Christmas Magic

We were at the right place at the right time. They were at the right place at the right time. What happened was it little bit of Christmas magic.

I think it was 1991 and the ad agency, Bryant Fulton and Shee (aka TBWA Vancouver) was at its peak. One of our clients, BC Children’s Hospital reached out to us for some extra help with the holidays. A little girl was going though cancer treatments and it was taking its toll. We were asked to “adopt” the family.

A notice went up in our staff kitchen with a request for a couple of presents. The age of the girl and her siblings were given with a few “Santa wishes.”

I have no idea how or why this little note caused such a flurry. Maybe it was because our boss, Darrel Shee, spent so much time reading about the family and looking at their picture.

Darrel made us think.

The gifts began to pile up. It started small with a couple of toys for each of the kids. The agency media director gave a new Seiko watch for the mom. Of course that meant we needed to get a great sweater for Dad!

Soon we added an elaborate chart to make sure we were covering all the bases.

Lunch time and coffee breaks were spent scanning the list and thinking what else could be done.

We couldn’t cure this little girl but we could ease the family’s burden.

Parking passes for hospital.

A Christmas tree, ornaments and a stand… we can’t forget the stand.

Lots of Safeway gift cards. Boxes of canned goods and everyday essentials.

A turkey, and for sure a pot big enough to cook it in.

And lots of gifts from Santa to be opened on Christmas morning.

We knew the family didn’t have much so the goal was to give what would be needed to have the best Christmas and food to last for the next six months.

I was one of the lucky few that made the delivery to their little home. A whole van load of Christmas cheer. The family just stood and watched as we carried in boxes and boxes and stacked them in the narrow hallway.

The goal was to not make this look like a charity ploy. We didn’t want them to feel uncomfortable. But as we were leaving the whole family stood in a line and hugged each of us. I cried.

Back at the agency we gathered in the big boardroom to share what had happened. Darrel spoke about the true meaning of Christmas. The agency was known for its famous ads for Kokanee Beer and Earl’s Restaurants but I think we were prouder of what we had done for that family than any creative awards we had ever received.

We made some magic happen and that is what Christmas should be about.

Months later I read the notice that the little girl passed away.


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