DEC 2018 Archive HOME > DEC 2018

Santa has always been big in my life. Born in early December, I convinced myself that the Christmas tree was set up specifically to celebrate my birthday— another ritual like candles and a birthday cake! So, I went to this Santa interview, older and wiser, with a sort of ‘you can’t fool me’ grin on my face. I left, after an hour and a half, tears in my eyes, a reindeer bell, and a much younger heart! Santa really does understand what the spirit of this holiday season is all about. Or any season, really.

In the Victorian era (1837-1901), mourning jewelry was a common way to memorialize a loved one. The fashion was popularized by Queen Victoria, who was so devastated by her husband Prince Albert’s death, that she wore mourning clothes for the remainder of her life.

Queen Victoria favoured jet mourning jewelry, which was deep black – a representation of grief – and quite expensive, so it did double-duty as a status symbol for widows. Victorian mourning jewelry took the form of bracelets, necklaces, and rings made from woven hair of the deceased. Lockets and cameos, featuring the loved one’s portrait, were another way to remember someone.

Knowing that there is a spirit of benevolence and generosity operating in our community goes a long way to helping us love our home town that much more—regardless of whether it’s the holiday season or not! All of us on the West Shore can be proud of the local efforts being made to help others manage and enjoy this year’s holiday festivities.

On December 13, ‘Christmas with Sinatra’, a holiday concert featuring the music of legendary crooner, Frank Sinatra, is coming to town.

Award-winning, international producer, Tony James was born and raised in Victoria and this limited engagement is the first performance of a 3-city tour on Vancouver Island under the new company—Renee James Productions.

When I spoke to Tony about his early influences last month, it came as no surprise that he credits his jump start into acting and production work to his supportive musical family, his early theatrical experiences in Victoria and his schools, Macaulay Elementary and Esquimalt Secondary.

Last year, my annual ritual to decorate a Christmas tree with ceramic bird ornaments took a different twist. I decided to recycle my tree outdoors and string it with homemade, edible decorations to provide healthy winter food for my feathered friends.

The idea of giving the Christmas tree back to Mother Nature just seemed to make sense as my back yard is always a hive of activity for birds and other wildlife. In winter, woodpeckers, blue jays, cardinals and black-capped chickadees are constant visitors.

No matter which set of holidays you celebrate—or not—at this time of year, what makes it a special time is how it feels like everyone is making a collective effort in the final weeks of December to slow down and spend
a few days in the company of people they love. It’s a reflective time, wistful and sentimental. A time when nostalgia bubbles up from Christmases past.

Except for many people, and for any number of reasons, the “most wonderful time of the year” represents none of these things. So, it was with this reality in mind that our December issue shines a bright light on the relatively invisible, and often unacknowledged, spirit of generosity in our community; specifically, the generosity of West Shore businesses and organizations. I sent out over 150 emails to ask various companies what they do to help others and where they perceive the need is the greatest at this time of year.

As the weather gets colder and thoughts turn to Christmas parties and time off work with family, Shamrocks’ Head Coach Bob Heyes, Captain Matt Yager and top goal scorer, Rhys Duch, talk about what the holidays mean to the.

Bob Heyes: “The last few years we have taken in a play at Chemainus Theatre— which I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy at the time— but, now look forward to every year. We rotate having a big Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. Then Christmas morning is visiting family around Victoria and upisland. It is always about family with lots of storytelling, memories, and great food. I also look forward to the World Junior Hockey Tournament starting on Boxing Day; maybe Santa Claus will find me a couple of tickets for a game in Victoria this year!”

Do you remember when you were a kid or when you had a young family—the excitement of Christmas? The shopping, the presents, the meals, baking goodies, decorating, the laughter and all the fun! The holidays were a time when families gathered together to celebrate.

But, for many seniors, it can be a time of loneliness and despair. Those seniors who are unable to drive or don’t have family or friends to help them or visit them, see a very different version of “holiday cheer.” They have an ever-decreasing circle of friends. Most other people don’t understand their situation or feelings. Seniors often avoid venturing outside in inclement weather for fear of falling. They can begin to feel unwanted, not included, unimportant and unloved.

Gingerbread is one of those seasonal treats that we rarely see outside of the holidays; yet it can be utilized for so many entertaining, engaging and creative activities for all ages all year round. The beauty of this tasty building material is in the infinite number of shapes and engineering marvels you can construct with it.

No matter how many of these enormously gratifying projects I undertake, I always get halfway through and realize my intent far surpasses my abilities or time. My advice to you is to start small and work your way up. As with so many things in life, planning is the key to success.