The “L” Word

In less than a month Christmas will be upon us. For those of us who have close family ties and friends to share our days it can be a day of pure joy. For those who do not, well, it can be a time of great loneliness and pain. Christmas tends to have great focus on family, as it should, but often in our hurry and scurry we forget how hard this time of year can be on people who do not share in our blessings, for whatever reason. I am trying to be cognizant of this fact.

I have been immersed in reading a series of books called “The Angelic Letters”. The series includes seven books focusing on Christianity; on family; on morals and values; on the “L” word and what it means to each of us. It is a very insightful series written by Henry K. Ripplinger moving from the mid 1950s through to present days. Although at times I find it a bit preachy it is also inspiring and at times very hard to put down (hence my silence of late).

For many of us as the Christmas season approaches we turn again to that centuries old prayer of ‘peace on earth, goodwill to all’. Many of us turn with compassion to our fellow citizens who are suffering many burdens. It is easy to give up, to be overwhelmed by the great need we see all around us – both in our own communities and in the world at large. Yet, small efforts can bring huge rewards (even if we often do not see them). We never know what our small gifts may mean to someone who is carrying heavy loads. To love our neighbor doesn’t mean making grand gestures. Quite often, and, I would say 99.9% of the time it is the small gifts we bring: a smile; looking a person in the eye and recognizing their humanity; little things like a hot coffee on a cold day, perhaps. The thing is, we do not have to spend any money at all to bring Christmas cheer to another. The best gifts we can give come from our hearts, not our wallets. But, by all means, if we have the financial wherewithal to do so, we should do that as well.

Divine One, as we celebrate this sacred season, help us act with love and true humanity. Help us recognize the divinity that lays at the essence of each and every human heart. And let us not be afraid to utter the “L” word.

From Twelve to One

And peace on earth goodwill to all

Once again, I am writing about Christmas, but this is about something that really bothers me. I was raised Catholic, and maybe that’s partly why I have always thought of Christmas as a season and not just one day. The Christmas tree went up on the 24th of December and was not taken down until after Olde Christmas Day on the 6th of January. When I was a child Christmas meant going to church, visiting my grandparents, and spending time with family and friends. When I was very little there was a lot of excitement surrounding gifts and anticipating what Santa might bring, but as I grew older, and especially after I had children of my own, I grew to appreciate the beauty of Christmastime. And not just the scrumptious food and merry-making, but the deeper, long-lasting values of selfless giving; of the importance of goodwill, faith, peace and love. The charitable impulses often lost in the daily grind are more on display at Christmas than at any other time of year. Thankfully that still seems to be the case today.

Yet, in this more secular world are we losing out on some of these values? A young person I worked with seemed aghast when I said I might wear my Christmas sweater to work on the 27th – I had been telling an employee who was not there last year about how chilly the place is after being closed a few days and how she should wear something warm. My Christmas sweater is very warm. At any rate, my young co-worker was surprised at the idea of my wearing it after Christmas day. It led me to wondering once again about how fast-paced life has become and how the season of Christmas seems to grow shorter and shorter year after year. It saddens me. Have the ‘twelve days of Christmas’ been shortened to only one?

What does Christmas mean to you? Is it only one day out of the year, or like myself, do you see it as more than that? I think, more than ever, we need that spirit of goodwill; of peace on earth. And we need to have more than just one day to celebrate it.

Statistics say….


Statistics can tell us many things, but they are only numbers without a human face, empty of feeling, empty of meaning.  On November 19, 2016 my brother was killed by an impaired driver and became one more number in the unending string of statistics that represent human beings snatched from life.  No, they did not die – they were cruelly and forever taken from the daily lives of their family and friends; senselessly slaughtered on the highways and byways without a second thought by the people who choose to tip back a bottle or a glass. Death by any other means would be acceptable, though painful, for those of us left behind – this needless and sudden wrenching away of loved ones must be stopped, but how?

Several of my family members are petitioning government for stricter laws, and I applaud them, but I think it goes deeper than that. I think it is still socially acceptable to drink and drive and that needs to change. And going even deeper I believe alcoholism and drug abuse are symptoms of people in extreme pain who are using either alcohol or drugs to self medicate, to numb the pain. Our mental health care is sadly lacking while government racks up millions in taxes from the sale of alcohol. What good will it do to lock people up once the deed is done? That is not to say people should not be held accountable for their actions for indeed they should, but we also need to look at ourselves as a society and ask ourselves what value we put on human life.  My brother is more than a statistic and I need people to know that.

New Perspectives

It is chilly and pouring rain at Sylvan Lake this morning. The other morning we woke up to a dusting of snow on the ground. At one time that would have depressed me, but after the wildfire in Fort McMurray I look at rain and snow much differently now. As one evacuee said, “I will never complain about shoveling snow ever again!”  We are heading out to Banff today and I have to admit I was hoping for a bit of sun so I could get photos of the stunning beauty of the mountains. However, the rain is much needed after a winter of little snow and while the sun glinting on the mountaintops is lovely, so too is a raindrop on an open leaf.

There is something about natural disasters that brings home all that is truly important in life. Family, friends, pets, nature – they have always been important to me, but now– well, I hug my loved ones tighter. I am more patient and less inclined to give much thought to things more shallow, and in the greater scheme of things, of little worth.

I am grateful. I am grateful for the blessings of family and friends and fur babies; for the kindnesses extended not just to me personally but to all evacuees; for being able to witness this outpouring of human goodness.  Life can be challenging at times but life is also very, very good!