. Instead, we’re donating money to the Bissell Centre to provide meals.” An online Christmas Eve service will share good feelings.

The generosity of holiday community activities is more than just a plate of tasty food. A seasonal community dinner is a place to share warmth and companionship and to have a little fun. 

St. Faith’s Anglican Church PrayerWorks community meals will celebrate Christmas on Dec. 18, from 11 am to 2 pm.

“As we move to take-away meals in December, we will have a delicious take-away Christmas lunch available with hot drinks to go and lots of good cheer,” says coordinator Jennifer Stewart. AHS health and safety guidelines will be in place. All are welcome. St. Faith’s is located at 11725 93 St.

At Parkdale Cromdale Community League, Sabine Schmelz and Sophie De Lano prepared holiday gifts last year: cookie-making kits with reusable containers. | Supplied

In the past, the Christmas dinner at Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society has been a memorable family gathering. This year, COVID-19 has silenced the festive supper. 

All is not lost, says Sophie Laboucan, program facilitator and outreach worker for Bent Arrow’s Pehonan Elders Program. Seniors will not be forgotten. “We’ll be delivering Christmas bags of goodies to the Elders so they won’t have to go outside in winter weather,” she says. 

Once the pandemic hit, the number of registered Elders rose and now surpasses 200.

“These are the ones we want to reach, first and foremost. Seniors are often isolated and limited in their ability to travel. We want to do something special for them.”

Advice to all: watch for more holiday plans for community members as Christmas approaches.


HOLIDAY EVENTS

St. Faith’s PrayerWorks

11725 93 St

Friday, Dec. 18 from 11 am to 2 pm


Featured Image: Parkdale Cromdale’s holiday-themed dinner from a previous year. This year, the league will have different plans to stay festive. | Supplied

Constance Brissenden
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2 thoughts on “Local groups rethink holiday gatherings”

  1. Could you please tell your delivery people if your mailbox says no junk mail that means no junk mail stop leaving your newspaper in my freaking mailbox is

    1. The RCP is delivered by Canada Post. Community newspapers are exempt from the no unaddressed mail. You could try putting a notice on your mailbox saying “No Rat Creek Press”. Or simply recycle it or reuse the newspaper for something. It is full of great community stories and local important. You could try flipping through it.

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