When I was a boy, nothing beat Christmas as a holiday. There were the gifts, of course, and the look on my siblings’ faces as they opened their presents under the Christmas tree. There were all the traditional songs and carols, which our mother encouraged us to sing as we decorated the tree. And, too, there were the visits to or by our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
Christmas had it all, but what made it special for our family, was the emphasis on doing things as a family and on sharing. That was paramount in my family. With six children our home could be a tad chaotic and because we all lived cheek-by-jowl conflict was never very far away amongst we children. From a very early age we learned that it was okay to get angry with someone but you couldn’t hit anyone and once it was all over resentments and grudges were not allowed. Forgiveness, like sharing, was everything. My parents, particularly my mother, insisted we had to share what we had. “Don’t be a dog in a manger,” was one of her favourite sayings. And for the most part we all took it to heart.
As we all know, sharing is just as important today as it was back in the 1950s and ’60s. Back then there were no food banks.Oh, poverty and misfortune certainly existed then just as they do today but charity was, for the most part, handled by churches. When I was about five I remember going with my mother as she delivered hampers to some not-well-off families. I remember that one woman cried when Mom gave her the box of food, clothes and gifts. I don’t know if her tears were prompted by gratitude or shame, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the impression it made upon me as a very young boy.
That same kind of impression is being passed along in Revelstoke when we adults show that charity, sharing and helping the unfortunate is important to us as individuals. Oh, our children already know — perhaps instinctively and perhaps because they have been learning from our example — that sharing is the right thing to do. And we see evidence of that every year when our generous children raise money or donations of food for the Community Connections Food Bank and its Christmas Hamper program.
But the converse is true, too. If kids sense that adults are not committed to sharing within our community, what kind of lesson are they learning?
We have a community that believes it has a social conscience. We have shown that is true time and again but that social conscience can only flourish when it is exercised regularly.
This Christmas please show our local children that caring and sharing are important virtues.
How you do it up to you, but I guarantee that if you do the right thing as an adult you’ll not only feel that burst of warmth in your breast because you did the right thing but your children will learn a lesson they will never forget.
Merry Christmas, Revelstoke!