The first sign that this would not be an ordinary Saturday in Dundarave Village came at around 11 am, a sound of jingle bells from what was nothing like a one horse open sleigh. A lone Black Sheep Morrisman stalked down Marine Drive, festooned with a cape of ties from a previous life in office towers, straight for the Red Lion pub. In short order the pub was filled with teams of them -- three teams to be exact. They spilled out onto a street closed to traffic and began a dance that defied the dark and cold wet of winter. At the other corner of the street, to keep things moving in the spirit of Christmas past, Chef Don Guthro and his sweetly efficient collaborators from the Lookout Shelter served up a pulled pork barbeque that had people returning for thirds. Because he is an honest man with a stage presence, he reverently displayed on a soft bed of vegetables the head of the pig he had roasted. He allowed us never to take for granted the origins of our food, to always be grateful for what comes to our table. At the very centre of Dundarave Village, from the Mulgrave choirs to the Red Hot Mammas and Burstin' With Broadway, the light and heat and joy of the Festival came to us in song. This day marked a fundraising milestone for the Festival, launching it with a running total of $20,000 for the North Shore Shelter. Councillor Bill Sprovitch was dead on, as usual, when he observed how vital it is for the health and quality of life of our community for us to keep building it together. We keep the true spirit of the season best when we find new and joyful ways to bring warmth and light and home to the most vulnerable among us. There's bliss in making sure no one is left out in the cold.
Mario Russell (on the right) catches his breath.
It takes a lot of heart to turn out on a Saturday morning after a week of rain storms to move a forest of Christmas trees onto a beach. Nobody seemed to mind the weather, not our burly brothers from the Knights of Columbus, or the First West Vancouver Scouts, or the merry band of students from St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School, or the dauntless Kennedys. As soon as Mario Russell pulled in with his trailer of trees -- a Christmas on wheels from his Valley View Tree Farm -- we set to work fitting them into the holes prepped by Great Canadian Landscaping and Sequoia. (Earlier in the week, one of the landscapers pulled a golden Christmas angel out of a hole she was digging. Watch for it to take its place of glory on the landscapers' tree.) In an hour or so the trees were planted, and Dundarave Beach began to look a lot like Christmas.
Every year at this time, when the trees go into the ground, you get this sense that all will be well. Despite the serious challenges life can throw at all of us, when you've got a circle of friends standing together to face all of it with hope, it becomes clearer that a Christmas miracle is the most natural thing in the world.