Every once in a while, I need a reminder about the good things in life.
I had been poised to write my Just Cause column about Christmas morning for people who have no money, no home, no family, or worse, who have children and cannot give them what the holiday seasons of the 21st century dictates now that commercialism, materialism and gift indulgence have taken the upper hand in what used to be a non commercial holiday prior to the 1950’s.
Christmas morning is the darkest hour for many in B.C. where the child poverty rate, again, is the worst in Canada for the eighth year in a row. Half of those children have at least one parent working fulltime, year-round. Added to them are those children with parents employed part time. Christmas morning reinforces the hopelessness and indignity parents feel when they paid their hydro bill instead of buying new toys for the kids. If they have family, they have asked for food, not I-pods. If they receive charity, the hamper and angel tree donations will help, a lot, but there is just cause to ask what will people in the community do for the families and individuals struggling January through October.
My favourite Christmas movie is Christmas Carol because of the lessons about Christmas, social injustice, poverty and kindness.
The author, Charles Dickens, wrote: “I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”
But this is where my column goes in a direction I had not anticipated. This morning when I came into work, there was a Christmas parcel and a card sitting on my desk. It was from a grandmother who had taken a pottery class with her granddaughter. She wrote inside the card that she had been thinking about the homeless and thought about “pottery with a purpose.” Inside the Christmas parcel was a little family she had created, mother, father, two children, and logs on a fire, their fire, keeping them warm. This was a decoration and a reminder to me that in spite of my frustrations that I often write about – there are many who do care and have empathy and just need positive ways they can be encouraged to help the cause.
The pottery family – elegant, poignant, who will sit on top of my desk year-round as a symbol of hope and reassurance, must remind us all that while the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas season brings out the best in people, find a way to give not just of your finances, but of your talents, skills, knowledge and ideas, all the time! Let the holidays be a starting point to year-round giving so that those who have been left out in the cold will always feel the warmth.