December COMMENT

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christmas-2011-gingerbread-house-creative-commons-licence-640x453I spent a few hours last night receiving Gingerbread houses from young creative types in our neighbourhood who accepted the challenge of this year’s contest. Didi Calhoun generously donates the kits that make this contest possible each year, and in four short days all 100 kits were gone. Of those, 78 have been returned to the Masonic Lodge, with several more likely to come, where they will be on display Thursday evening. Three winners will be selected by ballots that evening, but of course, all contestants are all winners. In their creations, the house designers drew on their construction skills, worked with patterns and created their own vision of a welcoming Christmas home. How good is that?

I was reminded of the 1998 movie “One True Thing”, starring Meryl Streep and Renee Zellweger, which portrays the evolution of the relationship between a mother dying of cancer in small town New England and her career-minded daughter. As the daughter is forced to spend time caring for her mother, her disdain for her mother’s life filled with domestic duties and community efforts turns to genuine appreciation. She begins to see her mother’s life as one lived differently, a life of service with a small “s” filled with little gestures of thoughtfulness and grace. Inspired by this traditional yet unfamiliar approach to life, the daughter eventually abandons her prestigious job for the New Yorker choosing instead to use her talents in support of a community based publication.

Our society seems to value the grand gesture, the big splash and the loud noise. Here in our community, we have easy access to the dazzle and adventure of the big city, but for now, at least, we retain that small town attitude. Is it worth it to sort through your little used clothing to give it to a local organization rather than dump it into a corporate bin in a parking lot? Both actions have merit, of course, but the more directly we engage, the more meaningful our actions become. Does it really matter that volunteers on the Decorating Committee spend their time changing the scenery downtown with each season? Is it really worth it to make the effort to get out of our homes to share a spaghetti dinner for some good cause? Is it important to find ways to use our gifts to contribute to our community? You bet it is. There are many ways to serve, and as the saying goes, you usually get more back than you give.

We are very fortunate to live where we do, and many are recognizing that in tangible ways by helping others, including refugees from abroad. We are told that “From those to whom much is given much is required”.  Let’s follow the footsteps of those for whom this behaviour is second nature, and find new ways to give thanks in this season of goodwill to all men and beyond.

Happy holidays. KG

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