As Canadians usher in the holiday season, we have much to be thankful for. While many places in the world are in turmoil, we enjoy relative prosperity and comfort. Despite the less-than-ideal economic conditions, Canada, and especially Nova Scotia, remains the envy of many, and for good reason.
Things aren’t perfect; there are still too many families and individuals who need help, some seemingly forgotten by their communities. However, a glance around at this time of year is a good reflection of the efforts to help those who need it.
It makes me sigh with contentment that I live in a place where acts of kindness are so numerous and frequent that organizations and fundraisers are often met with a surplus of unsolicited donations and volunteers. Few people in this area are rich, but you’d never know it based on the amount of financial support shown to every worthy cause.
One of my favourite stories to hear is of people enjoying a Christmas dinner who, if not for the kindness of strangers, wouldn’t be able to. These meals are prepared in church basements, community centres, and other equipped facilities all over Nova Scotia, by volunteers who spend hours planning, shopping, preparing, and cooking for the meal, as well as serving it and cleaning up afterward.
Another behind-the-scenes kindness is that of grocery stores in our area who, with little or no fanfare, prepare baskets of turkey dinner supplies to pass out to needy people in the community. I have seen this kind act with my own eyes, watching an employee hand deliver the box to someone’s door. You haven’t seen a look of true appreciation until you’ve seen a woman handed Christmas dinner to prepare for the kids standing in her doorway.
Last year, I was invited to participate in a Secret Santa project organized by an individual in Richmond County, who was attempting to help one family with a few presents under their Christmas tree. The call to donate items went out to her friends, some of whom put it out to their friends, and the grapevine grew quickly.
The flood of donations was so fast and furious that several families were given an incredible Christmas of surprises, all thanks to the kindness and consideration of the local community. Although there aren’t many details available about this year’s efforts, apart from donations required, it appears that the 2017 project will be just as, if not more, successful.
It isn’t just monetary donations that make a difference around the holidays. There are many things a person can do to be kind, without it costing a huge amount of money.
You can donate blood. Blood donation drops significantly around Christmas, it’s thought because everyone is so busy. That doesn’t stop the demand, however, so donating at this time of year is that much more important.
Leave a Christmas card for people who don’t expect it, like the guy in the garbage truck or the mailman. They won’t be expecting it and they probably don’t get thanked very often. There are also countless card campaigns that look for people to send greetings to soldiers deployed overseas, or to sick patients who like to receive cards in the mail. A quick search will yield many opportunities to brighten someone’s holiday with a simple card.
You can volunteer to foster an animal until it finds a permanent home.
You can offer to watch someone’s kids for a few hours so they can get a bit of shopping or errands done in peace.
You can donate clothes to a local consignment shop, and ask if there are any charitable accounts open so you can sign over your take of profits.
You can send your teenager out with the plow to clear a driveway that would take two hours with a shovel.
You can do things that take absolutely no money, but that are infinitely more valuable. Straighten up shelves in the toy aisles while the kids are browsing to help the worker who’s been doing it for six hours. Compliment a stranger. Let someone go ahead of you in the check-out line. Forgive someone you’ve been holding a grudge against.
We see different acts of kindness throughout the year and they fade in our memories. Christmas is a perfect time to remember the good things that happened during the year, and to be inspired to create new memories of kindness to celebrate.