Excuse the schmaltz, but Christmas felt like it came early for me this year. When Edmonton and the surrounding area was hit by the snow storm on Tuesday, the fellowship and good cheer of the season was clear to see everywhere I looked. On the actual evening of the storm, when everyone was being warned to stay home and off the roads, I heard a story on the nightly news about one Edmonton couple who chose to take a drive in the blizzard, delivering sandwiches and hot coffee to unfortunate souls stuck in ditches. Bless their crazy, Albertan hearts!
Much later that evening, as I was turning in for the night, I heard a bit of commotion on our front street. As it turned out, my neighbor’s daughter had just arrived home and her little Jetta was stuck in the knee deep snow of our cul de sac. Three of my other neighbors, who had probably also been on their way to bed, had chosen instead to don their parkas and venture out into the night to help the girl get safely home.
I witnessed more of the same the next day as I drove my children to school. Random strangers pushing other random strangers cars out of snow drifts. I’m sure everybody had the same job to go to and the same urgent to-do list that they did the day before but on that day, everybody seemed to have time to help.
I saw the two owners of a favorite local restaurant pushing someone out of their parking lot, a pair of high school whippersnappers heaving an elderly gentleman’s car out a snowbank and as I took to driving around with my garden shovel that day (just in case), I became part of a four-mom team, digging other moms out of the school parking lot on.
The fellow who lives across the way shoveled my sidewalks along with his own, knowing my husband was working up north this week. Likewise, when I went to my in-laws house, worried that the ever mounting snow on their driveway might be too heavy for my 78 year old father-in-law to clear by himself, I arrived to find him on his way to my house to help me!
I actually spent a lot of time on the road the day after the huge snowfall and each and every time someone appeared to be in trouble, I would see other drivers abandoning their safe, warm vehicles and jumping out to lend a hand or a cell phone or indeed sandwiches and coffee. They did it without hesitation and often with big grins on their faces.
But that’s Edmonton for you. Not to say that other people in other places wouldn’t show the same kindness – I believe they would, especially in rural Alberta – but this is the “Big City”, where you can disappear into the faceless crowd if you decide not to lend a hand on any given day. It’s not like you’ll be chastised at the next town hall meeting for leaving Farmer John on the side of the road. Indeed, the extremity of our weather provides an understandable and excellent excuse to pass on by, be glad that it isn’t us and let others fend for themselves. But that’s not how we do things here.
If you are new to the area or considering purchasing a home here, I can tell you with confidence that you will be in good hands – our extreme Edmonton weather seems to inspire extreme Edmonton kindness.