Now that the pumpkins have all turned mushy, the great costumes are back in the closet, and most of the treats have been hidden or consumed, that magic transformation to Christmas madness has now begun with great gusto. It will always amaze us how all the shops, streets and windows can change their shelves from costumes and candy to trees, toys, and tinsel in less time than you can say, “Get busy Santa!”
Yours truly did suggest last week that the warm fall would have been an ideal time to put up outside Christmas lights and decorations, and many did, but what really surprised me is that I spied a few spirited families who already had their trees up and sparkling in their front windows. Although I don’t really get caught up in the annual seasonal shopping panic anymore, I always look forward to all the concerts and carolling festivals throughout the community, as well as the church services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that honour the true meaning of this annual festive holiday.
Whatever the case, you will start your jolly festive celebrations at your own speed but let’s make it a family affair, while striving to shop early and avoid that dreaded mid-December stress. But go ahead and have some fun, and along the way please continue to support all those special fund-raising projects such as Santa’s Anonymous, the Ponoka Food Bank, and all the rest that are dedicated to making sure that everyone will be able to have a joyous holiday. You can get a really early start on your Christmas shopping adventure on Friday, Nov. 23 when the annual Almost Midnight Madness promotion hits the streets of Ponoka from 6 to 11 p.m. Along with the usual great specials and prizes in every participating store, I have heard the rumour that dear old Santa might just be popping into town to join the madness and get a few gift hints from those of us who have been really good all year round.
Actual questions asked by Canada Parks tourists
• How do elk know that they’re supposed to cross at those “Elk Crossing” signs. At what elevation does an elk become a moose?
• Are the bears with collars tame? Is there anywhere where I can see the bears pose for pictures? Farewell Halloween; hello Christmas rush And where can I find Alpine Flamingos?
• Is it OK to keep an open bag of bacon on the picnic table or should I store it in my tent?
• Where does Alberta end and Canada begin? Do they search you at the B.C. border, and which way is the Columbia Rice Fields?
• Do they have phones in Banff, and where can I get my husband really, really lost?
• When we enter British Columbia do we have to convert our money to British pounds, and where can I buy a racoon hat because we heard back home that all Canadian have one?
• These are really true by the way, and here is the dumbest question of all, along with a great answer. Tourist: “How do you get your lakes so blue?” Park staff: “We take the water out in the winter and paint the bottom!” Tourist: “Oh!”
A true confession and a second chance
A single Alberta mother with three children had fallen into the horrors of alcohol and drug addiction, her children were taken away and she found herself homeless and out on the streets. Through the devastation she would find courage to reach out for help, which she received, but it would take several years before she became clean, got her children back, went back to work, and moved into a small but comfortable apartment.
Along the way this determined young lady willingly spoke to others who had suffered the same as she had, including the homeless, and even published a book on the perils of addiction. This Thanksgiving she recalled the richness of her life that had come out of her courage to speak out, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and never give up hope, no matter how tough the challenge might be. Many of the same friends who helped this lady through those desperate times recently managed to come up with $1,000 to go toward her small “wish come true” wedding to the young man she had met and fallen in love with shortly after his arrival in Canada.
Her impassioned wedding speech included these heartfelt statements: “It doesn’t matter how much money you have, how important you are, or what kind of car you drive; what really matters is who is sitting around your table, and that you are loved and doing your best with what God has given you.”
Have a great week, all of you!