If I were to use one word to describe my personal journey in 2015, it would be “gratitude.”
This past year, more than ever before, I realized just how fortunate I am, comparatively speaking. For my family, my friends and my community, and the shear luck of not being born in a country where I must fear for my life and the lives of those around me every day, I am thankful.
The past year opened many people’s eyes to the same virtue, particularly on the international front.
While the Syrian refugee crisis was not a 2015 phenomenon, it took a toddler’s lifeless body on a Turkish beach for the world to take notice of a situation that had been going on for four years.
Locally, thanks to the efforts of Darren and Caron Mulgrew, and the Comox Valley Refugee Support Committee, most of us were in tune with the crisis, at least to some degree, prior to Aylan Kurdi’s body washing ashore in Turkey’s Bodrum peninsula, in September. And while it is sad that it took the death of a child to bring the refugee crisis to the front of the news (an estimated 2,500 Syrian refugees had already died fleeing their homeland in 2015, before media worldwide gained access to the iconic photo), I am thankful that Kurdi’s death was not in vain.
On the homefront, this Christmas, my wife and I were honoured and humbled to have volunteered at the Earl Naswell Community Christmas Dinner.
We were only two of some four dozen volunteers who came out on Christmas morning to lend a helping hand, making sure that everyone in our community had an opportunity to enjoy a full Christmas dinner, free of charge.
A certain percentage of the guests in attendance were there not out of need for food, but simply to share a dinner with others, as opposed to heating up a can of stew and watching reruns on the television at home, alone.
Clearly, though, the majority of those in attendance were there because it was a healthy, hot meal. It may have been the only such sit-down meal they had that week.
Organizers of the Earl Naswell Christmas Dinner had a system down to a tee – the only people waiting were the volunteers, lined up through the kitchen and down the hall, taking plates of food out to the guests.
There were actually more volunteers than were needed for the event – many of them first-timers. It fortified our love for our community, seeing that many people taking time out of their own celebrations to ensure others had a healthy meal and a few kind words on Christmas Day.
It takes very little effort on one’s part, to make life easier for another.
This is a lesson I learned many times in the past year, as often through happenstance as through planning.
Yes, there are many who are better off than us, but there are exponentially more who would switch places with any of us in a heartbeat.
It’s something to think about, as we enjoy a home-cooked meal tonight.
Terry Farrell is the editor of the Comox Valley Record