To quote the great John Lennon:
So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
I quote Lennon as I sit here and reflect the many Christmases I have celebrated throughout my many years.
There have been numerous rich Christmases in my years. I’m not counting those as years of plenty, but more so of years of goodness and riches.
When my son, my mother and I first came to Castlegar in Oct. 1977 we didn’t have a pot to pee in. We were two single women waiting for unemployment insurance to kick in. Due to red tape we found ourselves in an precarious economic position at Christmas. I had to face the fact that my six-year-old-child was going to greet Christmas morning without a present.
My whole life I’ve been fiercely independent and refused to take any handouts from anyone. It was way beyond my nature. But that one year the stark reality of poverty hit me in the face. No matter what my intent, it became clear my child was going to face a giftless Christmas.
I couldn’t allow that.
And so I swallowed my pride and signed up for a Christmas basket which would allow us a traditional Christmas dinner and a gift or two for my son.
My heart was in my throat as I applied for the basket. I was mortified to have to ask for help.
I well remember the sting of having to pick out a gift for my son. Fortunately that sting was far less than having to face Christmas morning with a child who expected to have a gift under the tree.
The embarrassment of asking for help fell beyond my depth of pride and yet I knew that this was not about pride, but instead about doing whatever I had to do for my son.
It amazes me to this day that the people who greeted me at the gift centre were nothing but compassionate, kind and caring. It soothed that prideful hurt.
The reason I write this column today is to encourage each and every one of you to donate to the food bank at Christmas. The toy drive and food bank make a tremendous difference in someone’s life.
Today I’m in the position to give back to this wonderful community which embraced and helped a 24-year-old woman through a trying time in her life.
You might not be in that position right now, but you never know where you might be a week or a month from now.
If you can afford to give, no matter how small that might be, I encourage you to do so. You have no idea the influence and impact that the simple gesture of reaching your hand out in compassion and kindness makes such a difference.
Merry Christmas to all of you.