There is something we have done for 16 years at SunRidge, over and over, because sixteen years ago we looked at each other around Christmas time and asked, “Do we really need a Christmas Banquet for ourselves?” As we considered what we were putting our effort towards at Christmas we thought about how most of us were well provided for, well fed, and well cared for in a loving community. That was the year we decided our Christmas party wouldn’t be for ourselves.
Every since, we have hosted a Community Christmas Dinner and have filled our building with whoever comes. Our guests may be neighbours from down the street, someone new to West Kelowna, friends we are connecting with at the Westbank United daily Lunch Program, those who may top up their shelves at the Foodbank, strangers we bump into and invite on the spot…its a wonderful collection of people mixed in with our own wonderful community.
Every year we plan out a great meal, decorate the “house” from top to bottom, gather up door prizes, put together gifts for each family, plan fun games that anyone can play, sing songs, and have wonderful and entertaining conversations around the table with new and old friends . We have had many repeat guests — some have come every year! We have celebrated birthdays, given hugs to those who have lost loved ones, staged free portraits for our guests (and their pets), laughed a lot and eaten well. Who comes to serve? Everyone from soft-hearted Senior Citizens to our sweet and spirited students; there are even places for kids to practice loving others.
There are lots of ways to connect with the wider community in big and small ways, and this is just one way. It is one way to say, “No matter how well or how little we know one another, let’s be together and have a lovely time.” It is something we have invited over and over, for sixteen years.
This year our kitchen team cooked up an amazing Ukrainian meal (home-made pirogies, cabbage rolls, meat-balls, orzo salad…). It was a hit!!
Thanks to Lisa K. for being the lead-lead for our 16th Community Christmas Dinner and thank you to all those who worked on this weeks ago, who showed up days ago, who came early and stayed late. Thank you to all of you who looked people in the eye, hosted a conversation, took a photo, brought a cup of tea, sang your hearts out, loaded a dishwasher, swept the floor, and closed the doors at the end.