Christmas memories, remembering Peggy | Home Again

By Joanne Peterson | Dec 02, 2016

I remember the last two weeks before Christmas vacation when I was in third or fourth grade in Edmonds. Some afternoons we’d put away school work and pass around booklets of Christmas carols. In our childish voices, in our nondiverse classroom, we’d sing “Silent Night, Holy Night” and “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful.”

For holiday decor, we pasted bright paper chains that drooped window to window. Using our blunt scissors, we cut inelegant snowflakes from folded white paper. Teachers taped our efforts on windowpanes and left them there until January.

At Christmastime, I could count on my grandmother to match my curiosity about the gifts accumulating under the tree. She crawled beneath it with me, shaking boxes and guessing. Often my big cat, Butch, joined us, sniffing for his Christmas catnip. Occasionally, my mom walked through the room and reminded her mother and daughter that the presents were intended to last until Christmas.

Those are sweet memories, but it is significant that I led a sheltered life, taking comfort, security and Christmas for granted. If there were hungry kids in Edmonds, kids who didn’t have a merry Christmas, I had no idea.

Today I know about hunger in Edmonds and frequently mention the food bank. The Edmonds Food Bank, located at Edmonds United Methodist Church, weekly provides groceries to needy families. The annual Christmas Toy Shop, this year on Dec. 3, assists food bank clients with gifts for their children.

Peggy Kennedy, the heart of the Edmonds Food Bank for 35 years, died Nov. 22, but her legacy will endure.

This Christmas, everyone who came to know Peggy through food bank services will be remembering her spirit. Until retirement, Peggy directed the program with commitment and compassion; following retirement, she volunteered. Thousands of individuals, families and volunteers benefited from Peggy’s faith-based service.

I personally benefited from my 10 years of association with Peggy. She was the one to welcome me the first Monday I walked into the food bank to inquire about volunteering. She stopped me after church to ask, “Will you be there in the morning, sweetheart?”

Her interactions with the volunteers demonstrated her deep appreciation of every single one, and she often told us that we were what kept the program running. Simply put, she loved us all. Peggy was a combination of strength and warmth and wisdom, and I learned so much from her.

For a long time, Peggy lived in the little old house on the corner of Ninth and Caspers. It was charming, and Peggy appreciated that it stood next to the church garden – how appropriate a place for the food bank director.

The time came, though, when Peggy needed to move to an apartment, and the time came when the old house could not be salvaged. When the church sold the property to raise money for its ministry projects, Peggy and I shared a vision of uncrowded one-story Craftsmen-style cottages curving around a central green.

That dream did not come true.

When Peggy decided to retire last year, her church family at Edmonds United Methodist Church celebrated her at a special service and announced the naming of the downstairs fellowship hall “Kennedy Hall.”

She was delighted. Now, every time I look up at the plaque over the doorway, I smile. I’d guess we all do ­ – volunteers and church members.

Along with the honors the church bestowed upon her, the food bank crew planned a grand celebration in Peggy’s honor. I don’t know how many people attended – surely over 100. Need I say that many of us cried that day? People spoke with choked voices of all they had received from Peggy.

It was a memorable day – catered food and happy conversation and Peggy, smiling through it all. After the celebration, Peggy treasured a framed enlargement of a group photo taken of her that day, surrounded by volunteers.

Peggy’s memorial service is Dec. 16.

Will I get over missing Peggy, her strength and warmth and wisdom? No. Will any of us who knew her ever forget Peggy’s place in our lives? No.

If you consider a holiday food donation to the Edmonds Food Bank, think about taking your kids or grandkids with you to shop, a built-in opportunity for discussion. Or, in memory of Peggy Kennedy and her service, mail a check to the Edmonds Food Bank, 828 Caspers St., Edmonds 98020. Peggy would like that.

Another Christmas request:  Shop locally!

Go to Teri’s Toybox on Main Street, not into the clamor of a big-box store. Find something lovely in an Edmonds jewelry store. Visit Sound Styles by the fountain for a gift sweater, and next door see Garden Gear for yard art for your favorite gardener.

At Bountiful Home, tucked away at 122 Fourth Ave. S, bask in the holiday ambience while choosing something thoughtful for your sister. At the Edmonds Bookshop, buy poetry for your best friend. Check out downtown boutiques for boots, scarves or handbags.

Select a tool for Dad at Edmonds Hardware and Paint, Fifth and Maple. At the Wooden Spoon on Fifth Avenue South, choose an apron and cupcake supplies for a teen baker.

Walk around Edmonds and see for yourself our multitude of shops. Stop for lunch. Smile at strangers. Pay it forward. Say please. Visit the museum. Breathe deeply. Stop for a manicure. Admire the babies. Ride the Saturday trolley.

And tune out “White Christmas” if it makes you feel blue. (To be continued.)



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