A triangle twinkles red, yellow, green, blue on my neighbour's front door as I pass in the black morning. An irregular pine silhouettes in the orange nightlight of the tipi triangle. A green plastic fir blooms bulbs and beads beside a poster requesting 350 non-perishable food donations, based on one item per student. In the heart of the school a tipi stands against three evergreen.
At school today, an email pops up from Mark Husband, my friend, and director of sports at Western Christian College and my daughter's math teacher. He wonders how the boys were (we had thirteen basketball players and two coaches stay at our place last Friday) and had I seen Victoria on the news.
"She spoke very well," Mark says. "Though they did get her name wrong on the caption... Victoria Koots... so I called her an old koot this morning. It got a reaction. (I also told her how poised she was on camera and other good things... You can be proud of her."
No, I hadn't seen the footage.
Victoria calls tonight and tells me there is a link on her facebook page to CTV's story on homelesspartners.com in Regina. Michael finds the link and the girls and I gather to watch. The establishing shot shows the Glen Elm Church of Christ, street sign saying, "The heavenly father is looking for his children." The minister and my friend, Jason Bandura, talks about the program's growth, interviewing homeless or working poor, and bringing their stories and Christmas requests to the city's more affluent.
Sure enough, there is our six-foot, redhead at church, talking about how people's requests are sometimes so simple, like toques, scarves and mitts, "Something to warm them, and something to warm their Christmas as well."
I visit the website, which I have done a few times now, at Victoria's request. She's phoned me from a store, asked me to long on to her account and remind her of the details that she has committed to. My girls -- well, the two oldest, Arwen says she wasn't consulted -- have decided that they will give to homelesspartners.com in honour of the adult gifts they would normally buy. They are reading the stories and matching gifts to things that would mean something to the adults in their lives. For example, one of the gifts on her list was a goose call, and I guess that would be for the hunters, Grandpa Bill or Uncle Ian. I was a little startled to see that they'd pledged a new or used guitar, and I knew this was Moira's decision, because she has a guitar, but doesn't really play it, preferring the piano. I know giving the guitar away is the right thing, but it had been a birthday gift from me.
Tonight I tour homelesspartners.com on my own. I notice there are three drop down boxes in Regina: Salvation Army; Soul's Harbour Rescue Mission; and Gentle Road Church of Christ. I look at the stories -- the people -- at Gentle Road; Susan, Lori, Kevin, Maryanne, Margaret, Michelle and this really hits home because Kevin Vance, my friend and minister of Gentle Road Church of Christ, was one of the basketball coaches who had just been to my home on Friday night. He and I had talked until one in the morning, sharing what we're learning and how we're changing as we walk with people who are finding their way despite incredible injustice.
Jeans size 14 female; Barbie toys for Janine; Hat, gloves, scarf, thermal underware, size 3XL male; Wii games or a gift card for Avery to get some; Age appropriate toys for a six year old boy; Disney movies for a six year old boy; Shirts, size L female; Hair straightener. (homelesspartners.com / regina / gentle road church of christ)
I'm wiping the tears from my eyes. These are real people. One friend away from me. And then I think of my own friends, right here in Fort Qu'Appelle, who have similar stories, similar histories, similar obstacles, and the many more in our community with whom I am one friend away.
I wonder if the point of the Christmas tree, that star or angel topped point, may be an arrow that pierces our hearts this time of year, pries us open to experience compassion and awareness to the extent that we actually do something.