For most, Christmas is spent surrounded by family and friends and St. Andrew’s United Church wants to make sure that is true for everyone in Moose Jaw.
To make this happen, the church will host its annual Christmas Inn turkey dinner on Dec. 25, with an open invitation to anyone in the city who would like to attend and share Christmas Day with a room full of people feeling the same cheer.
“Really what we're trying to do is we're trying to provide a place for community at Christmas. It's not a great day to be alone,” said Minister Jim Tenford.
The community event has been going on for 41 years, with an exceptional group of volunteers and attendees making the Inn as successful as possible.
“We have a lot of the folks from our church come out and help on that day, but we also get a ton of people that come out from other churches and the rest of the community and Moose Jaw,” said Tenford. “We have some folks where that's become their Christmas tradition.”
It was an idea brought to St. Andrew’s by Gerhardt and Dicky Scholten in the late 1970s, who wanted to continue the tradition of fellowship and feasting during the holidays practiced in their homeland of Holland.
Usually, the Inn sees around 120 guests for the traditional turkey dinner, which features all the classic Christmas fixings — turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and even dessert.
Dinner is served at 3:30 p.m. and often, people arrive early to mingle or enjoy the music or games that have appeared over the years. Mostly, Tenford said, people come early to enjoy each other’s company prior to the meal.
“There are a lot of folks here that they just see each other on Christmas Day at our dinner. They've been coming for 20 years and this is sort of their once-a-year family,” said Tenford. “It is a very social time. It's not enough to eat at Christmas — you've got to be part of a family.”
The Christmas Inn is open to anyone in the community. The meal will be provided free of charge, although St. Andrew’s does request that those planning to attend pre-register before the event so volunteers can prepare enough food.
It’s always a welcoming atmosphere at the Christmas Inn, which is exactly what Tenford and the organizers from St. Andrew’s are hoping to create.
“People like to be around a loving family at Christmas and so this is their chance to come out, have dinner with 120 of their closest friends,” said Tenford.
To RSVP to the Christmas Inn, call St. Andrew’s Church at 1 (306) 692-0533. For those interested in volunteering, contact Carol Moran at 1 (306) 690-8001 or firstname.lastname@example.org.