It’s taken me a while to gather my thoughts about Christmas in transitional housing. Some of it’s happy, some of it’s sad, some of it’s downright funny.
Out of the 30 of us living here, there were maybe 15 of us here over Christmas – the really hard core loners who don’t have family or friends to invite us for the holidays.
The atmosphere was frankly kind of depressing although staff did do their best to make it cheerful and pleasant.
Christmas was actually spread out over a month, during which time, I got to experience the quirks of charity gifts.
We had our “official” Christmas dinner Dec. 3 when volunteer chefs who come in once a month came in and made an amazing meal – that was nice. Afterwards we all got to pick gifts from a pile of gift bags. I got a set of espresso cups that someone had clearly donated. Erm ok. Can’t use them here, and not really sure how useful espresso cups will be in setting up a new apartment. But they are nice cups and it’s the thought that counts right?
Mid Dec. we were all invited to a ladies luncheon at a nearby Church which apparently has strong ties to the house. I couldn’t go due to exams, but they sent back gift bags for everyone. Think heavy on the toiletries.
Dec. 23 a nice Italian family came in to serve lunch (I missed it as I thought they were coming for dinner – my bad) At any rate on the 23′rd we were supposed to get one of the gifts we’d requested from this particular charity that was sponsoring us. I’d requested a book or a pair of earrings (complete with URL as to where they could be bought). These were apparently too esoteric to track down, so I got a gift card to Indigo. Fair enough – I can buy my own book. It was just a bit of a let down watching all the other women open their gifts. But did get a nice warm set of Ski gloves.
Dec. 24, was really nice. We had a supper of leftovers from the 23′rd, and staff asked us to gather in the common room. The common room, was really nicely decorated and we had eggnog, and cookies, and chocolates. Then one of the counselors asked us to go around and say what we were thankful for. Most of us said housing, I said I was glad to have the opportunity to be back in school and retraining. But it really was a lesson in being grateful for the little things. We all got gift bags again, and these were the most fun, as some thought had gone into them. I got a large selection of black socks, the only colour I wear, a scarf, gloves, a fun stuffed toy, and some stuff that really will be useful in setting up my own place once I’m out of here.
Dec. 25 was low key – they made a really nice Turkey dinner for us, that was super yummy and we sat around after dinner talking.
The funniest bit about the whole season however had to have been the saga of the Gingerbread houses. An elementary school, that’s loosely affiliated with the same Catholic charity decorated and sent over 4 absolutely gorgeous gingerbread houses. None of us wanted to eat the houses because they were too pretty. But staff insisted we eat them. This actually led to an argument and a bit of a stalemate until one of the more assertive staff members attacked a house with a large knife and smashed the roof, after which we were all more than happy to eat it.
As a result of the gift bags I’m now more than well stocked with toiletries – last count it was 4 toothbrushes and 5 tubes of toothpaste, plus multiple soaps, shampoos, and moisturizes – I’m not going to have to go shopping for a long time. All sensible practical gifts that women living in a shelter would need.
Just never imagined me needing them.