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How do you feel about the Christmas season?

It may very well be the most polarizing time of year. For many, it inspires nostalgia. It harkens back to simpler days, and is a timeless reminder of family, friends and the spirit of giving. Everything from the music, to the lights, to the jam packed shopping centres seem a catalyst for all things good and merry in the world.

But what about those who don’t have any family? Those whose childhoods were not the cheerful and loving cliché’s you see in the movies… And those who – particularly at this time of year – are forced to re-live all the trauma, pain and neglect that comes with seeing the ubiquitous smiles of joy on other people’s faces?

The homeless are united in their experience of unimaginable losses. Whether the loss of innocence that comes from childhood abuse, the loss of a loved one through some tragic accident, or the even just the loss of their home and livelihood – the scars run deeper than most of us will ever know.

So at The DI, we do everything we can 1524672_564351793647266_358995000_nto try and make this season a little bit easier. We provide a hearty Christmas feast – with turkey dinner and all the trimmings. We ensure everyone receives a stocking by their bedside when they wake up on Christmas morning – filled with small value gift cards and much needed hygiene supplies. And we welcome volunteers in droves – knowing that any sense of community is surely better than spending the day feeling isolated and alone.

We do all of this with the hope that – if just for one day – our clients don’t feel like they’ve been forgotten.

But there is one thing we do that’s just a little more meaningful. Something that adds a touch of magic to the season. Magic that most of our clients have resigned to thinking is all but gone for good.

The DI’s Christmas Wishlist is going on its eighth year. And each December, we see hundreds of clients sign up. You would be amazed what it does for them when we ask what their one modest wish would be on Christmas Morning.  You see their genuine appreciation in our assurance that it will be granted by someone who simply cares.  By someone whose only motivation is their overwhelming compassion and a warm desire to spread the love and consideration that every person deserves. You see a long forgotten sense of hope.

With the hard work of volunteers and generous help of the community, we are always awestruck at the response. In the near decade we’ve offered this holiday perk, we’ve never had to deny a client their Christmas Wish. It’s truly a one of a kind experience to see their faces when they receive a special, personalized gift from someone they don’t know, nor will likely ever m1393174_564351646980614_2050883628_neet.

Who doesn’t remember being a kid, writing letters to Santa? We’d spend hours on end going through the Eaton’s catalogue, meticulously detailing every little thing we’d been wanting over the past year. Even to this day, many of us still send Christmas lists to loved ones looking for inspiration in their hectic shopping adventure. The presents matter less now than they did back then, but the feeling of being thought of is still important as ever. And the same goes for every client who takes part in the Christmas Wishlist.

If you’re looking for a way to give back this holiday season, please take the time to visit www.calgarywishlist.ca and sponsor a client’s wish. You can’t imagine the difference it will make for someone in need of a stranger’s kindness.