Twas several days before Christmas in 19???? When Neil and Ruth and eleven or so of their close friends found themselves with no Christmas dinner invitations plans. Because houses on Gabriola were much smaller then they could not find a house to suit them all.
So what did they do? You maybe asking yourself. Well a couple of them happen to be pondering this question over tea and coffee at there favourite dinner once called Suzanne’s (for you newbie that’s the current home of Ground Up in this story). Suzie the owner had overheard the groups dilemma.
Suzie approached the table. “Ahhhh.. I hear you are in need of a place for Christmas Dinner? Well I am about to close the dinner down for the season. Why don’t you use the dinner and kitchen - if you like - you'd be more than welcome” she said.
And that is how the first Christmas meal filled with laughter, good food and much spirit became the first Gabriola Spirit Feast. For many years the Feast was held at Camp Miriam. The Camp having the only kitchen on the island that could cook all the turkeys at the same time. Each year the feast grew and each year the Boultons provided turkeys, and the Lions helped out and the grocery store donated.
Decorations were put up for many years by the Velsen family - Pat and Chris often played chef and several others as well. The dinner was always delicious, Santa appeared and gave out, books, socks, hats and mitts as well as a few toys for kids. Somewhere along the way, a vegetarian nut loaf was added to increase the communities vast variety of neighbours. After dinner there was always music.
Once the Commons kitchen was built the meal was cooked and then driven down to the Community Hall. The Hall is a challenge to decorate. But the Velsen's or Brenda Halliwell always made the room feel like home. And still the dinner was delicious the parking was great and seniors could attended. Santa still comes on occasion, and small gifts of mitts and socks are collected at the Gabe Shop and given out at the dinner.
Surprise, surprise one year the power went out and we had turkey on a bun with an outdoor fire at the Fellowship Church. Oh the memories…
During both covid years the dinner was served to 275 residents via pick up or delivery, each in a decorated bag by the elementary school children, with a small token gift.
In conclusion Spirit Feast is still around to this day. This event is open to everyone in our community. But most of all for those in our community who find themselves without a dinner invitation or a house too small, or alone for some reason - the Gabriola Spirit Feast still creates laughter, good food, and community spirit.
ps. So if you find yourself at loose ends this season, you’re more than welcome to come and attend - this year’s meal in person for 100 people that will be served at the Community Hall on December 24 and for 150 by pickup or delivery. Please don’t forget to register for this event. Space is limited.