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.

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.

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!”

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.

At Island Pet Source, we love the holiday season and all of the festive fun that comes with it. Many of our customers are shopping for stocking stuffer gifts this time of year, so we thought we would share some of our personal favourite picks for the holidays!

A fluffy stuffed animal makes a perfect stocking gift for any dog. We love Patchwork Pet and Charming Pet, which both have a wide variety of adorable toys!

Winter holidays can be relaxing; but if you or a loved one has a tendency towards anxiety or depression, can increase during this time of year.

You can imagine the impact on a family when a child has a strong fear of heights. It can mean that the family cannot visit with friends or relatives that live in bigger buildings, or that the family changes locations for holidays to avoid airplanes or hotels with many floors. Keeping a parent close by can ease a child’s fear, but that can result in difficulty when separating to attend school and other activities. The child begins to worry about not having a parent close by to help them manage that fear. As routines and plans change to limit the fearful experiences, the level of concern for the whole family can grow.

No confection represents the holidays quite as well as gingerbread, does it? The term gingerbread describes
both the hard cookie used to make gingerbread houses and the soft, moist loaf cakes. But, before you take your next bite, here some amazing facts about gingerbread you can share with your family and friends during the holiday season.

Ginger and gingerbread have a long and ancient history Ginger, a common spice today, used to be considered a luxury more than 5,000 years ago. The ginger root was first cultivated in ancient China. Both India and China used it as a tonic to treat indigestion and upset stomachs.