El Nino Christmas

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The El Nino Christmas of 1997

Christmas is about togetherness, so get off the phone.

Sounds of silent night vibrating the eardrums, the delightful aroma of Christmas dinner in the air, you can almost taste the turkey, an overly decorated pine tree, must be Christmas time.

Coming from a humongous family, there was never a lack of presents under the tree.

I feel very grateful for the family I was given.

I’ll be the first to tell you, yes, I was very spoiled during the holidays, and beyond, for that matter.

It was one of those rare, El Niño, winter Christmas mornings. El Nino occurs when the warm southern winds blow in from the Pacific Ocean, heating the earth’s surface.

I was ten years old; it was our first Christmas in Eckville. Due to the excitement of Santa stopping by, I was always the first one up.

This specific morning, my cousin and I thought it would be a funny joke to put coal in my seven-year-old brother’s stocking.

We took a lump from the fireplace and planted it inside his red sock. To our surprise, it quickly backfired, as he thought it was hilarious (he must have thought it was meant for mine).

After we took turns opening gifts, dad put on the sprinkler outside, we kids (and some adults) took turns running through the spraying water. It just goes to show how warm the weather was that day. Some people even went golfing that day.

As I grew up, my feelings of Christmas and selfishness would start to dissipate. Buying gifts for others became just as important as receiving them.

Then, my maturity taught me the value of giving, which overthrew the need for receiving. And finally, it wasn’t until last year did I fully grasp the satisfaction of giving back.

Together, we sponsored a single mother with two young kids, six and eight, through the women’s outreach in Red Deer with my brother and sister. We got the kids everything on their shortlists and gift certificates for the mother to feed her family.

If there is poverty happening here in Alberta, I will do what I can to help my fellow man. Doing small things can make a big difference within those who have nothing. That’s what I feel Christmas is all about. So peace and have a Merry Christmas.


Dean Mathers


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