We have a lot to be grateful for this festive season

As one ages the stuff under the tree isn’t nearly as important

By Doug Thomson

As 2018 knocks on the door, it’s time to do a little counting of blessings. We spend a whole lot of the rest of the year complaining, so when a chance comes up to share a few positive ‘vibes’ it shouldn’t be ignored.

When you are my age the first and most obvious blessing is to wake up in the morning in my bed and not in a box. Certainly, during the various pandemics of the 18th and 19th centuries, this was a not always assured.

Nobody wanted to spend a lot of time with disease victims, there being no cures, so they tended to be buried rather quickly. It seems the odd mistake was made and a not-yet-dead patient was buried. This, in turn, spawned a spate of safety coffin patents that pictured a variety of signalling devices and escape mechanisms designed to save the day.

I could ‘t find any authoritative evidence to indicate these things were successful or even if they were ever used, but regardless, I’m glad to be kicking and doing it above ground.

I’m glad for the growth of the indigenous movements in Canada. The revelations of past abuses and the anger they provoke are distinctly uncomfortable for a non-indigenous guy like me, but it is a healthy discomfort.

The various First Nations in Canada are finding their voices and they are saying clearly that they are sick and tired of being second-class citizens and they won’t take it anymore. I can’t, for the life of me, find fault with that position. Good stuff, my indigenous friends.

I’m delighted with the diverse Canadian culture. The rich cultural mosaic of our nation is genuinely wonderful. Sometimes I hear nonsense about, “… we are losing our culture…,” especially around this time of the year, but come on, really, that train left the station a long time ago and it had nothing to do with other cultures and different religions.

The real Christmas tradition was lost to secularism and crass commercialism long before most (and more likely any) of us were born. We are all free to believe and are equally free to worship as we wish. As many religions have solstice traditions there will be lots of devout celebrating. That is to be revered.

I’m thankful for the commitment and sacrifice of those who dedicate their time and energy to public office at all levels. Holding public office is not for the faint of heart and our representatives often suffer a whole lot of abuse for their dedication. Most fill their roles without glamour and with little recognition, so a heartfelt thank you to Mayor and Council, to our Member of the Legislative Assembly and our Member of Parliament – well done ladies and gentlemen, well done.

Another big shout out to all those who volunteer in the community. We always get caught up in our busy lives or our own volunteer activities and sometimes forget that there are others volunteering all over the place.

Some devote their time to kids in the arts and sports, some with the elderly, still others with food banks and shelters, and hospitals and concerts; there are those who shovel their neighbours’ driveways and mow their lawns, pick up garbage, put on events and generally make the community a better place to live in. They give their time, knowledge, skills and energy without any expectation of reward, and that is wonderful.

Then, of course, there are the people and businesses who give so generously to the many non-profits and charities in the community. Everyone in a small community is asked to give, over and over, and Kitimatians keep doing that – giving without complaint – it is truly encouraging.

Toddling back to the personal/home front I am really happy that my/our (mine when they are good, Linda’s when they aren’t) kids have turned out to be superb adults and wonderful parents, that they are happily employed, have supportive and loving partners and never require us to send money any more. Wow! It is so amazing to visit them and see they are competent, able to clean a bedroom, make dinner and raise their own kids. The latter, of course, means we are grandparents and can experience the delight of grandchildren.

Finally, and most important, I am blessed with a partner of 46 short years who has put up with me for that long. We met in grade 7, so actually have been hanging around each other for about 56 years now, and that’s a pretty good run these days.

I used to sit behind her in Grade 7 Science class and like any healthy grade 7 boy spent a lot of time pulling her hair … a true harbinger of good things to come.

So, there we have just a few of the long list of things about which to be happy and content. The thing to note is that none of them are “things”. The important stuff is always about people and relationships.

Oh, we all like “things”, sure, but certainly as one ages the stuff under the tree isn’t nearly as important (which is a good thing because there is far less of it). So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. May 2018 be a wonderful year for us all!

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