Early Christmas morning in downtown Peachland, you’ll see some lights on at the Legion. Between 6 and 7 or so in the morning, four turkeys will go in the ovens. And over the next few hours, side dishes, to-go containers and gifts will be assembled. And there will be Christmas music, for sure, says Nikki Montgomery. She’s the Legion’s branch manager, and this year, they’ve teamed up with the Wellness Centre to make sure there’s one important Peachland tradition that won’t be cancelled – serving dinner on the 25th to those who live alone or would normally go without.
There’s a set number of volunteers for distancing, of course. And no one will actually be enjoying their meal at the Legion. This year, it’s all getting cooked, packed up and then delivered to people’s homes.
“The first crew will be here for a few hours before the second cooking crew comes in,” says Montgomery of the Christmas Day plan.
“And then there’s a serving crew. We’ll have our long banquet tables spread out in the dart / lounge area, for them to do all the prepping for the to-go boxes and all that stuff.”
The carefully-wrapped meals will then be delivered by volunteers to people’s homes.
Peachland Rotarians generously donated gifts to go with each dinner, and really, the the whole day is only possible because of local volunteers and businesspeople, says the Wellness Centre’s Christina MacMaster.
“It’s definitely a feel-good story,” she says. This is the seventh year the Wellness Centre has planned this, and it’s only grown.
“This year, we approached the Legion because they have the kitchen space and they said ‘yes, let’s do it here. We’ll make it happen.’”
Montgomery doesn’t mind spending the 25th at work. While her partner is home making their turkey, she says she’ll help out the cooking crew as needed, and maybe sneak in a FaceTime call with her family.
“I’m not able to go home and see them, but we have a traditional family breakfast we do every Christmas morning, it’s the most important of my family traditions so I’ll be on the iPad doing a FaceTime call at some point,” she says.
The Rotary’s Wendy Howard says they were happy to help out with the gifts.
“We gathered almost 25 gifts between us,” she says.
“Lots of people have been getting together to support our community, and that’s what it’s all about, especially at Christmas. It’s about giving and everybody enjoys doing that.”
A couple things to listen and watch out for on Christmas Eve:
You may have heard about Ring a Bell for Santa. This inspired our very own Town Crier Bruce Klippenstein to do something special for Peachland’s kids, at 6 p.m.
“A town crier in England had the idea for everyone to ring a bell for Santa at the same time and so he started this page and all of a sudden it just took off on him,” he says.
“Kids have had a tough time this year and they haven’t been able to do the stuff they usually do or play with kids they usually play with. Maybe they’ve been in school or out of school and they’ve been disrupted, anyway. So this is something positive to get them thinking about good things about Santa and Christmas – and that’s where the idea came from.”
Klippenstein – I mean, Mr. Town Crier, says he and Mrs. Town Crier (LindaLea), will be at the Ho Ho Ho sign across from Bliss at 6 p.m. ringing a bell and proclaiming that Christmas, for the kids, will prevail. They of course, are not inviting anyone to join them, but to ring their own bells at home instead.
Peachland Fire Department’s annual tradition of driving a decorated truck around town is still on – barring, of course, any last-minute health orders or emergency calls, says Chief Dennis Craig.
“We do our best every year and our members take great pride in it,” he wrote in an email earlier this week.
One of my last phone calls before Christmas was to Mayor Cindy Fortin. She appreciates what local groups have done to put on the annual dinner on the 25th, and wants to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.
“Peachlanders should be very proud of how they’ve managed through 2020,” she says.
“It’s been an extraordinarily difficult year. Usually it’s floods and fires but who knew at the beginning of January what we’d be faced with this year. But everyone has been so kind and helpful to one another and I just wish the best for everyone.”
I should also add here that it goes without saying our local food bank is busy. If you need help or want info on how to help, contact Judy Bedford at (250) 862-4597 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ok, last thing: Remember the Light Up Virtual Gala that was held on Dec. 4? I touched base with co-organizer Rick Ingram a couple weeks ago. With 144 tickets sold, plus what came in from donations, the silent auction and local restaurants, the Peachland Recovery Task Force was able to raise just over $12,400 (after expenses and everything else was calculated). Four local groups were chosen beforehand to receive the funds, and later today, there will be one of those grip-and-grin (under a mask) cheque presentations.
“Our Allocation Committee has decided that the breakdown among the groups will be 40% to the Boys & Girls Club, 30% to the Peachland Wellness Centre, and 15% to each of BEEPS and the Peachland Sportsmen’s Association,” Ingram said.
And Merry Christmas to you all. Subscribers, watch your email later today for a thank you + quick message on my plans for 2021. And to everyone who took the time over the past nine months to read my blogs and community stories, like a post or leave a comment, I appreciate you a lot! Have a cozy, safe Christmas, Peachland! ❤️ 🍑