Christmas heroes come in many different sizes and forms.
This current holiday season, Toronto police, Hydro workers and firemen, came to the rescue of many Toronto citizens caught without power during our recent crazy ice storm.
Many Toronto residents, pitched in, and gave warm sanctuary to cold and power-starved Toronto citizens. Sometimes whole families. Sometimes complete strangers.
These people are all heroes in my book.
But here is another funny/sweet Toronto story that is worthy of mention.
This is the Christmas story of my friend Phil, the accountant. A pudgy, unremarkable, sort of dorky guy, who came to the rescue of a beautiful blonde damsel in distress. And gave this beautiful woman, her best Christmas, in a very long time.
I have known Phil for many years. We hang out in a midtown Toronto restaurant/ bar, where not only every one knows your name. But they know the names of your ex wives, the lovers of your ex wives and your current and former girlfriends.
Sort of like the famous "Cheers", except bartender Sam is played by a foul-mouthed, gossipy Jewish Lady Macbeth, affectionately known as "Sweet Sue".
Phil is of the Hebraic tradition, and the last time he celebrated Christmas, was when he was 10 years of age. His parents, bowing to peer pressure, brought home a Hanukah bush, ( a short stubby tree). And gave Phil his first and last Christmas, that Phil still remembers nostalgically.
Apparently, early on Dec. 23, Phil received a frantic call, from one of his clients. A very well-known local Toronto publicist, aka "D".
"D" is a woman in her 40s. She is single, beautiful, funny and strangely, has never been married.
Phil often refers to her as his Wasp Goddess.
Phil is also a single, in his 50s. Has never been married. Truth be told. He is a bit of a nebbish. But a nice guy, nonetheless. I think he has a secret crush on the delightful "D".
It seems that "D" has had a string of eligible men friends over the years. But not one of these, UCC-educated, B&R/Toronto Lawn clubbies, banker/biz types, has ever bought "D" a Christmas tree for her place.
"D" suspects that these Rosedale suitors associate Christmas trees with marriage, family and children. And not with hot blonde party girls, who seem to prefer Tiffany bling to stringing Taffy apples and tinsel on the Christmas tree.
Except for this blonde chick, who has been secretly storing a treasure chest of Christmas balls and baubles, in the hope that one day her Prince Charming would come a calling with a Christmas tree.
But once again no Christmas tree this year for "D". Which would have been tolerable, because "D" was planning to escape Toronto for her parents' place in the Windsor area. To celebrate Christmas, with tree, turkey and all the trimmings.
But the ice storm struck. A large maple tree fell on "D"'s garage. Her car was taken hostage. And "D" was left stranded in Toronto.
Hence "D"'s frantic early morning call to Phil, in Montreal, (who was enduring another forced family holiday with his dysfunctional relatives).
Phil thought he heard a "cri de coeur" from "D". She was heartbroken. She was not going to see her mother and father. There would be no family dinners, Christmas tree, exchanging of gifts, or the traditional family fight between her and her younger sister. In other words, no Christmas, at the Inn this year.
Phil confided to me that he felt his Jewish heart was suddenly struck with the spirit of Christmas. He was going to save Christmas for "D".
So from Montreal, Phil called his Home Depot contact at the Richmond Hill store. And ordered the last remaining Christmas tree.
He then powered up his trusty grey Hyundai Accent and drove like a madman from Montreal to Richmond Hill to pick up the last remaining Christmas tree.
Upon arriving at Home Depot at around 2 pm, Phil faced his next test of manhood. Apparently, Phil's tree was in a little tree farm in the back of Home Depot. In order to free this tree, he had to cut it down with an axe.
Phil, like most Jewish men, myself included, not very handy with tools. Not very good with manual stuff. Our hands were for playing the violin, ball hockey, golf and tennis. Not for cutting down trees. Luckily, Phil was able to retain some red flannel-shirt wearing, tattooed, woodsman, or woods person, on staff, to cut down Phil's tree and mount it on his Hyundai.
About two hours later, Phil drove up to "D"'s petit Rosedale manse and with his short, stubby, Hanukah bush-like tree.
Phil, drawing upon reserves of strength, he thought did not exist, manfully carried "D"'s tree up to her second floor loft.
"D" was shocked. Stupified. And then this hard-edged, tough TO publicist, cried like a newborn babe.
She hugged Super Phil. Gave him a kiss smack on his lips. Then "D" brought out an array of Christmas tree tchotskes, that she had lovingly saved from her childhood ( balls, baubles, angels, coloured lights, miniature Santas, Pillsbury dough boys, and dollhouses)
Phil told me they trimmed the tree for hours. "D" was beaming like a schoolgirl, recalling her warm family times around the tree as a kid. The little child in "D" suddenly shone through. And they drank lots of wine.
This was Phil's best Christmas ever, and one of "D's" best.
Phil has rejoined his gym. And "D" has promised to take Phil to Harry Rosen for some new threads.
I am not sure romance is in the air. But for a brief moment, Phil was a hero. "D" saw him in a new and more attractive light. And two totally different people, felt the wonder and humour of Christmas.
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