Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Christmas ... A Time To Give

In the last few days before the annual Christmas break we spent much time working with, and for, others. "Who are we working with today, Chef?", my students would ask me.

They never asked what they would get out of it.

Just two days before the holiday began we hosted some of our school's students from the Independent Living Program.
These students are simply wonderful for us and to us ... they willingly take all our laundry of tea-towels, chef hats and aprons and wash them and fold it all two or three times a week every week. Then they deliver it back to us, neatly stacked in a shabby old IKEA bag! This is part of their job-readiness preparation. We could never thank them enough for doing this every week for us, year after year, but as a small 'thank you' we welcomed these kids and their teaching aide (Karen Brant)
and teacher (Rachel Kaufman) and the co-op students who work with the class into the kitchen for a morning of cookie-making.

Cheerful chaos!
Too many people!

CHEF !!!
But, in the end everything worked out well. We all had a great time, the place was (mostly) cleaned up and cookies were made by the dozens.

That was Thursday before the holidays.


On the Friday my chef students came in and we just sat around and chatted and drank coffee ... they have worked hard every single day since September, and it was time to just 'chillax'. so we watched a few Jamie Oliver videos, an Epic Chef video and bade our farewells.

A few of them were asking me just before the class went out, "Chef, what do you think I can give people this year? I don't have much money."

Good question.

I said to my students "Look, most of you don't have much money. Some of you don't have a job yet. If you want to make your family and friends simply happy and delighted, offer them your time and talent. You are all good young cooks. Go and cook for your family and friends. Invite your friends over for a sit-down dinner party! Amaze them with your skills. It does not need to cost much, and your gift of time is more valuable than anything you can buy someone with money. Give your family and friends YOU! And you'll find you have a great appreciation of others, and the time that they have to give you. It will make you more human. The more you empty yourself out by giving, the less you will actually need to receive to feel filled-up and greatly appreciated. Give more, need less. Good luck. Happy Christmas. Away you go."

In about 3 minutes, and a few hugs later, the kitchen was quiet and the lights were all out except the little ones twinkling on our counter-top tree, reflected in the old stainless steel cupboards and countertops, bringing back memories of years of wonderful students. A little twinkle for each student, each memory, each hard-earned success.

Yes, dear friends, there IS a Santa Claus. You and me.
Thank you, parents, for always sending me only your very best kids. They are simply a delight to work with, and for.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to each of you.

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