The darker side of the holiday season

By now the twinkling and joyful sights and sounds of the holiday season are out and about everywhere.


By now the twinkling and joyful sights and sounds of the holiday season are out and about everywhere. The stores are full of excited shoppers, the children are making up their wish lists with glee and ever-changing minds, and that most glorious family holiday celebration of Christmas is now in full swing. Hopefully, we will all take some precious time to share the true meaning of this holy celebration, which is the birth of the Christ child on that faithful morning in a distant stable so many decades ago.

The Yuletide season should be all about family and friends gathering together to trim the tree, to take part in joyful song and bountiful feasts in our warm and jolly homes and community events, but to also to extend our caring and compassion by giving and sharing with others. Unfortunately, along with all the love, the joy and the good times that so many of us are blessed with, there are countless others who may not be able to enjoy the camaraderie of the holiday season, and may be forced to suffer alone through the frigid winter because of many tragic and sad circumstances beyond their control.

I was really shocked last week to read an article stating that the state of homelessness in Canada has now become a national crisis, despite all our so-called growing wealth, prosperity, and promised opportunities. The story stated that, on any given night in our nation, some 35,000 Canadians have no place to call home, and much closer to all of us is the fact that 6,600 of these poor souls are in the province of Alberta. The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness has launched their ’20,000 Homes Campaign’ with a bold objective to house 20,000 of our nation’s most vulnerable by 2018, but the ‘experts’ at all levels of the government are insisting that the solutions to the ever-growing problem of homelessness and poverty must come from the communities. Of course, there have been all sorts of promises and plans coming from our freewheeling elected officials, but when are they finally going to pass the cash and the direction to the hardworking and dedicated community groups of ‘working folks’ who live and know where the poverty is all happening, each and every day?

So how can we give hope/help over the holidays?

Most of us, as families, school classes, businesses, neighbours and individuals. will be attending the annual Kinsmen Carol Festival, as well as countless school and church concerts, parties, games, and other jolly events throughout the holidays. During these festivities, the organizers, sponsors and hosts have given their guests the unique opportunity to have a great time, as well as to also support a vital community cause of their choice. Please check the newspapers and posters for all the activities, and then really enjoy your precious time with others, and thanks for giving just a little help from the heart for so many special causes.

● The students of the Ponoka Secondary Campus will once again be hosting the vital ‘Santa’s Anonymous’ program through the 2014 holiday season. Colorful gift boxes will be located throughout town and at various events to collect toys or items for the Ponoka Food Bank, which will help to fill the many Christmas hampers that will be delivered to those who need and appreciate them.

● The joyous CPR Holiday Train will be rolling into Ponoka on Monday, Dec. 8 at approximately 3:45 p.m. There will be fabulous entertainment and treats for the whole family, with the only admission being a non-perishable item for the Ponoka Food Bank. Another article that appeared in the media recently stated that the vital funding for the Food Banks across the Province have dropped by nearly 70 per cent.

● Some community groups gather items such as socks, gloves, coats, boots and other clothes that will help keep those people who are in need of them warm during the cold winter. Among the greatest age-old traditions of the yuletide season are the rustic Salvation Army Kettles and attending the Christmas Eve church service with family and friends. The Ponoka Community Christmas dinner at the Kinsmen Recreation Centre on Dec. 25 has become a popular, friendly and fun event over the years for those who are by themselves, are visiting, or have not made plans for the amazing festive feast. Please watch the paper or posters for more information if you wish to attend, to volunteer, to entertain or to donate to this gala afternoon.

Thank you as always for opening your hearts and sharing your generosity and kindness so that everyone, young and old, can celebrate the joys of Christmas, and have a great week full of jolly jingles, all of you.