Due to poor weather, the flight was delayed leaving Halifax, arriving at 4 a.m. in St. John’s. We were greeted at the airport by my good friend, Patricia Power in St. John’s, and went to her home for a little rest, before starting out on our journey to Grand Falls-Windsor.
We were going there as our father, Chesley Strickland from Milltown, Bay D’Espoir, had been admitted to Grand Falls-Windsor hospital, and was in very serious condition.
Early Christmas morning, we began our journey to Grand Falls-Windsor, and driving conditions were not the best. We drove and drove, and since it was Christmas Day, nothing was open and we were anxious to stop for a cup of tea, or just to stop anywhere.
Finally, when we arrived in Gander, we noticed that the lights were on in the Irving Gas Station and Restaurant. We quickly turned the car around and went in, to be greeted by two very friendly gentlemen, wishing us Merry Christmas and welcoming us to come in.
We were so surprised to see they were open as nothing was opened all along our long drive. They soon told us they were not actually open for business, the Gander Community hosts a free Christmas dinner each year for homeless people, for anyone who lives by themselves, for people travelling, or for anyone who would like to share a Christmas Dinner with other people.
We were totally overwhelmed by their generous hospitality and quickly sat down and had a cup of tea. The place was decorated lovely for Christmas, and a very talented lady was playing guitar and singing Christmas carols in the corner. A most delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings, including Newfoundland traditional salt beef was served to us. The meal was absolutely wonderful and lots of it – home-cooked and just like home away from home, topped off by a delicious dessert.
We chatted with the people there who were serving the meals – all volunteers in the community volunteering their time on Christmas morning to cook and serve a wonderful Christmas dinner for people like us who dropped in. They also delivered several meals to other people in the community, who were unable to leave their homes.
Our meal was served to us by the Mayor of Gander, Claude Elliott, and he sat down and chatted with us for a bit, along with a lawyer from the Gander community, both wonderful people. What a marvelous thing to do for others on Christmas Day.
We enjoyed the meal and appreciated it so much; we were so overwhelmed by this community effort and this is truly what Christmas is all about – helping others in time of need. When we left, they presented us with boxes of chocolates and a little care package bag.
The three of us left feeling so impressed and overwhelmed by finding this very special Christmas Miracle – just hit the spot as we travelled along the highway to visit our father in the hospital.
Unfortunately, our father lost his battle to cancer and passed away on Jan. 5. We will never forget our Christmas Miracle in Gander on Christmas Day.
Many thanks to the Mayor and citizens of Gander for their most generous and thoughtful hospitality.
Marjorie (Strickland) Boutilier