To say that this has been a trying year is no exaggeration. Yes, but every year has been trying for at least a segment of the population. True, indeed, but this year that segment has grown larger.
The pressure of survival reached higher up in the class structure than at any other time. Survival is no longer a problem for the “traditional” homeless, the orphans, those who sit on downtown grills for warmth or those who barely make it on social transfers.It now reaches into homes we once felt were financially secure – the home with both parents working at what we thought were reasonably paying jobs.
Soaring costs for food, shelter, rents, mortgages, basic living necessities, have sent them off to food banks to supplement the little they can afford. This is not the best of times, and, therefore, it is a perfect time for those who do not need the food bank to count their blessings and think about the message of Christmas.
It is worth remembering that despite some of the shortcomings of our country, Canada remains a prosperous and safe place to live. A more humane place than most of the countries around the world. So, we should think of the ties that bind Canadians of all backgrounds, colours, creeds, and points of view; they are morepowerful than that which separates us.
We know that Canada has faced many difficult times in its past, bent but did not break, and emerged to build a place for one of the most diverse populations in the world.
It is clear that given the frightfully high cost of living that the gifts will be fewer and the Christmas celebrations of necessity will be somewhat low-keyed, but we will carry on.
We must also remember that the ranks of the needy has swelled to include a larger number of refugees to whom we need to open our arms and extend our generosity as the spirit of Christmas demands.The spirit that is embedded in the simple Nativity story in which Jesus was born in a humble stable because his parents could find no room at the inn, should be remembered when we consider our fellow travelers whose recent journey ended among us.
Regardless of your religion, the Nativity brings the universal message of fellowship and humility that allows us to find joy without need of fancy surroundings or lavish expense. That is a powerful message.
Christmas also demands that we hold Peace as our highest ideal and work towards it as a normal, daily part of our lives. And as we witness the suffering in Gaza, Yemen and Ukraine brought on by war, the need for peace cannot be overstated.
So let us reflect upon our present blessings and, a la Charles Dickens, “open [our] shut-up hearts freely, and think of people below [us] as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”
Blessings to everyone.