By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – a local family is opening their home to the community this weekend. A Very Cherdarchuk Christmas is the second time the owners of First Choice Tree Nursery and Garden Centre, located east of Morinville, have invited the community to enjoy the Christmas season with them.
Organizer Cory Cherdarchuk said the event has expanded from its inaugural year with more lights and decorations inside and outside as well as an expansion to the Cherdarchuk’s ever-expanding Christmas village inside their home.
“People are able to tour our home and yard and hopefully be inspired by the holiday season and the crazy Cherdarchuks and how we celebrate the season,” he said. “On the Saturday evening we’ll have Santa’s reindeer flying down from the North Pole to visit all the kids, and Santa’s even cleared his schedule for two days. So he’ll be available on Friday as well.”
In addition to meeting and having a photo taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus, Cherdarchuk said there will be plenty of fun activities for children, including an antler toss, digging in the snow and helping to vote for the six finalists in the Best Holiday Cookie Contest.
Although there is no admission charge for the event, participants are asked to make a donation to the family’s Christmas Jar of Love, a financial collection to be given to the Mazankowski Heart Institute.
The family has taken on the institute as this year’s Christmas charity after becoming acquainted with the facility last year when Cherdarchuk’s father developed heart troubles. In addition to the collection, the family is selling a hand-blown Christmas ornament this season with $10 from each sale going directly to the institute.
For the Cherdarchuk family, Christmas is an extremely important time of year, a feeling that motivates them to put on the annual open house.
“From the youngest time I can remember, Christmas has always been a special time of year,” Cherdarchuk said, adding it isn’t about the quantity of decorations used, even though his family uses a lot – quite a lot. “It’s not necessarily the stuff. It’s not the commercialization of the entire holiday. For us, it’s the spirit of Christmas. For even a month, people seem to be a little bit nicer to everyone. People seem to take a moment to reflect and say, ‘Wow. We are so lucky.’ And I think what it does for us and how we’ve been able to transform it into something larger for the community is by giving back.”
And for the Cherdarchuks, that is what Christmas is all about – giving back to the community and re-experiencing the wonderment of a child, things they wishes people would do every day of the year.
“We are so blessed to get to see children looking at our village, seeing Santa Claus – that youthful innocence that so often gets ripped away as you get older,” Cherdarchuk said. “I think if everyone just took a moment to remember that wonderment of Christmas, we’d live in a much better community and society.”
A Very Cherdarchuk Christmas takes place at First Choice Tree Nursery and Garden Centre Dec. 3 and 4 from 6:30 to 9 p.m.