Yvonne and Matthew Davis II simply don't have the time – or the space.
Instead, a 500-pack of Hefty Styrofoam containers sits in a corner where the tree might be. Giant cans of green beans and sweet corn are stacked in their dining room. The oven has been working on overdrive for days.
This is what Christmas looks like when you pour your soul into giving.
It's not driving around the parking lot at the mall, hoping for a spot. It's not armfuls of red-and-green shopping bags. It's not maxing out the credit card.
For the Davis family, the giving started small. It started with Sunday meals that Yvonne, a missionary, would cook for neighbors and friends.
Then she felt a calling, a need to prepare a feast for dozens who couldn't afford one or simply were alone.
It started with an Easter meal. It soon outgrew the modest double they share in Niagara Falls. They moved the dinner to a VFW hall. Then to a larger one. They added Thanksgiving and Christmas.
They call it the Lord's Day Dinner, and Tuesday the Davis family and a group of volunteers will serve up hundreds of hot meals of ham, turkey and the fixings for those in need.
Matthew expects at least 350 people. Some years, they've had as many as 500 – all fed on faith that the community will come through with donations of food, toys and personal care items, and the donors always have.
Last week, boxes of potatoes were ready to be washed and cubed. Cranberry sauce and mayonnaise arrived. Tishnell, the Davises' 32-year-old daughter, was filling aluminum pans with noodles for macaroni and cheese.
The preparation starts weeks in advance. Cooking consumes the days before Christmas.
They don't miss traditional Christmas. Yvonne, a retired cook and certified nursing assistant, and Matthew, a semi-retired paralegal, find more joy in this than in any gifts.
The stories bubble up. A note from a child. The Girls Scouts, football players and Red Hat ladies who volunteer. The man who credits the dinner with saving his life on a lonely Christmas.
I visited the Davis home last week stressed about buying gifts. I left with a reminder that giving isn't simply about picking out the right thing on Amazon.
As Yvonne and Tishnell prepared the food, the phone kept ringing – there were more volunteers, more offers for help, more stories of need.
The Davis family will wake up early Tuesday and load the dinners into a truck. At noon, the feast will begin.
This is giving. This is Christmas.
The Lord's Day Dinner takes place from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday in LaSalle-Griffon Post 917, Veterans of Foreign Wars, at Seneca Avenue and Hyde Park Boulevard, Niagara Falls. Donations of toys and hygiene items are still being accepted. Call 284-6973.
A Christmas custom that feeds the soul
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