The season is upon us!

Moravian police Const. Michael Hopkins helps Dilan Jacobs-Snake pick presents as part of Shop With a Cop at WalMart on Saturday.
Moravian police Const. Michael Hopkins helps Dilan Jacobs-Snake pick presents as part of Shop With a Cop at WalMart on Saturday.

’Tis the season indeed.

Signs of good tidings came on full force on the weekend. It started with the second annual Shop With a Cop event at WalMart early Saturday morning.

Imagine 50 kids, each with a police officer pushing their shopping carts, let loose in WalMart, armed with a $100 gift certificate.

Chatham Mazda from Chatham Voice on Vimeo.

Yep, lots of happy faces and lots of memories – for the kids and the cops.

This is the second year I’ve covered this event, and I hope to have the honour of catching many others. Thanks to OPP Sgt. Brian Knowler for bringing this cute concept with him from northern Ontario.

The officers pair up with kids chosen by Chatham-Kent Children’s Services, Victim Services and Big Brothers Big Sisters. They’re from less fortunate families and are given a chance to put gifts under their tree for Christmas.

Tell a child that he or she has $100 to spend and let them loose in WalMart. No wonder they require police escort.

Some were done in less than 10 minutes. Others, such as Dilan Jacobs-Snake, took a little longer. Well, much longer.

Dilan, with Moravian police Const. Michael Hopkins in tow, had to experience every toy he was interested in, it seemed. And Hopkins was awesome in his support role. I caught up to them while Dilan was looking at little toy vehicles. You could press a button and each vehicle would make an appropriate noise.

Kudos to Hopkins for not really nudging Dilan towards getting a little police car.

But as soon as Hopkins asked Dilan about an Elmo doll that was nearly as large as Dilan, the little cars were all but forgotten. Seeing his face light up as he touched Elmo was pretty special.

But seeing the interaction between officer and child was even more so.

And that was happening all over the store.

A big thumbs up Knowler for bringing the Shop With a Cop idea with him when he transferred here, and for implementing it.

But helping kids get gifts was but one aspect of the weekend that stood out. Down St. Clair Street a ways, the Boy Scouts were handing out free Christmas trees to families in need.

The Scouts had been selling the trees for about three weeks, helping raise funds for their annual canoe trips, but Leon’s Chatham, led by owner Ken Edwards, purchased all remaining trees to give out to families who normally wouldn’t be able to afford them.

For years, we’ve purchased our Christmas tree each year from the Scouts.

May the Christmas Force be with you

I’m a geek. I admit it. As I write this, I’m looking forward to seeing the new Star Wars movie. The plan is to see it on Christmas Day.

And that plan went into place weeks ago, due in no small part to what unfolded last year.

I told my daughter last year that we’d see the final Hobbit movie on Christmas Day. But cousins wanted to go earlier, and off Brenna went.

Instead, we watched “Into the Woods” on Christmas Day. I still can’t get that foul taste out of my mouth. Ugh.

And I still haven’t watched that last Hobbit flick, “The Battle of the Five Armies.”

So this year, we’re doing Star Wars. On Christmas Day. Well, maybe.

I’m cooking a ham on that day on the Big Green Egg. It should be a simple matter to set the temp and come back when the movie’s over, but this is a year with a big family dinner, so maybe we’ll have to hit Star Wars on another day.

Regardless, my daughter and I are going to see it at the same time.

Tuned up

I love rock music, as most of you know. My teen dancing daughter has mostly different tastes (although AC/DC and Iron Maiden are still on her iPod).

And my wife is mostly in my daughter’s corner.

It didn’t used to be this way. I had trained Mary’s ears over the early years of our marriage. She liked Ozzy and some of my other favourites.

But our kid, and all the pop music Mary had to endure at dance competitions swayed her to the Dance Side. Whenever I hop into her vehicle, it’s usually on some Detroit pop station. Ugh.

But she reached Pop capacity last Friday. She’d heard one too many Adele songs for one too many times. Or was it Ariana Grande? Or Lil Goof (so many “Lil” rappers, I just don’t know who’s who)?

The music pendulum had to swing back to hard rock to give my wife balance. But I didn’t realize how close to the edge she’d gone. Here she is writing a story at the office Friday listening to the likes of Disturbed and Five Finger Death Punch. And liking it!

Hey, these guys are typically a little too hard for my liking. I had to offer up options for her and the best I could do was Black Label Society, Pantera and Rob Zombie, and I’ve only heard a smattering of songs from them.

But Mary needed heavy metal medicine, so I had to assist the best I could.

It obviously worked, as by that night she and the kid were watching 8 Mile and listening to Eminem together.

As for me, I cowered in the basement staring at my Lynyrd Skynyrd wall hanging.


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