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welcome to the December 101 Friends Newsletter

December 1, 2009

Thanks to Shirlane Colban for this wonderful Santa-Frog!

Hello friends!   I’ve just come back from walking the dog around the neighbourhood and already people have got their holiday lights twinkling and some of them have Christmas trees in the window – and, as I write this, it’s not even December yet!   Eek!

Different folks have different holiday traditions and all of them are important to us and to the networks of support; they are ways to bring us together, again and again, year after year, and deepen our connectedness by repeated experiences of something that is the same and yet, because we are always changing, different.   Last week we went to a “whimsical gift exchange” that, although it’s only a couple of years old, we’ve come to look forward to.   People bring things that they no longer want (you’re told not to buy anything for the purpose), wrapped up nicely, and we take turns choosing  a mystery gift and unwrapping it.   People getting gifts later in the game can go around and take someone else’s gift up to three times.   If someone takes your gift, you can choose a new one.    You might end up with Joanne’s baking (amazing) or this very odd set of picnic plate holders that turned up last year and then came back again this year like a bad penny.   What fun!   If we’re lucky those picnic plate holders will turn up again. 

In a couple of weeks we’ll be attending the Universal Gospel Choir, which is a tradition for many folks I know, but which I have yet to make it to.   Two of the most interesting and insightful people I know, Chris Horrocks and Avril Orloff, sing in the choir…   so not only are they amazing people to work with in any sense, but they apparently sing.   Wonderfully.   We are all layers and layers of interests and passions and it takes years to uncover all the bits…   This year thanks to a great friend we have tickets and are going as a small gang of new and old friends.   The thing that will probably happen there is that, given it’s at the Jewish Community Centre, they’ll light the menorah.    Since we were married, our family has done this every year and I’ve come to love the 8 days of Hanukah candles, each evening at dusk, the room getting brighter and brighter and my partner telling stories about the Macabees…    He and our son just got back from Connecticut where they celebrated a second (American) thanksgiving.   Some years, when they don’t go, we host a second Thanksgiving at our house for our American friends and anyone who likes turkey!   (Turkey is the reason I can’t be a vegetarian!)   Our friend Judy, known to many of you, has taught us all to barbecue turkey and it doesn’t matter how cold it is or how snowy many folks from our agency now spend their holidays outside basting and poking around over the barbecue!   Our family’s variation of this is “Jerk Turkey,” sort of  a Caribbean version of the holidays.  

So, there’s a lot more going on at this time of the year, as we traditionally have more time to spend together and more need to rely on each other, than merely shopping.   For many of us shopping is the least of it.   What’s a holiday tradition at your home or in your family?   We’d love to hear from you.  

On another note, check out for information on the recent changes to the makeup of the board of CLBC and information on how to make your views about these changes known to government.    We’ve had some amazing meetings with groups of self-advocates and got to hear lots about how people are directing their own lives and resources and making great inroads into taking their place in their communities.    Our own letter expressing our belief that folks with disabilities and their families have the capacity to give valid and thoughtful input into the direction of their services will be sent out today.  

From Susan and Aaron, and from everyone affiliated with our 101 Friends Personal Support Network project, we wish you all good things in the coming year and many, many connections with friends new and old. 

Feel free to forward this to friends or others who might be interested.   You can subscribe to the newsletter on our website or see it as a blog at  Click on any heading to read the full article.  Feel free to forward this to those you think might be interested.   Our other e-publication is also a monthly newsletter that documents the work of our agency, Spectrum Society.   You can find out more about our Personal Support Networks project, including our publications, at our site   You can also subscribe to our 101friends newsletter from this site.  If for some reason you’ve decided you don’t want to receive these newsletters, unsubscribe at the bottom of the email you were sent.   To subscribe to our agency’s newsletter, Spectrum Society In The Community, go to our main website and click on subscribe in the top right corner: you will have a choice of subscribing to this newsletter or the agency one.

“We were born to unite with our fellow men, and to join in community with the human race.” Cicero

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