Yukon Dinner for Five

by Tilas T.
Yukon Territory, Canada

Yukon Dinner for Five

On Christmas night, 2003, in Watson Lake, Yukon Territory, Canada, it was snowing and around -20C° (-4F°). My brother had to work the graveyard shift at the local hotel, so my mom made up a big plate of Christmas dinner to take to him.

While we were delivering the works (including pie), a man at the front counter was renting a room. He saw the plate of food, smiled, and said “Oh wow, homemade Christmas dinner.”

“Haven’t you had dinner yet?” asked Mom. He told her no. “Well, wait here, we’ll go get you a plate.”

The man looked at my mother, shocked, and said, “Oh no, no. I have my daughter and my three grandchildren with me, please don’t worry about it.” He was going to get his family something from the bar. My brother told him all they had were those lousy pre-packaged roast beef sandwiches. And the hotel’s restaurant was closed.

Actually, in a tiny 800-person town six degrees south of the Arctic Circle, on a cold Christmas night pretty much everything was closed.

Mom told him that she would go make him a plate. He kept insisting she shouldn’t, but my mother wouldn’t hear of it. She and I came home and she dished out a huge platter from all the extra dinner we had.

Back at the hotel, we got the man’s room number from my brother. Mom knocked on the door. A young woman answered, and mom walked in with the platter, plates, forks, and a whole pumpkin pie.

The woman’s eyes went wide as she kept repeating, “Oh my gosh, thank you!”

Her father, the man we had met as he checked in, returned a moment later. He was shocked that we actually came back. It turned out the family hadn’t had anything other than chocolate bars and snacks since they started driving early that morning.

They were headed for Alaska. Before starting out that day, they’d called ahead to a small hotel to be sure it would be open. When they arrived, however, they were told there was no room at the inn. That booked-out inn was about three hours south of Watson Lake in good weather, twice that in winter.

Between towns this far north, there’s nothing on the roads but occasional seasonal gas stations (which are, of course, closed for the winter). Nonetheless, they continued down the road until they reached Watson Lake, where they could at least get a room for the night.

My Mom didn’t know these people. When she met the man at reception, she could have ignored his story and walked away. Instead, she helped them simply because she could. She shared our dinner with complete strangers so they (and we) could have a Merry Christmas. I have never been so proud of my mother in my life.

Originally published as HeroicStories #728 on October 24, 2007 

6 thoughts on “Yukon Dinner for Five”

  1. My wife is that kind of person. We live in a very remote tiny community in the Northwest Territories. It is fly-in only (no roads). Previously we lived in a similar community in Nunavut on the Arctic Ocean.

    My wife is a very kind person. We are teachers in a very little school. Children used to be hungry. No longer when school is on. My wife feeds everyone.

  2. The stories posted often remind of the power that we as individuals wield unknowingly in the lives of all those that we come in contact with. I love reading them at the end of my work day as it not only warms me but also gives me something to hope for tomorrow, especially after a rough day. Thank you for taking the effort and investing your time in circulating these stories.

  3. Such a heartwarming story! My faith in humanity has suffered such a blow as of late… Heroic Stories serves to remind me that there is still good in this world! Thank you!!

  4. In December 2005, my husband was in the ICU. Nineteen long days over the holidays, which ended when we took him home to hospice care. He actually got better and graduated from hospice, eventually getting a liver transplant; however, on Christmas Day he was in a coma and expected to die. It wasn’t strangers: in those days my church was doing Christmas dinners for anyone who wanted to come, and they delivered to homes. They delivered Christmas dinner to the ICU waiting/family room, and my family was able to have Christmas dinner (in shifts, as someone was with my husband all the time). My church women’s group also decorated my home for Christmas; I got out the boxes but I had neither the time nor the energy to put anything up. I am grateful to belong to a church family that helps each other, and those we don’t even know.

  5. So often in our modern world, Christmas becomes onerous, especially for those who have high expectations of themselves to go over-the-top in preparing, buying, catering etc. When it’s all over, there’s a huge sigh of relief and gratitude that it won’t happen again for another 365 days. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Recently a dear friend was disappointed because the family member hosting the Christmas dinner changed the plans at the last minute and her pecan pies and brownies she was going to make and take for dessert were no longer appropriate. Guess what! She made them anyways and took them to the local Catholic Church that would be serving dinner to anyone who wanted to come. Those pies and brownies were received with huge gratitude. A reminder: it is in giving that we receive, so said Saint Francis of Assisi.


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