For a lot of people Christmas Day and Christmas dinner is all about family, but for some family is made up of more than blood relatives. Local communities become families over time, and it this spirit that makes Community Christmas Dinners happen. In our region, there are three Christmas Dinners that have been around for a number of years, in Northbrook, Sharbot Lake, and Verona. They are all different, but they serve a pretty similar menu, they are all free dinners that are community funded, and they are all open to anyone and everyone in the local community.
“Some people come because they are alone, some come to spend part of Christmas with friends and neighbours, and some couple come because it is a log of work to make Christmas dinner for only two people,” said Marylin Bolender, who has been the principal organiser of the Northbrook dinner for a number of years, a job she inherited from others who started it up as much as 20 years ago. She puts up the posters and cooks the turkeys, hams and pies the day before, and volunteers show up at the Lion’s hall on Christmas Day to help with all the final cooking, setup and cleanup.
“People always see to donate enough money to pay for the following year,” she said, “and since the Lion’s Club donates the hall, we keep the costs down.”
Bolender said she never knows how many people will come, as few as 50 and as many as 100. Last year there were 80, and the crews will be ready for that many or more this year.
“I enjoy it, and people enjoy coming out and sharing,” she said. The Northbrook Dinner starts at 12noon.
In Sharbot Lake, a committee meets throughout the fall to get everything organised for the dinner, which runs from 2pm-4pm at St. James Catholic Church Hall. The dinner is often followed by music and a lot of socialising.
In Verona, the Lions and the Verona Community Association combine forces to put on what they call a Community Feast, with lots of music and presents, starting up at 10am, and running well into the afternoon.