Hello, Diamond Valley. We are well into winter now even though the first official day of winter is December 21. It started with a smallish blizzard the weekend of November 7. We had snow, sleet, and high winds blowing it all around, but not as bad as the Crowsnest Pass area. Saskatchewan got it good too while the east coast still had nice temperatures. We shall see what the rest of the season brings. Here’s a look at what’s happening in our beautiful Foothills to try and take our minds off of Old Man Winter.
So, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the Town of Black Diamond will not be doing Light-Up this year. However there will be activities through town hosted by local organizations and businesses, please follow the town’s website and social media pages for more details. One tradition that is still happening is the Christmas Lights Contest. Mayor Ruth Goodwin will accompany some of the residents of High Country Lodge to select the winners, of which there will be three residential and three commercial. Judging will take place on December 3rd.
As for Turner Valley’s annual New Year Eve Celebrations, they too will take on a different format this year. Plans to host a safe and compliant event are still in the works at this time of writing, but fireworks are definitely included. Stay tuned at turnervalley.ca for more info on New Year’s Eve celebrations. It’s been a long year but hopefully we will turn the corner on this COVID-19 next year!
The kids are out of school from December 21 – January 1st. I am thankful most of our children are safe and healthy. Every year approximately 102,000 children from Southern Alberta and across Canada rely on the specialized care provided by the nurses and doctors at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. You can give the gift of hope this holiday season by participating in Western Financial’s Magic of Christmas Toy Drive, in support of the Children’s Hospital. Drop off a new unwrapped toy by December 11 at the Western Financial Registry/Insurance in Turner Valley, 105-118 Main Street. You can also drop off your toy gift at ATB in Black Diamond or Focus Fitness.
Christmas is coming and why not donate this year instead of buying a lot of gifts. You can certainly donate in someone’s name for their gift. Not for profit organizations in the Foothills can really use your help this year as may could not hold their fundraisers that they depend on. Please donate early, hopefully by December 4th, so that volunteers have enough time to get donations ready for gifting. Here are some suggestions: Oilfields Food Bank 403-612-1291, Baby It’s Cold Outside Meal Hampers 403-660-3648. Seniors Secret Service, cash or gift cards 403-257-8339, and Rowan House Emergency Shelter rowanhouse.ca. If you are in need of help this year, please contact the above.
The Salvation Army is another trustworthy and long standing not for profit that needs your help this year. Donations of new unwrapped toys and gift cards, and financial donations are gratefully accepted, and volunteers are needed too. Call 403-652-2195 for how and where to donate or volunteer. Their kettle campaign runs until December 24, if you see them while out shopping, please drop some cash in their kettles! And the Sally Ann is hosting their annual Santa Shuffle online this year! The Santa Shuffle is a fun run/walk held between Dec. 5-12, and is held in partnership with the Running Room. Shuffle on over to santashuffle.ca for full details.
Another great gift idea is the annual STARS calendar. They also have other gift ideas online like clothing, accessories, hats, masks and hand sanitizer, and other neat stuff. STARS pilots work full time at their bases, and have a minimum of 3000 helicopter flying hours. Their helicopters are more expensive than other helicopters as they must be suited to fly in any weather and have night vision for flying in the mountains. Also onboard of course are the paramedics who are doing their jobs in extreme conditions. For more information about STARS and how to donate and shop, visit stars.ca or starscalendar.ca. You can also call them at 1-877-778-8288.
Sheep River Health Trust is pleased to present their annual Avenue of Trees. They partner with the Best Western in Okotoks into a Christmas Wonderland of beautifully decorated trees from Nov. 16 – Dec. 15 and also play host to Santa for 5 weeks of Photos with Santa. All funds raised support the Sheep River Health Trust, which buys extra equipment and support for health and wellness initiatives throughout the Foothills. Four ways in which you can help are to donate a fully decorated tree, sign up as a Tree of Hope sponsor for a minimum of $500, sponsor an evening of Photos with Santa for $500, or purchase a fully decorated tree for home or business. For information on any of these sponsorship opportunities visit sheepriverhealthtrust.ca.
Our local SPCAs and animal rescue services are again seeing an increase in animals in dire need of forever homes. Almost Home Canine Rescue YYC (check them out on Facebook or their website) needs medium to large kennels, dogfood, cleaning supplies, and money for vet bills. They have a lot of dogs and their puppies that have gone through horrific times and their tireless staff and volunteers plow on to rescue as many as they can. Foster homes are needed too. Please consider them and Pound Rescue, High Country SPCA, Heaven Can Wait, this Christmas if you are an animal lover. And don’t forget to bang on your hood before starting your vehicle as feral or abandoned cats may be sleeping in your still warm engine. Good habit to get into.
This season let’s also consider shopping local instead of box stores or Amazon. Gift cards are available for most of our local businesses or find the perfect unique gift for all on your list. I looked in Turner Valley’s business directory and there are 119 listings. Black Diamond has 133 listings for businesses so they are certainly no lack of diverse shops to choose from.
And what about gifts that don’t cost money? Gifts that don’t need plastic to send and will be forgotten soon? Kids pick up on your feelings really fast, if you haven’t noticed. If you are excited about having a magical Christmas with little money and donating time and effort instead, they too will get excited. Unsubscribe from advertising emails and toss catalogs in the recycling. Skip TV commercials, and have kids make gifts, draw pictures and cards, and search online on how to help others, or donate through one of the suggestions in this column. Go for a walk/drive to look at Christmas lights, have a family dance party. Give each child/family member a box to fill with donations. Make paper snowflakes and paper chains. The Library has lots of Christmas books and stories. Downsize your giving, honestly, who is going to complain??? Children benefit from having fewer toys, and most of us don’t need another store- bought item.
Make a list of all things you usually do at Christmas. Highlight everything that costs money, and find creative ways to replace them for free. For example, make your own Advent calendar. I remember my Mom made one out of felt and wrapped little candies or a nickel (back then that was good money). And GET OUTSIDE as often as you can. Be a snow angel and help shovel other’s walks. Make a snow angel. Studies show most of us are vitamin D deficient and it makes a big difference just to get outside for fresh air and sunshine. As old fashioned as it sounds, Christmas comes from the heart and not the pocketbook.
Our local Legion won’t be hosting their annual Kids Christmas parties this year, but are sure in the spirit anyhow. They have a progressive 50/50 online with the draw date on December 18. Pop by for dinner or lunch, kids are delightfully welcome, and you don’t have to be a member to enjoy our Legion. Thursdays are wing night, and they have breakfast on Saturdays. Check out this awesome organization and you will feel like family when you come. They are on Facebook for more information.
If you have wondered what is going on in Black Diamond on the northeast side of the bridge, the town is making a parking lot, washroom, and picnic area with river access. The home that was there has long since been removed. Due to weather, work will resume in the spring. This will be an asset I feel so people can park there instead of on the side of the road between our two towns, and not cut through private properties to get to the river. I also look forward to the Field of Dreams baseball park being utilized next year, fingers crossed.
Do you remember comedian Johnny Harris doing a free show in the Flare and Derrick last year? Well, that show is finally going to air on CBC on December 8th at 6pm. The show is called Still Standing and features small towns in Canada that are still standing. I look forward to seeing this show!
If you have any news, events, or whatnot for the January issue, please drop me a email@example.com.Thedeadline for this issue is December 15. Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday from me and High Country News.