Telling the story of my life in my home - Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe - Festival of Trees 2013


Photo credit to Events With Vizability
 
While the title of this post may seem provocative it isn't really an invitation, but rather a recap of an event - the Meet Me Under the Mistletoe gala at the annual Festival of Trees, in fact.

Last week I wrote about the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, and what a brilliant party it was to kick off the 2013 Festival of Trees. The festival, which is the culmination of months of hard work and effort from the Northern Lights Health Foundation, is an annual event of beautiful trees, Christmas crafts with the kids, a silent auction, a visit to Santa, and a lovely gala that I have now attended for the last three years.




When you go to a lot of events it can be easy to become a bit jaded, but one of the things likely little known about me is that I am an die-hard Christmas enthusiast, and my house typically "explodes Christmas" every year when garland and lights covers everything that doesn't move (and some that do, which explains the photos of the family dog festooned in bright blinking lights and wearing a puzzled expression). And so it is for this reason that every year I eagerly await the Festival of Trees and in particular the gala, as it is the kickoff for my season, getting me into the spirit of holiday shopping and decorating and baking.

This year was a beautiful one at the gala, and the done-to-perfection touches from the local Events With Vizability gang were in full view in the whimsical Seuss-inspired décor. The colours were those of a traditional Christmas, reds and greens, and truly evocative of the season. The oversized gifts, the clever signs, and the general atmosphere made for a lovely backdrop for an evening with the local glitterati who came to mix and mingle and bid on trees, raising funds for an amazing organization in our community.



I spent much of my time with a dear friend, occasionally heading out into the crowd to do my own mingling and chatting, the kind of small talk one partakes in at these events. Masters of Ceremonies Krista Balsom and Rolando Inzunza kept the program rolling along, and with their usual charm and grace managed a program that included sponsors and NLHF staff, as well as the main event - the tree auction.


This year marks the last that Ross Jacobs will serve as auctioneer, and I will miss him and his beguiling ways as he convinces, cajoles, and downright corners people into bidding on trees, laughter ringing out as the prices are driven higher and higher. The trees, ranging from the very traditional ones done in Victorian styles to those in bright shades of pinks and blacks and whites, were lovely to behold, and even lovelier to watch as they were sold one by one to create the money needed for the NLHF to do the work they do in our community.

I watched most of the bidding from my perch on one of the festively decorated soft couches, hovering in front of the stage to not miss a moment of the action, and to watch as the auctioneer engaged with bidders, playing that age old game of "who wants it most?"




I was there to see Jimmy Whiffen perform (a musician I have had the pleasure of seeing before, but never on a stage so large), and I was there to see a short video of the MCs enjoying all the different aspects of the Festival of Trees.


And while I was there I kept thinking about this event, and how it has been part of my life for a very long time. I recall when it was still at one of the local high schools, before moving on to the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre, and for the last few years now at MacDonald Island Park. When the Intrepid Junior Blogger was smaller I would take her every year, to sit on Santa's lap and to make a stocking with glue and glitter (that would subsequently shed glitter all over her, the inside of the car, and my floor, holding true to the adage that glitter is the "herpes of the craft world"). We would emerge from Santa's workshop with hands sticky with glue and faces sticky from gingerbread man icing (mostly her, really, but sometimes me, too), and every year it was the event that helped us welcome in the holidays.

My world is different now. On Saturday evening I sat amongst a crowd of beautifully dressed people and enjoyed a festive atmosphere, and welcomed the season just as I have done for the past few years.

I must admit that on Sunday morning I headed back to the Festival of Trees with the intention of sitting on Santa's lap, although that was thwarted by a line-up of children waiting in their holiday best for their time with the jolly old elf and his wife. I smiled as I remembered those days when the IJB was little, and felt a bit wistful as now she is simply too old for such "nonsense" and will not humour me in my requests to stay little for just awhile longer. I looked around at all the children and parents enjoying Santa's workshop, and I took one final swing through the trees. And then I left to drive to my storage unit, where I pulled out all my Christmas decorations. One box, the lid a little loose, spilled open and out fell a few items, including a red felt stocking covered with glitter and, true to the nature of glitter, still shedding a few tiny glistening bits.

I smiled. And then I cried, for days gone by and for the pure and simple joy of having the chance to welcome another Christmas with the Festival of Trees, and with a young woman who is, in my mind, growing up and away from me far, far too quickly.

My thanks and congratulations to
the Northern Lights Health Foundation,
Events With Vizability,
all the sponsors, volunteers,
and MacDonald Island Park staff,
for helping me welcome
the holiday season
with another spectacular
Festival of Trees,
including the very lovely
Meet Me Under the Mistletoe
 gala event.

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