Happy Holidays my friends,
The Christmas season has always been my favourite time of year. Yes, I admit that I DO loooove getting gifts (frankly, who doesn't...?), However, my real pleasure comes from going out and about to spread hope and holiday cheer wherever I can. Often, with the hustle and the bustle of this busy time of year, people can lose sight of the true reason behind this holiday: "Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men." We've probably all done it at one time or another...given in to our own inner "Scrooge," and occasionally lost focus on the real meaning of Christmas. Perhaps it's just because I can, but I like to take it upon myself to act as a kind of "antidote" to the the seasonal "HUMBUGs", and remind people of what is really important. And, as my father always says: "lead by example!"
One of my more favorite routines is to visit Mississauga's (and also one of the North America's) largest mall, the Square One Shopping Center, and to visit at it's busiest and most hectic time of the season. My first stop is the bulk food store, where I buy a huge bag of miniature candy canes for a small pittance (bulk buying has it perks). I then spend the remainder of the day, passing the treats out to the overworked and beleaguered staff of the over 400 retail outlets, in an attempt to reverse the effects of the "Grinches" that steal away the spirit and hope of the season. I admit that there are a handful of people are not too keen to receive a small holiday treat from a 40-something gentleman in a wheelchair but, overwhelmingly, the response I get is one of sincere gratitude and/or appreciation.
Yeah, I know - call me corny, but you'd be surprised by how well restores that hope!
A good chunk of my holidays are also spent volunteering at the Trillium Health Centre Hospital, also here in Mississauga. As you'll recall in my last blog entry, I mentioned a woman by the name of Kathy Harvey, who, as a quadriplegic, had designed mouth-painted Holiday cards that are then sold as a fundraiser for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. For several years now, I've dedicated a month or so, every Christmas season, to sell these cards to the patrons and visitors of Trillium, where Kathy resided as a patient for over thirty years.
Possibly because I am in a wheelchair, or perhaps in this case it is because of the season, but, while there, I have always found myself enjoying the good fortune of meeting some of the best people that humanity has to offer. If you think that a hospital is a place of nothing but despondency and sadness, you'd be wrong. Yes, there are those emotions hanging around the hallways but, mostly, what you sense from the people who frequent there is pure and simple hope; the belief that things will get better. You also get from them the understanding of how life is really too short, so we should all live it to the fullest, and be there for the people we care most about. I've met hundreds of caring and, above all, giving individuals, all of whom thought nothing of buying a package of cards, or of dropping a few coins in the cashbox. And the amazing thing is - even if they themselves didn't actually celebrate Christmas, they were still just as equally affected by the spirit of it; by the goodwill that it engenders in all people.
And their generosity was every bit as awe-inspiring!
When you finally read this, 2008 will have become nothing more then history and memories. A new year will have begun; one filled with the promise of hope for better things. For those of you who had a difficult past year, I wish you glad tidings for the coming 12 months, and the hope that this new beginning brings with it. I think everyone can agree that this first decade of the new Century has been a very challenging one - possibly among the toughest in our collective history. But, like many who have experienced a difficult childhood, I firmly believe that this Millennium will prove itself to be nothing less than miraculous in terms of what marvels it will offer us - and the world!
Every day is a new hope. Every day is one day closer to a cure. Maybe tomorrow will be the day - we finally end MS!
I certainly have hope it will!
I wish everyone who reads this a very Happy New Year. May 2009 bring with it joy, success, happiness and satisfaction - and maybe a stranger or two, handing out candy when you really need a pick-me-up.
Aug, who "hopes" no one finds his private candy cane stash!
PS: You can find more information on the Kathy Harvey Holiday Greeting Cards by clicking here.