The trucks rolled by us one-by-one, covered in holiday themed scenes and covered in tiny, multi-cloured lights that twinkled in the rain-damp air. The drivers played Christmas tunes loudly on their air-horns; passengers inside and on the backs of trucks waved and smiled to the happy people gathered to watch from both sides of the roadway.
My husband and I chose to watch the annual Island Equipment Owners Association (IEOA) Truck Light Convoy and Food Drive near Watkiss and Helmeken. We arrived early to pick up a coffee at Tim Hortons, and then found a great spot mid-way up the ramps behind Quality Foods. The light rain that had been falling for most of the day left pools of water along the railings, but we leaned on them anyway, ignoring the wet that seeped through our coat sleeves. There was so much to watch and enjoy.
Even before the trucks arrived, the light from the street lamps reflected off droplets of water hanging on the young trees that were planted close to the sidewalks, and down the road to our right, the lights from inside the General Hospital glowed in the thin mist that hung in the air. To our left, we could see that someone had set up an awning with white icicle lights and people warming their hands by an open fire. Across the road from us, people who had come prepared settled into lawn chairs and snuggled under fleece blankets. People of all ages moved to find their places, some carrying glowsticks and others wearing strings of blinking lights around their necks. Parents carried small children lovingly on their shoulders, encouraging them to be patient just a little longer—the trucks were coming.
And when they came, the parents pointed out what was different or special about each truck and children laughed at the comical scenes of inflatable Santas riding on the backs of trucks and reindeer pulling sleighs on top of double-decker buses. We all lingered to watch the last of vehicles wind their way around the back of the hospital, sharing the magic of the lights with the staff and patients watching from their windows.
The crowd dispersed as peacefully as it had formed, and even though it took at least 10-15 minutes for people to clear the parking lot, no one honked their horn or yelled at other drivers to get out of the way. That's one of the magical things about this time of year: coming together to share the holiday season with family, friends, and strangers. We have more patience. We show more care and love for others around us. The lights push back the darkness that often causes us to treat others with disrespect. The lights help us to smile more, to help others who are slower, to make way for those who are faster, and to help those in need.
Just as so many people came together for the truck parade, I hope you will join us for our public Chanukah celebrations as we light one more candle each night to push back the darkness. In Victoria, we'll gather in front of the Legislature on December 22 at 3:30 pm. Along with short inspirational speeches from government officials, Rabbi Kaplan, and members of our community, we’ll enjoy hot chocolate and doughnuts (fried foods are a must at Chanukah!)
I feel blessed to be able to enjoy the many traditions and displays of love and caring that come at this time of the year, and to share our traditions and blessings with the entire community.
Public menorah lighting times: (https://www.chabadvi.org/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/4559163/jewish/Legislature-Lighting.htm)
Fiona Prince, MA is a coach, facilitator and teacher who provides fundamental communication and writing skills to help people succeed in their professional and academic lives. She worships at the Chabad Family Shul where she volunteers teaching children and adults how to read Hebrew. Sign-up for weekly communication tips at www.princeheron.com. To learn to read Hebrew, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Morah means teacher and Faiga is her Hebrew name).
You can read more articles on our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking, HERE
* This article was published in the print edition of the Times Colonist on Saturday, December 14th 2019
Photo of Victoria truck parade by the Times Colonist