“In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas” this is a line from the song “Silver Bells” one of my favourite Christmas songs. I preform this song often during the holidays mostly to a captive audience – my dog Dante. Habitually I can’t stop singing the same verse over and over…

“City Sidewalks, busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style
In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas
Children laughing, people passing
Meeting smile after smile
And on every street corner you hear
Silver bells, (silver bells) silver bells (silver bells)
It’s Christmas time in the city…”

In my head I hear Dean Martin’s version smooth and languid, and believe I’m singing the song that way…probably not. This song always makes me happy at this time of year. It’s lighthearted and cheerful and puts me in the Christmas mood.

Gradually as Christmas approaches I see other people slowly getting in the Christmas spirit. The other day beside me at the grocery store checkout I heard this pure angelic voice coming from a little boy. As his mother was paying, he was casually packing their groceries and contently singing to himself in sotto voce the little “Drummer Boy.” It was a beautiful moment natural and uncontrived. I had just a few items but took my time packing them. I waited for the little boy’s pitch perfect voice to finish the song. I smiled and left the grocery store and picked up where I left off – singing “Silver Bells” with a special Dean Martin emphasis on the line “In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas.”

The Christmas season is filled with traditions as family and friends gather together to celebrate this favourite time of year. A Christmas tree tethered to the roof of car, a wreath at someone’s front door, a snowman, twinkling Christmas lights, even a little boy singing a Christmas song in a grocery store these are all things that surround us and fill us with the feeling and anticipation of Christmas. People seem to be kinder, gentler to each other and more approachable at this time of year. People are also more eager to help others less fortunate than themselves and are willing to give to those in need especially basic needs of food, clothing and shelter.

At The Salvation Army Toronto Grace Health Centre (TGHC) our ‘Tree of Memories’ is a unique and special tradition that helps our less fortunate patients who have no family or friends and arrive with little or no personal items. When you buy a star to be placed on our tree in memory of a loved one or friend, your donation is directly applied towards providing the essentials of daily living for these patients like clothes and toiletries. A dedicated staff member along with a TGHC Chaplain to go to the local Salvation Army Thrift Store and collect the clothing needed. They take the time to find proper fitting clothes and in some instances footwear to ensure the patient’s comfort. Things that can’t be found at the Thrift Store like underwear, socks or toiletries are purchased.

There are two trees displayed in the TGHC lobby that are being filled with white stars with names on them in honour of loved ones or friends. Your generous donations show our patients that they are not alone and that there are people who care. It makes a big difference to them and we thank you. For those who are thinking of donating we would like to thank you in advance.

Give Now

Jay Livingston and Ray Evans composed “Silver Bells” in the early 1950’s for the film “The Lemon Drop Kid.” The lyrics were unusual at the time because they described the holidays in the city and not a rural setting. Several interviews and periodicals cite the writer Jay Livingston stating that the song was inspired by the imagery of The Salvation Army bell ringers standing outside department stores during the Christmas season. However it came about, “in the air there’s a feeling of Christmas!”

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to the TGHC staff, patients and friends of the Grace!

By Gerry Condotta