Editorial: It’s the most craziest time of the year

Trent Ernst, Editor
This past weekend, the Tumbler Ridge Community Centre was more akin to a big-city mall than the typical small town community centre it is. Not because it suddenly sported a La Senza and a Coles Books, but because of the sheer volume of people who passed through the doors. 
On Saturday alone, the library featured the 10,000 Villages Craft Fair, featuring fair trade goods from around the world. This is an annual tradition in town, as it is also traditional for me to head straight to the table with all the various percussion instruments and start showing off my mad hand-drum skillz. 
Outside the library, in the foyer, and spilling over into both rooms four and five and the senior’s centre was the annual TRISPs craft fair. Here, handmade clothing, decorations, dolls and food line tables as vendors gently vie for your attention and business. It’s a bit like a traditional bazaar, though as Canadians, most people haven’t quite got the hang of the high-pressure sales tactics you’ll find in outdoor malls in the middle east, instead opting to sit and wait for folks to approach them. 
Those two events are more than enough to pack out the upstairs of the Community Centre, but in the immortal words of late-night infomercials everywhere: but wait, there’s more! 
Downstairs in the arena, there was a full-on hockey tournament, with parents and munchkin’s alike filling the stands and spilling out into the rest of the community centre. 
If that wasn’t enough, Community Centre Staff were madly at work trying to finish up the new indoor playground. As a result, this area was blocked off, both reducing the amount of available space for bodies to occupy and taking away this option for kids to play in, focusing the crowds even more. 
The night before, instead of a hockey tourney, the Lions had a disco skate, which drew in a fair amount of bodies as well. Navigating the skater’s lounge was an exercise in avoiding stepping on discarded boots and jackets and tiny children. 
While one of the best things about Tumbler Ridge is getting away from the crowds that inhabit the cities, every once in a while, it’s nice to see a large percentage of the population of town come to the same place, especially for events such as these. 
At the top, I said the Community Centre was akin to a mall, but it isn’t. Not really. While the crowds of people might on the surface seem the same, they’re not. In the malls in the city, people rush around looking for Christmas presents. In the Community Centre, people did not rush as much as they sauntered. Browsed. Stopped and talked to people. Enjoyed the chance to get out and see what sort of creative work the artists and craftspeople of Tumbler Ridge have been coming up with over the last year. Checked out the selection of coffees in the library. Watched a game or two. 
These are not exercises in consumerism as much as they are exercises in community. And while I will be among the first to start whining in WalMart—”Is it time to go yet? I’m bored. My feet hurt. I’m getting a headache.”—during the Christmas season rush, I don’t mind going to the Community Centre at times such as these, when the community gathers. 
The next time the Community will gather will be for the Holly Jolly Christmas Celebration, happening December 6. This year’s celebration will have a lot of the same old same old that happens every year, but you know what? That’s okay. There’s a reason traditions are traditions. Snap a photo with Santa. Watch as the Christmas Tree gets lit up. Sing along with the Tumbler Ridge United Musicians and Performers (TRUMP). Listen to the Adult Community Choir. Watch the Elf Rebellion, a play by the Grizzly Valley Players. Yes, it will be a little chaotic, and there will be tonnes of people there. That’s okay. It’s a community event, and you need other people to make up a community. 
More than anything, though, the ever-larger crowds at these events remind me that this is a community that has come through the bad times of a decade ago, not unscathed, but with a new life and a new vitality. Are there issues facing us a community? Most certainly. But as we pass by the American Thanksgiving and enter the Christmas season, I’m reminded once again of why I love living here. It’s not just the people (I can find more people in Metrotown on any given day), but the fact that it’s you people. The ones that take part. Who volunteer. Who participate. And who give back to this place that has become home.