Not sure about your household, but the House of Hodge is now officially in full fledged Christmas holidays mode.
Pretty much every conceivable corner is covered in some sort of festive frill—or will be by the time Christmas Eve rolls around.
I love this time of year and have since I was a wee lad who drove his parents around the bend with Christmas enthusiasm.
I am confident my true joy for this time of year stems from the fact that as a boy I lived in a certain level of fear everyday because of my father’s unpredictable temper and mood swings.
Dad was an amazingly bright man in many ways, with a huge passion for his community and a very kind and compassionate side. However, that was all routinely tucked away when within his own home domain where often violence and anger reigned supreme.
Mother paid the main price of Dad’s failing health, psychological short circuiting, and own childhood demons that would erupt without warning, but I was a suitable backup for whatever frustration remained.
I loved my dad but he never learned love as a youngster and struggled with showing it as an adult.
However, at Christmas my father always seemed to be on his best behaviour for a few days before Christmas, and I learned that in my youthful home that truly calmness represented a safe time—and therefore truly a holiday to be thankful about.
Ironically, Dad also always found a total stranger or someone who had nowhere to be during Christmas Day, and he would bring them home for dinner.
It is a tradition we carry on today.
So, ironically, I have my father to largely thank for my love of Christmas.
Then, as now, my life was often blessed by the kind and caring actions of others who helped to make my world a brighter, happier, safer place to be.
Literally hundreds of times in my younger life, friends, casual acquaintances, and sometimes total strangers would simply show up at the right moment and do or say something meaningful that meant a lot.
Sometimes it was a small gesture or kind word, other times it was life-saving or life-altering actions.
Regardless, I have truly been blessed with many amazing and kind folks in my world and all of that has led to more than 25 years of writing an annual Charlie’s Christmas Angels lists. Angels are simply folks who have gone above and beyond to assist or help myself or others. I also invite folks to send me their list.
And so, here are my angels and some of those submitted by others.
Former Kelowna city councillor and friend Michele Rule lists Bruce Stranaghan from Integra Tire in Kelowna as an angel for being a driving force behind the Carma Project, which gives good, reliable cars to families in need. More about the project at www.thecarmaproject.com.
“Bruce quietly goes along making everything come together in a beautiful way,” Michele writes.
Her personal angel is partner Frithjof Petscheleit for his kind, generous, thoughtful and sincere heart.
My friend Tia says her angels include Micki Smith for the relentless work she does to help women in need in the Okanagan community, and Robert Whiteley for showing grace and courage in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles and for the continuous volunteer work he does on behalf of the Bridge Youth and Family Services.
Lifetime buddy, singer extraordinaire, and one of my personal angels Deb Stone says an unknown neighbour is her angel.
“He brings his little tractor with a plough on it and clears the side walk on the entire street before most of us are up in the morning. I don’t know his last name but his first name is Morris. Every once in awhile we will see him go by with his faithful border collie riding on the back. Now that’s an angel!”
Terese Derosiers nominates Ozanam House and its board of directors as angels. Ozanam is one of two recovery houses for men left in Kelowna.
Artist and humanitarian Cherie Hanson says her angels are, “People who post uplifting memos on Facebook. Those who put up beautiful, inspiring pictures. Those who find a way, even when tragedy strikes, to remind us to stay in a state of love and compassion. Those people are my angels and lift up my soul.”
My own number one angel, Teresa, has a couple of special folks on her Angel list including Vicky Glabus (her Purolator lady). “She is always happy and smiling.”
Tez also names Marlene Lang, her best buddy since 1972.
“She has always been generous, bubbly, and fun to be around.”
As well, Teresa acknowledges our wonderful neighbours Cam and Mel across the street, who clean our driveway without a word or expecting anything in return.
And last but not least, on our list are two wonderful human beings in Bernie and Bettina, sweethearts with their kindness and constant encouragement.”
My personal Angel list tends to be a little lengthy, and I am sure I will remember more just the exact second this leaves my computer for print.
However, my opening salvo of angel names includes Paul Beaupre, Jim Krahn, Dave Stratten and Don Moore from the ‘Shop,’ who have each individually helped me in so many ways through a very tough year. Thanks boys!
Other amazing people in my life this past year include Sandy and Randy Shier, Curtis Tulman, Elie Marchante, Les Thompson, Jan Johnston, John Adams, Eileen Cassidy, Larry Hollier, Graeme James, Jimmy LeGuilloux, Dr. Graeme McCaulley and Alice Jeffries at the Kelowna Respiratory Clinic and staff at the Vancouver Lung Transplant Clinic, Al Paterson, John Richey of the local Red Cross, Yves Beliveau, Trudy Janicki, and Kamel Abougoush.
From Tez and I, our blessings to all of you folks in Readerland and may you have a peaceful and wonderful Christmas.