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Ladysmith: Finding the Spirit of Christmas, 2019

It’s pretty easy these days to get caught up in all the consumerism of the holiday season; everyone always seems to be rushing around, fighting for the best parking spot at the mall, worrying about the best gifts for mom or the kids; all the decorating, the baking, the school concerts – the list goes on and on.

And for a lot of us, that’s the tradition – Christmas is a busy time. When you’re caught up in the Yuletide Tornado, it’s pretty hard to get perspective on the meaning of it all.

But at the end of the day, I think we can all agree that the spirit of Christmas is really about spreading joy, to everyone. Right? Here’s a couple of ideas on how you can do that this holiday season, right here in your own home town.

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Be a Secret Santa – For Real

I’m not suggesting you climb down their chimney or anything, but if there’s a family in your neighbourhood that needs some help, it’s kind of fun to help them on the sly.

This is a small town – chances are you’ve seen a kid walking home from school without a proper jacket or a toque on their head; or you know their parents might be having troubles making ends meet during the festive season. Be a Secret Santa for these folks – wrap up a coat and mittens, put a food basket together, really anything you think might make their lives a little easier or their Christmas a little cheerier.

Sneak the gift or the hamper onto their front porch on Christmas Eve when everyone’s asleep, and make sure the gift tag says “From Santa”. I guarantee you’ll be warm and fuzzy for days from the power of this goodwill. And you may end up changing the life of someone in your community.

Volunteer Locally

I know that everyone’s time is precious, and there are a great many demands on everyone’s time, especially during the run-up to December 25th. But just think of the difference you could make to someone’s day, week, month, or year, just by volunteering an hour or two of your time. You could even get the kids involved, and make it a family tradition!

The best place to start in Ladysmith is the Ladysmith Resources Centre Association. These “Heart on the Hill” folks have got volunteering down to a science. You can sign up for virtually anything – ladle out some soup, make some snacks, heck, you can even hold a baby in your arms for an hour! If you’ve got a skill – any skill! – the LRCA will find a use for it. They are quite resourceful, after all… Visit their website at https://www.lrca.ca/volunteer/ and see if something catches your eye. In the meantime, check out their fun video.

Contribute to World Vision, UNICEF, OXFAM, etc.

Every year around this time I get the World Vision catalogue in the mail, and every year it absolutely astounds me how big an impact is made in the Developing world with such a little contribution from the First. You can buy a little piglet for a family for a $40 donation. That piglet will grow, and could produce up to 20 more piglets each year after that. Just imagine the difference that will make!

You can send a struggling community two hens and a rooster for just $50, providing food, vitamins and an ongoing source of income. You can send girls to school with uniforms and backpacks. You can provide classrooms with school supplies or sports equipment, all for less than $100. Can’t figure out a present for that hard-to-buy-for relative? Make a donation in their name and send some joy to a place in the world that could really use some.

Commit a Random Act of Kindness

If you’d rather your charity were of the closer-to-home variety, that’s cool too. Joy needs to be generated everywhere – and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a grand gesture, take up a lot of your time, or be bestowed on someone half a world away. You can spread Christmas cheer right here in Ladysmith, in a thousand different, simple ways, just through random acts of kindness. Let someone have that parking spot at the mall. Hold the door open for that single mom with three kids.

Pay for the guy behind you in line at Tim Hortons. Heck, just smile at a stranger, or be a little more patient with the sales clerk who’s obviously run off their feet. You’d be amazed at how far that goes, and how good it makes YOU feel.

‘Tis the Season

My all-time favourite Christmas movie is “Scrooged”, the 1988 classic where Bill Murray’s character has the familiar Christmas Eve epiphany and finally realizes what it’s all about. I’ll end this blog with his words:

“Christmas – it’s the one time of year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more –  for a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be. It’s really a sort of miracle, because it happens every Christmas. And you can’t waste that miracle, you have to do something, you have to take a chance. You have to get involved – there are people having trouble making their miracle happen. There are people that don’t have enough to eat, there are people that are cold – well, you can go out and say hello to these people, you can take an old blanket out of the closet and say here, you can make them a sandwich and say, oh by the way, HERE.

And if you give, then the miracle can happen to you – it’s not just the poor and the hungry, it’s EVERYBODY who’s gotta have this miracle. If you believe in this thing, then the miracle can happen and then you’ll want it to happen tomorrow. And if you like it and you want it, you’ll get greedy for it – you’ll want it every day of your life, and it can happen to YOU. And it’s great, it’s a really good feeling, it’s better than I’ve felt in a long time. Have a Merry Chrsistmas, everybody. “  [ Here’s the full scene on YouTube ]

Hoping you and your loved ones have a safe and joyous holiday!

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