by Tilas T.
Yukon Territory, Canada
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.