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A Long, Long, Meaningful Christmas Day – With Complete Strangers (almost). And, a Christmas Day That Kept Repeating Itself

Dec. 24, 2019 – Christmas Eve – we went to a 9:00 p.m. church service. We were scheduled to fly to Victoria the next day, but as we left the church, we were informed that a snow storm was brewing. We rushed home – threw our suitcases in the car and headed for Saskatoon. 

At five minutes after midnight, with Christmas day just beginning, we pulled in front of a Saskatoon hotel – hoping that there would be a room in the Inn for us. 

A most welcoming front desk clerk wished us a warm Merry Christmas, and said there certainly was a room for us. When we asked where we might acquire a bite to eat at this ‘late or perhaps early hour’ the clerk rushed away for a moment only to return with some salad, and cookies that his wife had prepared for him. He insisted we accept and even provided us with a free beverage. Wow – talk about ‘the spirit of Christmas.’

We went to sleep with visions of that clerk’s cookies and graciousness dancing in our heads.

 Later, on that snowy Christmas day, after leaving our car parked at our friendly hotel, we enjoyed a quick taxi trip to the airport with the driver wishing us safe travel and a warm visit with our relatives in Victoria, as he too was eagerly looking forward to a Christmas feast with his own family. 

Cheery and most helpful airline attendants checked our baggage and sent us through security, where seemingly stern agents also wished us Merry Christmas, and sent us to our departure gate.

Here we met another smiling, joyful, attendant, and a senior couple who, we found out, were relatives of Billy Hicke, a hockey great with the Montreal Canadians and a schooldays friend of mine. We spent time swapping stories about Billy. Our gate attendant chimed in that she was related to the famous hockey legend Eddie Shore. Well, we left to board our plane full of good old Saskatchewan hockey trivia and waving a big Christmas goodbye to new found friends,

Fay and I had not been able to get adjoining seats on the surprisingly crowded plane. My seat companion revealed to me that he was of Metis heritage and was born in Uranium City. In fact he knew a few of the students that I had taught at Carlton High School when they moved to P.A. from northern communities. I was a bit professionally embarrassed when I related a humorous incident, without naming names, about one of those students, only to have my seat companion quickly, with a solid chuckle, correctly identify the student. 

 During our talk my companion became aware that Fay was on the plane. He insisted that he and she swap seats – another unexpected Christmas present.

Our plane had a scheduled layover in Edmonton. However, due to weather, we were late into Edmonton. Fay mentioned to the lady across the aisle that we had hoped to get a coffee, before re-boarding, but time might not allow. The lady was accompanied on the plane by a ‘service dog.’ She was allowed to exit the plane first. When Fay and I rushed to our next departure gate in Edmonton, there was the lady waiting with two coffees. ( Merry Christmas again)

On our next flight a gentleman sat in front of us. He was wearing a unique Santa hat – it had Santa’s legs sticking up out of the hat – the impression was Santa stuck in the chimney having gone down head first. The man brought smiles to everyone seated near him. And he bore many good natured jokes about the hat with many a warm chuckle. 

Finally, about eight o’clock Christmas day we arrived in Victoria, tired, but filled with the warmth of a Christmas spent with many strangers – strangers who were now reminders of the wonderful meaning of Christmas.

If our Christmas was meaningful, it fades in comparison with the celebration that must have been held by a Prince Albert family I recently found out about. The family of Theresa Brassard.

Theresa was born on Christmas day, 1926. Her daughter Linda Brassard was born on Christmas Day, 1948. Theresa’s grandson Brent Brassard was born on Christmas day, 1978. Theresa’s great granddaughter Jenna was born on Christmas Day, 1995.  

Christmas is a time when we share through gifts, the joy and wonder of ‘new life’. As they gather to celebrate each Christmas, the Brassard relatives witness that joy and wonder right there before them.

I truly hope that that joy and wonder were there for you and yours this past Christmas.

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Wednesday January 12, 2022