One family made new Christmas traditions this year.
Logan Hermus of Red Deer County said he was looking to strip the season of all its tinsel and lights and get back to the bare bones of what the holiday was supposed to be all about.
“I was getting so fed up with the materialistic idea of Christmas,” said the 17 year-old.
“We were getting run down and stressed out by it. We didn’t need any more gifts. We’re a pretty blessed family and have almost everything you could ask for. I thought it was time to help out someone else who could use a hand.”
Hermus, brother Brock, 14, mother Carol, and father, Terry Wengberg, took a hiatus from the bustling shopping malls and gift wrapping and instead showed up at the Red Deer Hospice Society on Christmas morning to prepare a turkey lunch for its residents and their families and friends.
The family had no previous connection to the hospice but a co-worker of Hermus’s, Shelby Colling, recommended it as a place the family could do some good.
“She’d worked here before and told me it was a wonderful place that could use some extra help at this time of year,” Hermus said.
Marian Cloutier, the fund development and marketing co-ordinator at the Red Deer Hospice, was thrilled to have the newcomers cooking in the kitchen.
A hospice nurse’s family pitched in with the meal in 2012 and it was refreshing to have a group of strangers express interest this year.
“I think it’s amazing that a family with two young boys would choose the hospice as a Christmas service project,” Cloutier said.
The family along with another long-time volunteer and hospice cook Robyn Reid helped season the turkey, peel vegetables, mash potatoes, mix gravy and scoop out dressing.
Another volunteer came in during the afternoon to play Christmas carols on the piano for the residents.
Carol joked it was a Christmas miracle in itself to see her husband peeling so many carrots.
“He’s peeling carrots like I’ve never seen before,” she said with a laugh.
When Hermus proposed the idea of volunteering together rather than have a bunch of gifts bought for them, it “lifted a weight” off of Carol’s shoulders, she said.
“I was touched when Logan came to us with the idea . . . Rather than drive around, try to find the best gift for everyone and all that jazz, we just got a few things for each other’s stockings and that was it. It’s much less stressful and we’re here together, really spending time talking and helping out.”
Carol hopes the new family tradition carries on, extending beyond the yuletide.
“People need help all year long, not just during the holidays so hopefully we can make it into something we do on a fairly regular basis,” she said.