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The Humble Traditions of Christmas in Elgin County by John E. Montgomery

Posted Jan 11 2010 5:45am
      A Christmas song reminds us that Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year” but it may not be the most wonderful time of the year for everyone. Christmas time has had a tradition of recognizing that strangers and newcomers have needs that sometimes are not being met. Just over 2000 years ago an Innkeeper in Bethlehem, not knowing the Holy Family, allowed them to use his stable when all the rooms of his inn were full. Santa Claus is given treats beside the chimney during the one night he makes his angel like trip around the world. But what can we do besides remembering these endearing figures? There are many strangers and newcomers who may be in need of our help. They provide us with opportunities to offer ‘good cheer’.
      The Canadian Mental Health Association’s (CMHA) Christmas party is an important opportunity for many to show the value we place in offering ‘good cheer’ to those who are challenged by a mental illness. In 2009, CMHA’s Christmas party was held the first Friday in December at the Legion Hall in St. Thomas, Ontario. Clients from all over Elgin County attended. They were entertained by Christmas music provided by a DJ, someone reading a poem they composed about Christmas, while I was asked to pray and ask for God’s blessing on the lives of our clients and the Christmas dinner we shared. Often local businesses and schools donate food items for this event. The main course is covered through money donations and fundraising. CMHA’s Christmas party continues a tradition that started with the Nativity. The Christ child came into the lives of a simple and humble people to bring deliverance but also to provide good cheer to those who were strangers or living on the margins. If you would like to donate to CMHA’s Christmas dinner in 2010 please call Heather DeBruyn Executive Director of CMHA, at 519-633-1781.
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