Live Well: As Christmas Approaches

Live Well: As Christmas ApproachesGreeting cards and advertising would have us believe that Christmas is a time of joy and giving, warm and loving family gatherings, beautifully prepared and stress-free meals and the perfectly decorated home and Christmas tree. While this may be true for some who have the physical, emotional and financial resources to create these Hallmark moments, such is not the reality for many individuals and families living in our community. For them, Christmas is a time of aggravation, sadness, loneliness, depression and desperation.  
 Mental illness and financial instability are two realities many New Brunswickers face. As many of you know, New Brunswick’s child poverty rate is one of the worst and most striking in the Nation, with one out of every five children living in poverty. Moreover, in the 2017 report card on The Face of Child Poverty in New Brunswick, prepared by the Human Development Council, almost 50% of children in single parent families in New Brunswick are living below the poverty line. Poverty, as defined by the article, is the condition of a person who lacks the resources, means, opportunities, and power necessary to acquire and maintain economic self-sufficiency or to integrate into and participate in society. With these statistics in mind, why not use Christmas as an opportunity to incorporate community into your holiday traditions?
 Christmas presents an opportunity to sit down as a family or amongst friends and discuss ways to pay it forward. ‘Tis the season to reflect on how we, as a community, can support those struggling to make ends meet. Incorporating community involvement into your family’s holiday traditions is a wonderful way to teach children that the most valuable gift there is… is the gift of time and compassion. Whether it’s volunteering at a local soup kitchen, joining a toy drive, visiting a senior’s home, making a care kit for the homeless with items like socks, deodorant, mittens and snacks – these simple gestures can make the world of difference to someone whose relationship with the holidays is tenuous at best. As Mark Twain once said, To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.
 As the Holiday season approaches, please take the time to reflect on this past year. What made you happy? What brought you joy? Ask your children and friends, what filled their hearts this past year? Why are they grateful? And perhaps, the most important question to ask is: how can we ensure that others feel that same love and joy?
 There are many volunteer opportunities available on the Saint John Volunteer Centre website.