Making a place for everyone at the table in life

There is absolutely no doubt we are all quite busy getting ready for and into the spirit of Christmas

There is absolutely no doubt we are all quite busy getting ready for and into the spirit of Christmas, which as of today is only 26 sleeps away.

Whether it be shopping, decorating, practising for the annual Christmas pageant, staff party or making those holiday plans to share the joy with family and friends, let’s still take just a little time to reach out to as many people as we can during this most memorable time of the year.

Collection boxes will soon be out for the annual Santa’s Anonymous and Ponoka Food Bank promotions, while countless delightful church, school, and community concerts and special events will be supporting projects and causes where we will all have the joyful opportunity to share and help others to also enjoy a wonderful holiday season. Such fun family events that come to mind are the gala visit of the CPR holiday train on Monday, Dec. 10 at 4 p.m., the annual Kinsmen Carol Festival at the United Church on Dec. 3 and the Family Community Christmas Dinner on Tuesday, Dec. 25 at the Recreation Centre, and there will of course be many others announced along the way.

A few years ago a friend sent me a special email, one with a touching message that reminds us sometimes in our busy day to day journey we have a tendency to sometimes forget or overlook loved ones, long-time friendships, and some of the little things that have been so precious to us. I have never forgotten this touching little story, and I would like to share it with all of you, with sincere hope that it will bring us even closer together, during this festive season, and all year round!

The Wooden Bowl

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson. The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred and his once lively step had faltered. This family ate together at the table as they had done so many happy years in the past but now the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating very difficult. Peas would roll off his spoon onto the floor, and when he grasped his cup, it often spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. “We must do something about father,” his son said. “I’ve had enough of the spilled milk, the noisy eating and the food on the floor.” So the husband and wife set out a small table in the corner and it was there that Grandfather ate alone every day, while the rest of his family enjoyed their meals at the big table. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two in the past, his food was now served in a wooden bowl. When the family glanced in their Grandfather’s direction, he sometimes had a tear in his eye as he sat alone, but still, the only words the couple had for him were occasional sharp scoldings when he dropped a fork or spilled some food on the floor.

All the time during meals the four-year-old son and grandson would sit and watch it all in silence but one evening just before supper, the young father noticed his son playing with some wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, “What are you making?” Just as sweetly, the little boy responded, “Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.” The little four-year-old then smiled and went back to his work.

Those precious words so struck the parents that they were totally speechless, then the tears began to stream down their cheeks. Although no words were spoken, both knew what they had done, and that very same evening the husband took his father’s wrinkled hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every single meal with the family and relaxed in his favourite chair in the living room, and it never mattered what might have spilled.

Here is what I have learned from this message.

• No matter what happens, how bad it seems today, life goes on, and will be better tomorrow.

• I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles four things — a rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights.

• I’ve learned that life sometimes gives us a second chance, to reach out each day and touch someone, and that I still have a whole lot to learn.

• I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same as making a “life.” We should all strive to achieve love, happiness, and success but if we focus on family, friends, work, the needs of others, as well as doing the best we can, our lives will have been blessed, and there will always be a place for everyone at our table.

Have a great week, all of you!