Jutta Kiemstedt, who lives in Germany for half the year and Canim Lake for the other half, hosts a gathering at Christmas time at her house in Germany every year, a private Christmas market.
She serves gluhwein (mulled wine), pretzels, pea soup, hot chocolate and many other treats.
In Germany, it is often customary to bring a gift — flowers, a gift or a bottle of wine — for your hosts if invited to a gathering at their house.
While Kiemstedt has, for many years, told her guests the gifts aren’t necessary, they kept coming.
“I say no, my room, it’s full of flowers. No thank you. You come, I see you one month of the year, we talk, I see you. It’s perfect, no flowers and the people come and do the same.”
This year, she came up with a better idea.
“I say no. Stop. I made a glass and said you can put a little bit of money for the children in Canada. They said ‘Oh yes, good idea.”
Kiemstedt told her guests to donate the money they would have spent on gifts, towards children and the hospital in 100 Mile House.
“I said to my husband it’s for the children in the hospital. It’s a small area, I think they need it.”
Between the approximately 65 guests that stopped by, they raised approximately 500 euros, or $720, which Kiemstedt is donating to the South Cariboo Health Foundation.
“This is the first year. Every year I say no flowers and they bring gifts, flowers and champagne and wine,” she says. “I say no, stop. I think for the children this is better than the flowers.”
Kiemstedt has been coming to the South Cariboo for around 13 years. Her husband has been coming for longer.
She says the first year she visited, she went back and forth four times during the year.
“I said to my husband that is, for me, too big. This is a long trip from Germany to Canada, maybe 26 hours and I said I will not do that anymore. I come one time, not more.”
The couple stays here for five to six months over the summer, and then returns to Givelsberg, Germany, for the winter.
“In wintertime, I go home because it’s too cold.”
The Christmas market is a way to catch up with friends, and Kiemstedt plans on doing the same sort of fundraiser this year.
“I can say to people, ‘No flowers, everytime money,’ and they can see what I’ve done.”