It may be Christmas outside, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it.
You can chalk that up to the weather, and not the lack of carols, Christmas decorations, or well-wishers. It’s -33 C as I write this, so you’ll forgive me for saying it feels more like mid-January than Christmas Eve. Rolling through the frozen tundra of downtown Prince Albert on my way to the office has been a good reminder that it’s the people who make Christmas what it is, not the temperature.
At the Herald, there’s no one who braves colder temperatures at more obscene hours than our carriers. They are the workhorse of our team, the people who are rarely seen, and only occasionally heard.
If the Herald was a football team, our delivery crew would be the offensive line. Seldom talked about by the pundits and fans, but try scoring points without them.
Newspaper carriers seem to take a special pride in their job. Every so often I will run into a man or women (usually two or three decades older than I am) who upon hearing what I do for a living will tell me about the years they spent delivering the Daily Herald. Back then, they were eager 11, 12, or 13 year old kids. Today, they are teachers, business leaders, and healthcare professionals. Regardless of what path they took in life, they are always proud to say they delivered the Prince Albert Daily Herald.
I know I’m not the only one who appreciates their efforts, especially during cold winter mornings. In the days leading up to Christmas it’s not uncommon for readers to stop by with a small gift for the person who delivers their paper. Sometimes these readers don’t even know their carrier’s name. They arrive only with a gift and an address, and ask us to look up the name of the person who delivers to that particular street.
If there are unseen and underappreciated people in the media world my vote would go to Prince Albert’s many media reps. These people are often the first ones (and sometimes the last ones) we call or email when we want comments for a story. The good ones are unfailingly professional no matter the request or time of day.
Singling out individual people for commendation is a bit like thanking everyone at the Oscars. You hesitate to do it because you know there is someone you will forget. A few of the good communications pros who come to mind are Marcus Miller, the curator at the Mann Art Gallery, and Lyle Karasiuk at Parkland Ambulance, both of whom constantly ease my mind and my stress level by picking up the phone and agreeing to interviews at unexpected times. I offer this at the risk that I will undoubtedly remember many others I should have mentioned the second I put my key in the ignition to start driving home.
I also appreciate the many Prince Albert teachers who volunteer their time coaching high school sports who freely answer questions about their team’s performance, win or lose. There are many, many full-time professional coaches out there who are paid to talk to the media, and fail to show the grace and professionalism that many Prince Albert high school coaches do. This is especially true after a tough loss. To all the coaches who talk to us, during both good times or bad, Merry Christmas.
This year saw one of the most tragic events in Saskatchewan’s history: the murder of 12 people in a spree of stabbings on Labour Day weekend. It would be irresponsible of me to write a section about media representatives without thanking the communications people who staff our police departments.
Working as a coms rep for a police department is a thankless job. On one side, you have police officers who are not always keen about giving information to the media, and on the other side are journalists who always keep poking away with pointed questions. This year’s stabbings showed the importance of having good communications people working for our police departments.
I’d like to thank Charlene Tebbutt at the Prince Albert Police Service, and her compatriots with the Saskatchewan RCMP, for getting us answers to pointed questions at occasionally obscene hours. I would be lying if said I am always happy with the information police chiefs and investigators provide the media (and by extension, the public). Sometimes I am actually incredibly frustrated and angry, but I always appreciate the patience and professionalism of our police department’s communications professionals. To them, I say Merry Christmas.
Lest I be accused of being too hard on the police, let me close this column by thanking the men and women of the Prince Albert Police Service, along with all the people who will work Christmas Day so the rest of us can enjoy ours. One of my brothers is a police officer, and he worked almost every Christmas Day during the early years of his career. This year, in a strange reversal of fortune, I’ll be working Christmas Day while he gathers around the tree with his family. However, he has two children who are ages nine and six, so even with the day off, he will likely be forced out of bed far earlier than I will.
On Dec. 25, there will be doctors delivering babies, nurses waiting on elderly patients in care homes, firefighters responding to fires, police officers answering calls for help, and numerous men and women checking in on Prince Albert’s homeless population on what’s sure to be a cold Christmas Day. To all these man and women, I say Merry Christmas, and thank you.
Finally, I want to wish Merry Christmas to all our readers. Whether you loved the trucker convoys or hated them, agreed with mask mandates or didn’t, whether you’re an NDPer, a PPCer, a Sask Party supporter or a Liberal, whether you cheer for the Raiders and Riders, or the Blades and Bombers, I genuinely wish you a Merry Christmas. I truly hope that whatever your opinion of us at the Herald, you are surrounded with friends and family, and made to feel loved and appreciated.
And as always, to all who are hopeless and hurting, I hope you will remember a child was born for you this day. He does not care what nationality you are or what colour your skin is, and he will leave the 99 sheep to search for the one that is lost.
May God bless you all. Merry Christmas, and good night.