Celebrating with neighbours from all cultures and faiths

Carolyn Bennett logoDreidel, dreidel, dreidel….

One of the joys of our multicultural country is to learn about and celebrate with our neighbours from all cultures and faiths. This Sunday, many of our neighbours and friends in Toronto-St. Paul’s will celebrate the first night of Hanukkah by lighting the first candle of the menorah.

For the next eight days, they will light another candle until the menorah is fully lit. They will sing songs, play dreidel games and eat delicious potato latkes; some with sour cream, some with applesauce — some of us love them with both.

Next Wednesday we will join members of the Jewish community to celebrate National Festival of Lights with the Prime Minister, MPs and Senators from all parties. Last year it was virtual with thousands of people joining us online. This year it will be hybrid, some of us on the Hill and others able to join from home. Hanukkah also has a tradition of gift-giving; always gelt, those delicious chocolate ‘coins’ covered in gold foil, and other gestures of love and friendship.

Keep shopping local

As we exit Black Friday and enter this holiday season, I hope all of us will remember our commitments of last year to “Shop Local.”

It is hugely important we remember that when we shop from our local stores and restaurants our dollars stay in the local economy. When we shop at the big chains and box stores, not so much. When we shop online, our neighbourhoods suffer. I now have some Etsy stores I know are local. There are such great options for gifts that somehow seem more personal when they come from our favourite locals.

This year, Peter and I still feel uncomfortable hosting our annual Christmas Party at home. This year, once again, we will gift our friends some of the tourtières, chili sauce, latkes, pâté, sticky toffee pudding and eggnog that would have been served at our gathering.

This year we need to continue to thank our frontline workers. We can thank them in many different ways; a small gift, a handwritten note, or just a smile (even behind our masks!) and a warm thank you can be so important.

We know this holiday season is often really hard on people living alone or in difficult family situations. I remember when I was a radio doctor in Australia, I had volunteered to work Christmas Day as I was far from home. House call after house call, I saw people who were sad, struggling, drinking.

We need to take time over the holiday season to reach out to those who may need us to check in to let them know they are loved and not alone.

Happy Hanukkah.

Stay safe.

Stay in touch with those who need you.

Other things to know and do

  • Did you miss the Toronto-St. Paul’s Summit on Nov. 14 with all elected officials? It’s not too late to watch. Check out the recorded video on Facebook. You do not need to have a Facebook account to watch.
  • The New Horizons for Seniors Program is a federal grants and contributions program that supports projects designed by and for seniors. It has two funding streams: community-based projects and pan-Canadian projects. Projects in the past have included enhancing senior knowledge with social media, community gardens to donate harvested fruits and vegetables to communal kitchens and more. For details on funding, eligibility, the application process and more, visit here. WBCA Holiday Market poster
  • The Wychwood Barns Community Association Holiday Market is taking place at Wychwood Barns on Dec. 5 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Check out the Toronto-St. Paul’s theatres: TYT Theatre/Wychwood Theatre, Tarragon Theatre and Hillcrest Village Community Players.
  • In partnership with Black Women in Motion (BWIM), starting Nov. 29, BWIM will be facilitating a virtual program on Mondays and Thursdays called Motiv8. The program will work with racialized youth age 13–18, families, local agencies, and advocates from the Oakwood-Vaughan and Jane-Finch community to ensure residents have pathways to mental, physical, holistic health services, educational and employment opportunities.