It’s a weird Christmas this year.
To me,it feels like I’m living in parallel worlds and I wonder how many are feeling this way?
In one I am – like many – grieving over the astonishing number of deaths from the opioid crisis, the unending loss of our elders in long term care, and seeing so many experiencing long term trauma in slow motion…
And in the other? I’m baking banana bread, making stuffing,irritating my kids with mom jokes, and the house is full of more lights than we have ever had up at Christmas, to counter the long, dark nights.
If ever there was a year to be grateful for whatever small comforts we have, this is it. And the disparity between rich and poor has never been more evident.Throngs of people still shopping, those lucky enough not to have been impacted financially by pandemic measures, still believing things are what bring joy, and how you show love. But what happens when those ‘things’ are gone? That is the reality far more are experiencing this year…and many more will be driven into deeper poverty in the new year.
It is often said that power reveals true character, and I agree, but it is less often said that crisis reveals even more about a person. It was compelling and revealing to see how people reacted to what has been an unprecedented event for most of us. The hoarding and profiteering early on was no surprise. While humans are social creatures who tend to need community, we also know how self centred many are. If it’s not a problem for them, its not a problem, right? ( my biggest issue with people )
But in my own community, and I’m sure in others, within the first couple of weeks something beautiful happened.When the food bank had to close, another group quickly stepped up to make food boxes. A group was started to teach and mentor people on how to grow their own food,in whatever housing situation or space they had. A barter exchange started where seeds and seedlings were more valuable currency than money. ( I spent very little on my garden this year, and in stocking my pantry, thanks to bartering!)
And the people leading these initiatives, who rose up to make things happen? They were not politicians, except one. They were regular people who saw a need and filled it. We are, a community of resilient people who helped others become more resilient as well. Food security is something every person should have in a country with wealth like Canada’s.
Part of being human is experiencing the challenges life throws at you. Sometimes we are prepared for them and other times we are completely blindsided by a shitshow no one could have predicted. Resilience is the ability to withstand and adapt to life’s challenges but 2020 showed that many haven’t learned the skills to be resilient…the good thing is, that while some are naturally resilient, anyone can learn how to become stronger and better adapted to change and crisis. ( this is a good link to start with, to give you an idea of what I mean https://www.mentaltoughness.partners/build-resilience/ )
The groups and bartering taking place in my community that helped others enhance their food security I mentioned above, can be started where ever you are, even just in your own neighbourhood. These things can be done covid safely and growing food helped many develop a sense of purpose that also eased anxiety and fear. There is tremendous power in helping each other at a local one to one basis, even if its as simple as growing a bigger garden as I did, and sharing the bounty with others who aren’t able to garden. ( this is where I see an immediate need for more community gardens and public food gardens over flowers)
Having grown up in a very rural area in the north, I learned resilience at a young age-when you live in a rural area, if you aren’t resilient, you won’t make it. Its that simple. This helped in particular, with the isolation of limited social interactions through the early part of the pandemic. Playmates were far and few between on the road I lived on as a child and teen, and I was happy to explore our property and the woods around it, playing with salamanders and toads, alone. And I can’t help but think that while tech and devices have been critical to stay in touch this year, the intensive use of them in kids and youth isn’t helping to build resilience overall in the real world… and we need to think about how to foster resilience in our children and youth.
While I saw tremendous community building and compassion this year, there continued to be tremendous division on so many levels. It really was amazing this spring, to see how everyone in the legislature put aside politics to make the pandemic the priority, and the break from the partisan sniping across the house was a taste of how good government works. And while its definitely not necessary to be friends with those you oppose, there is something to be said for trying to get to place of putting people before partisan interests.
This pandemic arrived after a decade of the BC Liberals gutting social services that were not yet restored and it shows.This is why, while their job in opposition is to oppose, the opposition still rings insincere to many because of this sad legacy. It’s also why no leader, should have unchecked power. There will be a tremendous amount of work to be done and I hope after Christmas they really can work together, rather than continue bickering. This is why John Horgans counselling response I wrote of yesterday, was so disappointing.
For some, not having to deal with a giant family celebration will be a reprieve – I’ve heard a lot of people say its been a break not having to deal with so many expectations – but for others being apart is hard. For all you beautiful souls who have lost someone, my thoughts are with you.
How and where you are spending the next week through to New Years, don’t forget to reach out and check on those around you, especially friends and neighbours who are alone. And if you need help, if you need support, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are needed and wanted, and you do matter….and this too will pass, even if its impossible to see this right now.
The Foundry has resources for youth here https://foundrybc.ca/
And crisis and distress lines for BC are listed here https://crisiscentre.bc.ca/get-help/
Merry Christmas friends. 🙏 Thank you for being here when I feel drawn to write. In the timeless wisdom of Mary Oliver’s beautiful poem below…” joy was not made to be a crumb…don’t hesitate”