Edmonton woman hosts strangers at Christmas
'I'd be cooking all this food anyway — why not enjoy it with other people?'
Four cats, one roast duck and a dozen strangers with nowhere else to go.
Tara Komorowska posted an open invitation for Christmas Day dinner to the social media site Reddit on Friday, offering to share her holiday feast with people who don't want to spend the holiday alone.
"Anyone need somewhere to spend Christmas?" she wrote. "I live in a crappy apartment, but I'm a decent cook and will be making lots of food.
"I have 4 cats but anyone is welcome to a warm meal, kitty cuddles and a welcoming smile!"
By Saturday morning, dozens of Edmontonians had responded. Some people already had plans, but offered to drop off food and drinks.
"Everyone's just been so warm and lovely," Komorowska told CBC News. "I've been completely overwhelmed by it. I wasn't expecting it to become this huge thing."
The 30-year-old British woman moved to Edmonton in 2015 to live with her boyfriend. She hasn't visited her family in Lancaster, U.K., since.
Friday marked her two-year anniversary in Canada.
"I am homesick and Christmas has always been my favourite time of year," Komorowska said.
"I just got to thinking how lucky I was to always have people that I love around me, even though I'm away from my family and I just feel there's a lot of people out there that don't have that."
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Her parents have an open-door policy during the holidays, Komorowska said. To take the sting out of homesickness, she decided to start the tradition at her apartment in Edmonton.
"What it's about to me is reaching out to as many people as possible and making Christmas a little bit better for as many people as we possibly can," Komorowska said.
'I feel very lucky'
On Saturday, she hosted a young family that has a child with autism. The girl's mother had contacted Komorowska through Reddit to say she wanted to attend the Christmas Day dinner but her daughter doesn't like crowds.
Komorowska invited the family to a quiet meal at her home on Christmas Eve.
"We're having such a lovely time with this family," she wrote in a text message to CBC News on Saturday evening. "I feel very lucky."
On Christmas Day, Komorowska and her boyfriend are serving traditional British food, including a roast duck and homemade trifle for dessert. The couple plans to drop off leftovers at homeless shelters in the city.
"I know that it sounds very cliché and all of those things but I'm one of those annoying people that smiles at every single person they meet," she said. "When they smile back it completely lifts my spirits and this is kind of a bigger version of that to me.
"I'd be cooking all this food anyway — why not enjoy it with other people?"