Diana Gough pulls the stopper on a musical decoration on the coffee table in her Sidney home. She’ll be attending the annual Christmas Day luncheon at the Mary Winspear Centre. The event is aimed at people who would otherwise be alone on Christmas.

Luncheon makes holidays less lonely

Christmas day event in Sidney brings people together, who might otherwise be alone

Christmastime can be a lonely period for Diana Gough.

Having left a long-term marriage in 2007 – she was with her husband for 50 years – she went from celebrating in a traditional family style to more or less keeping to herself.

The Sidney resident says she was grateful that around that time, she discovered a tradition that for 11 years has aimed to make the day a little less lonely for people who have lost a partner or whose family is far away.

“I think it’s one of the best things that ever happened to me,” she says of the annual Christmas Day Peninsula community dinner at the Mary Winspear Centre, which attracted more than 200 people last year.

Separating from a family situation causes one to “lose all the rituals,” says Gough, 71, noting her two daughters live in Ontario and Washington state and have their own families. “All my (adult) life I prepared dinners for the family and for my husband.”

Now someone else is looking after the meal and she gets to focus on the social aspects of the event.

The lunch features turkey and all the trimmings, entertainment and a visit from Santa. It’s all cooked up and served by a team of between 30 and 40 volunteers, led by Isabell Yoxall. Members of the Sidney Lions provide rides for people unable or unlikely to use public transit or cabs.

“The people that are there are just so happy to see you,” Gough says. “You’re part of a family, part of a community.”

Doreen Patterson, 80, and her husband, who is 84, booked a table of eight for the meal, including their son, three friends and a couple from their bridge club. The Pattersons attended the event for the first time several years back and, with the exception of last year, have made it a part of their Christmas plans.

“We used to be in Calgary and had a lot of family that got together and cooked together. Now we’re reduced to just the three of us and friends. It’s not the same,” she says.

It’s not only the diners who are made to feel special. Shirley Lewis, 76, has volunteered at the dinner for five years, having linked up with Beacon Community Services. Widowed almost 14 years ago and struck by feelings of sadness around the season still today, she felt an immediate kinship with her fellow volunteers.

“We all have something in common with being alone, for one thing,” she says. “The women come all dressed up and we make it a happy day for all of those who come. It’s a good day for me.”

While no tickets are sold for the meal, donations are gratefully accepted onsite, or at Scotiabank, 2355 Beacon Ave.

Two sittings are available, at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and reservations are a must, by calling Wendy Warshawski at 250-656-7678 during the day.


Just Posted

Victoria Police host Faith-Based Safety Forum in light of recent religious attacks

More than 35 faith-based leaders voice concerns, air questions

Still barriers to abortion access on Vancouver Island

Experts say transportation, support, doctors can be barriers to accessing abortion

Coastline serves up a feast of fiddlers in Oak Bay

Local Juno Award winner musical director for ensemble

Kelowna toddler suffers cracked skull after fall from balcony

Neighbour who found the two-year-old boy said he has a bump the size of a golf ball on his head

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Support growing for orphaned Okanagan child after father dies in highway crash

Family thanks emergency crews for assistance in traumatic incident

Baby boom seniors putting pressure on B.C. long-term care: report

B.C. leads Canada in growth of dementia, dependence on care

RCMP probe if teen was intentionally hit with ski pole by mystery skier on B.C. mountain

The incident happened on March 20 on Grouse Mountain. Police are urging witnesses to come forward

Pipeline protester chimes in on Justin Trudeau’s B.C. fundraising speech

The government purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion

UPDATED: B.C. man says he’ll take People’s Party lawsuit as far as he can

Federal judge shut down Satinder Dhillon’s ‘nonsensical’ motion to bar use of PPC name in byelection

Canada stripping citizenship from Chinese man over alleged marriage fraud

The move comes amid severely strained relations between Ottawa and Beijing

Most Read