A Lynam Family Christmas Dinner
Mom at her new home December 14th 2014
My Dad passed away in February 2000 it was not a surprise to the family and we were all able to say our good-byes as we crowded around his hospital bed.
There were some things that took place after my Dad passed away. Mom got much more involved in various community groups from the Royal Canadian Legion to the Catholic Women’s League. I think she was a board member of both groups and really enjoyed that challenge.
One of the most important things that Mom was a part of was being involved in the creation of the new kitchen at the church hall and having her say about how things in that kitchen were being designed. Mom knew her way around a kitchen, and it was important to her that she was a able to give input.
The Lynam Christmases were traditionally a noisy, fun affair we spoke loudly because in a family of 8 kids it was sometimes hard to be heard and we all really wanted to be heard so we would speak over each other and interrupt. (We still do)
The first Christmas after Dad was gone was somehow just a little more hollow we still had this amazing dinner created by my Mom a bunch of adult children coming home getting dressed up and commiserating and going on about this amazing dinner.
The dinner a very large turkey with all the fixings, stuffing, mashed potatoes, turnips, carrots brussel sprouts, salad, gravy, cranberry sauce, pickles and plenty of gala wine. The dinner was again flawless but just without Dad sharing the head of the table with Mom.
Mom looked around at her grown children. I am not sure what she was thinking-maybe something like-why am I still doing this? I heard her say to herself. “Next year will be different, next Christmas is going to mean something”
Mom was always a very kind person and she really cared for others. As a testament to Moms character she would “take things in” – case in point Robbie the Crow who was knocked out of his nest as a baby or the little runt of a pig that she nursed to health when the chance of it living was slim to none.
Mom always treated any of the stray animals or friends we brought home with tenderness and kindness. She had a wonderful sense of humour and to this day nothing makes us happier than to hear her laugh.
Mom decided that next year she would provide a Christmas dinner for people in Agassiz who are alone over the holidays. The plan was hatched and things started to happen.
Mom reserved the Legion hall in Agassiz at no cost to her because of the kindness that she was bestowing on the community.
We spent the first two years preparing the meal at the Royal Canadian Legion followed by three more years at the Catholic Church – St. Anthony of Padua
Each year Mom purchased a very big turkey, I think there was also a smoked ham on the menu. An advertisement was placed in the local newspaper advising of a traditional Lynam Family Christmas to be held on Christmas day and to contact Merle Lynam to RSVP.
Christmas eve the bird was prepped as best as it could be and at 4 or 5 in the morning Lorena or Mom (maybe both of them) lovingly placed Tom the Turkey into the oven of the hall kitchen and the day began.
The Work crew consisted of my brothers and sisters, their significant others, as well as our children. We all began the chore of preparing the grand feast.
Lorena who was the most skilled of the bunch of us in the kitchen took control and made sure that everyone had something to do.
I peeled carrots and potatoes others cooked and prepped, timing was everything had to be ready at the same time or the quality of the meal would suffer we placed pickles on trays and crackers on plates. The kids decorated the tables with cedar bows and flowers.
Guests started arriving around 1:30 pm and dinner started at 2:00 pm. All who came into the hall were given a glass of wine because Christmas dinner without a glass of wine would just be un-civilized.
We lined up behind the food stations and started dishing out the requested dish, I remember our children were all involved with this process and I couldn’t help but think what a great experience this was for them to see this gift of Christmas. Ben was given a hard time from some elderly fellow because he didn’t provide enough mashed potatoes.
We had a great deal of support from the community. I think the newspaper placed the ad for free, Loris Catering supplied us with chafing units for the food, including the sterno for heating the units,. We gave of our time because this was Mom’s gift to the community and we were so pleased to help her out.
After the dinner we then had to clean the hall and pack things away – it was a long day and at the end of it 6:00 pm we were completely exhausted. it felt like midnight. I remember watching Lorena drag her ass into her house at the end of the day. it was a lot of work and we were tired but we felt that we had accomplished something. We made sure that we had the hall booked again for next years dinner and began to discuss things that we could do to make the whole experience smoother in year two.
Mom was so proud of what we had accomplished for her and for what she could do for those who might have been alone at Christmas. She was as proud of us as we were of her. This herculean task- a speck of an idea one year earlier -happened because of her diligence and caring for the community that she loved.
We ran the Lynam Family Christmas for the next 5 or 6 years while Mom was well enough to be a part of the event. A beautiful transition was after the first year or two Mom left us alone in the kitchen to make things happen and she visited with our invited guests and became the host to a very special event.
Mom didn’t do this for recognition or to raise her status in the community she did it because she wanted to give back in the best way she knew how-
A Lynam family Christmas Dinner.