I was standing on a street corner in downtown Langley talking to a friend, sharing small town memories. We were admiring the Christmas lights scattered among the trees. This time of year becomes nostalgic for even the toughest among us. Many a strong man will not admit to shedding a tear during the last scene of It’s a Wonderful Life, but that message about small town values and the richness of friends hits home to all of us.
My friend was telling me about his first visit to Langley many years ago. He was looking to move somewhere in the Lower Mainland. When he was asked exactly what he was looking for, he thought for a minute and replied, “I want some place with trees.” “Go to Langley” he was told, so he took a drive out and liked what he saw.
“I went to a store and picked up the local paper to get an idea of prices and what was available. The front page picture and story was about a woman who had achieved a perfect crib hand. I read that and decided that if a perfect crib hand was front page news in this town, that’s where I wanted to live.”
He raised his family here, schooled them here and still volunteers here.
I’m sure if I gave all of you a few minutes right now, you would recall your home town and the reasons you settled there and the charm that kept you there. My parents often shared Christmas memories about late night sleigh rides home from school Christmas parties, where ribbon candy and Japanese oranges were the presents from Santa and the bells on the horses accented the snap of the Northern Lights overhead. Simple memories of small towns stay with us.
I wonder which of today’s headlines will attract new folks. Certainly the trees are disappearing, so not many new people will come here looking for that. Will it be a story about the new transit bus connections that will whisk them from their cubicle homes to their cubicle offices? Will it be a story about new developments being built and the investment opportunities they might bring? Maybe they have young kids and the stories of Langley’s successful sports teams and first-class venues will be enticing.
I encourage anyone planning to move here to look past the headlines. Langley City and Township still have small town values. At the Langley Christmas Bureau we see that every day. As more and more people need our help, more and more residents step up to help out.
Like the gentleman who retired last December. Every month when he received his cheque, he would buy a new bike. He brought in 12 new bikes to give away. A nine-year-old boy and his mom stopped by. He had asked all the kids coming to his birthday party to bring an unwrapped toy for the Christmas Bureau. He donated his gifts and the cash from his two grandmas.
We have had two former recipients of our hampers come in and sponsor families, now that they are back on their feet. Both of them told us they wouldn’t live anywhere else. This community gave them dignity and hope and this is where they want to raise their children.
Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees. You just have to look a bit deeper to find the secret. At least that’s what McGregor says.