This year we did something that we’ve talked about for a long time. We volunteered on Christmas Day at a local event bringing people together for Christmas dinner. In fact we helped out Christmas Eve as well. It’s probably one of the best Christmases I’ve had as far as getting in the Christmas spirit.  On Christmas Eve we helped bring over necessary supplies from a storage area, rolled cutlery in serviettes and prepped the upstairs for the big day.

I almost forgot to mention … the location … it was the Carleton Tavern. The coordinators seemed impressed enough with us that we were offered positions for the big day. I was on Maitre D duties and NosyNeighbour was on dessert tray prep. There were a lot of desserts. Apart from the cranberry pecan tarts, gingerbread and shortbread cookies I’d donated, there were loads of desserts donated from local restaurants, grocery stores and bakeries. Local residents also dropped off homebaked goodies.

The tavern’s dinner is really well organized. Each guest is seated, then someone comes by with cold drinks. Then their hot food (turkey, ham, tortiere, mashed potatoes, vegetable medley, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce) is brought to the table. They even had a vegan option donated by a local Indian restaurant! A selection of desserts, plus tea and coffee are also brought around to the tables. But the biggest transformation was the tablecloths. Real ones. Not plastic or paper.

Every guest received a gift from Santa. Some of them would have received a gift card (we donated $140 worth following a fundraising get together). It was amazing to watch how the gift coordinator sized up the guest, then texted upstairs to Santa’s helpers. Teenagers went up and down the stairs all day bringing gift bags with goodies for each guest. There were so many desserts, we started encouraging guests to take a box home with them.

Being a Maitre D allowed me to meet a lot of people. It was really touching to see children’s eyes light up when they saw Mr. and Mrs. Claus, who were beside me near the door for a while. And it was amazing to see people’s faces light up when you smiled, really smiled, and wished them a Merry Christmas. The next time I have to be a subject in the photo studio at school, that’s what I’m going to think about. Because I smiled for my whole shift and didn’t feel fake once.

Ah …  a Christmas to remember for the right reasons. And now on to the neighbourhood updates:

  • if you haven’t seen the window display at Petit Bill’s, go for a walk before it’s taken down. I could stop and stare for hours when it’s plugged in (only when the restaurant is open).
  • I’m tempted to stand at Parkdale and Wellington on January 7 just to see if the owners show up at the cafe that still hasn’t opened even though the “opening soon” sign has been up for about a year. I think there were a few new pieces of furniture so maybe it’s imminent?
  • Bread by Us is now open in Hintonburg. It’s in the same building as the drug store that used to be Carbon Computing that used to be the bingo hall. I took a pic of their sign because it actually posts the time that various baked goods will be ready to buy. Love it!
  • The Hintonburg Market seemed busy, and also capitalizing on the the sandwich board display.
  • and Richard’s Hintonburg Kitchen caught my eye with its menu. I didn’t go in to buy anything because I already had soup going in the crockpot at home. But I did snap a few pics for recipe ideas.
  • A Thing for Chocolate will be opening in January. NosyNeighbour got busted by the owner peaking in the door. It looks nice inside, with a gas fireplace too! The owner came to the door and you could smell the chocolate wafting out of his cup.
  • And over by the Bagel Shop, NosyNeighbour noticed something odd. There was a Christmas tree, and it was decorated with BAGELS! I suppose the birds could eat them too!

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I hope you found some meaning in Christmas if you celebrate it. And I hope you have a healthy and happy new year.