As adults we often find ourselves enjoying the Christmas holidays less for ourselves and more for our children and grandchildren.
We use this time of year to share our own family traditions with our children or to create new traditions that will become the cherished memories and Facebook posts of tomorrow. Those traditions take many forms, from hiking out into a provincial forest to pick out and cut down that special tree (with the appropriate permit of course), to grabbing cups of hot chocolate and enjoying the one million lights at Canad Inns Winter Wonderland Red River Exhibition Park.
There is no question that as Manitobans, we are blessed. We reside in the best country in the world, in one of the best times of history. But for all our blessings we don’t need to look far to see that too many Manitobans continue to struggle. A recent report by Campaign 2000, a social justice coalition, noted that one in three children in Manitoba lives below the poverty line. What is even more disturbing is that the situation has been only getting worse over the last decade.
I don’t bring this up for any other reason other than encouraging all of us to work on creating new Christmas traditions, ones that hopefully instil in our children the value of giving and to recognize that not everyone is as fortunate as they are. For example, on several occasions I, along with my six, eight and 10 year-old children have volunteered at Agape Table, a soup kitchen on Broadway bussing tables, pouring juice and serving breakfast. More than any other time of year not for profit charitable groups are looking for volunteers to help out at soup kitchens or pack Christmas hampers or to set up community collections of warm winter clothing. Giving does not need to be complicated and we don’t need to look beyond our own communities to give. There are many seniors who, while still independently living at home, struggle with things such as shoveling their driveways or may simply appreciate someone stopping by for a coffee and a visit. Many times the gift of one’s time can be as generous as a monetary gift.
So as our children’s school holidays fast approach and we hear the inevitable "I’m bored" I encourage you to use this as an opportunity to challenge them to create a new family tradition, one that embraces the true spirit of Christmas. As one of the all-time classics, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! noted, "What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.
What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
Whatever your individual traditions may be, please have a safe and wonderful Christmas, and all the best to you and your loved ones throughout the holidays and 2016.
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