People and their stories – that’s what keeps Don Wilson returning to help organize the Free Community Christmas Dinner each year.
Now in its 15th year, the dinner is open to those in the Tatamagouche area who wish to attend.
“Many of us know the value in (the dinner),” said Wilson, about himself and about 60 others that help bring the dinner together. “It’s the stories that get back to me about the dinners that have been delivered that I love to hear.”
One story saw two “girls” deliver a meal to a lady who was having a rough time at home, and it was the girls’ actions she appreciated most.
“She said, ‘these two girls took the time to talk to me at a difficult time,’” he said. “It’s those types of stories that fuel my ambition. That just advertises what type of a community we are.”
Last year, 110 dinners were delivered with another 200 or so visiting the farmers’ market building for a sit-down meal with all the trimmings. Much like last year, this year’s dinner will feature turkeys grown by a local farmer, with the staff at the Tim Hortons Children’s Camp cooking them prior to the dinner.
The dinner, which will be served around 1:15 p.m. on Christmas Day, will feature potatoes, peas, carrots, gravy, dressing and cranberry sauce. There will be decorations adorning the market, with the Tatamagouche Chamber Ensemble and West Branch and Area Singers bringing some live performances.
“It evolves a little bit each year,” said Wilson.
With so much preparation going into the dinner, Wilson said it’s hard to even estimate the man-hours involved. But, he said it’s the vegetable peeling jobs that have about 25 people vying for their position.
“They must do that job year after year,” Wilson laughed.
Father Christmas had made appearances in the past, and he may just be there again this year, depending on his schedule, of course.
Reservations can be made for large groups for the sit-down meal, however not required for individuals or small groups.
“I had one lady call me with a group of about 13 people,” said Wilson. “She had been cooking Christmas dinner for 20 plus years and she was tired of it, but still wanted the family to be together. If people let us know beforehand, we can reserve them a spot so they’re all together.”
To help pay for the dinner, organizers also hosted a cake auction at Ocean Lanes on Dec. 8, and donation jars were set up at numerous businesses. Turkey bucks were also welcomed.
For more information on the dinner, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Don Wilson at 902-662-4190. Reservations for deliveries are taken until Dec. 22. Anyone planning to attend with a large group, call or email Wilson for reservations.