JOANNE KUHARSKI I was not born in Alberta (I came from a small farming community in Manitoba), but I have called Red Deer home for the past 9 years and I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be.
Sure we get some cold days in winter – big deal!
We’re not wimps here! (Okay, maybe a few of you do high-tail it for Phoenix or Palm Springs…) But mostly we’re an optimistic bunch, always pointing to the fact that it may be cold but at least it’s sunny!
Not only are we positive but we’ve got loads of talent here, too. Local artists like Bernie Brown and Nathan Pinsent capture life in Alberta extremely well. Tyler Thompson and Jeremy Bresciani have done some hockey art that really must be seen to be believed. Photography artists like Nicole Wade, Michelle King and Gord Hiebert have captured western life and landscapes through the camera lens. And what about John Walters? He may not be an artist but he is a prize-winning chuckwagon driver! I’ve met many of these people over the counter in our store and the fact that they’re as humble as they are talented makes me even prouder to be an Albertan!
Have you ever tried your hand at baking homemade Christmas baskets to give as gifts? Our two married daughters and I thought we’d give it a try this past Christmas season. We chose a “Work Day” in mid December, went through our bread, muffin, and cookie recipes, making sure we used ones that were nut free, bought the necessary ingredients, and found cute trays and wrapping for the final product. When the day came around, we baked up a storm! Mmmm…the air was smelling delicious! We started early in the morning and finished later in the evening than expected as we forgot to calculate in cooling time for the goodies as well as hand-making some crafty gift tags. We were all tired by the days end, but eager to share some Christmas Joy with some needy families!
C.A.W.E.S. Gift Wrapping
It was great fun having the privilege to help wrap up thousand’s of gifts this past December in Bower Mall for Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter. Not only was it great to meet so many new people, but also to interact with the public: chatting with a young boy about the Western Ceiling decor above the booth, helping to ease people’s gift wrapping worries, seeing them leave with a smile on their faces when they come to pick up their presentable gifts, and the impromptu carol solos Jamie from BIG 105 provided the shift we worked together. One time a gentleman dropped off about 100 gifts to be wrapped – it was quite a challenge for me to keep the names organized with the particular gift items! But there was something that happened one day on my volunteer wrap shift that stands out most in my memory. We didn’t pay too much attention at first, but one afternoon, we noticed a female hanging back about 10 ft from the booth, and slowly circled it a few times, avoiding making eye contact with any of us. We finally asked her if there was something we could help her with. Her reply was, “I’ve been wanting to get into the shelter for a while, but don’t know how. Can you help me?” It was all worth it then to go home with an aching back and very chapped fingers knowing we were able to help someone in need.