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Saturday, June 22, 2024
Home Opinion Merry Christmas, everyone

Merry Christmas, everyone

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Merry Christmas, everyone
Peace on Earth -- cartoon by Greg Perry

A few nights ago we had some problems sending the paper to the press, so I didn’t leave the office until close to midnight.

With no grocery stores open, nothing in my stomach, and only mustard, egg nog, and two-week old celery in my fridge, I stopped at a gas station on the way home to grab something to eat. Before I even got out of my car, an intoxicated woman was running towards me from the street asking for help.

Help with what? Could I give her a cigarette? Sorry, I don’t smoke. How about a ride to Georgie’s? Sorry, I don’t know who or what that is. Well, could you help this guy instead?

Who? You know, this guy. The guy who trudged up behind her, maybe five foot nine or five foot ten, dressed in tattered work cloths, and shivering.

Could I give him a ride to the shelter? The wind whipped up, and my fingers started to freeze. Well, sure, I can give you a ride. Pile into the car while I get something to eat.

The intoxicated woman had a home to go to. I know, because she talked about it non-stop for the entire 45 minute drive we took around Prince Albert. Her friend didn’t, and he didn’t elaborate why as we drove to two different shelters searching for an empty cot. Eventually, we pulled into the YWCA, where the night watch made a few calls and put him in touch with the Mobile Crisis unit. He’d have a place to stay tonight.

A chill air whipped through the empty streets of Prince Albert as we dropped him off for the final time. He thanked us both on the way out, using more words in a few seconds than he had the entire trip. As he exited the car, our intoxicated mutual friend hollered back at him.

“Take care of yourself. Remember, you’re somebody’s baby.”

I always knew there were people who, for reasons we won’t get into here, didn’t have friends or family members to enjoy the holidays with. But I was surprised to learn just how many of those people there are.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 52 per cent of Canadians say Christmas negatively impacts their mental health. That’s one out of every two people. Not one in 100. Not one in 10. One out of every two people view the holidays as a source of anxiety, depression and loneliness.

It makes me grateful for what I do have—family and friends who I can call at any time on any day to make the season bright—but it also makes me concerned. There are so many people who need that personal touch of kindness, something COVID-19 has made even more difficult to deliver.

This holiday, I hope and pray everyone reading this will slow down and deliver a touch of personal, face-to-face kindness and compassion to those who need it. And for those who feel all alone, as if the world has forgotten all about you, as if you could disappear and nobody would even notice you were gone, please remember, you are somebody’s baby, and that somebody was born for you this day in the City of David.

Merry Christmas to the lost, the lonely, and the hurting. Merry Christmas to the happy and free. Merry Christmas to our friends, and Merry Christmas to our haters. Merry Christmas, everyone.