With just a few shopping days remaining before Christmas, the malls are packed, the local stores are bustling, and the line ups seem endless.
This is the time of year when we see people at their best, and at their worst.
So many people get caught up in the commercialization of the holiday that they lose sight of why this time of year is truly special.
It's not about the presents under the tree. It's not about striving to make our holiday perfect, just like those quintessential (albeit unrealistic) moments so often found in movies and television shows.
Rather, this is a time to celebrate family, friends, and the gift of life. It's a chance to create wonderful memories and to make a difference in other people's lives. It doesn't matter what religious or ethnic background you have. It doesn't matter if you celebrate the Christian holiday, the winter solstice, Hanukkah or the host of other special observances this time of year. What matters is that we come together to promote peace and love.
There's something special about a gift of homemade cookies or a child's hand-drawn card. Whether offering to help shovel snow or pay for the next person in line's coffee, it's the little things that make a big difference.
There's something authentic, something tangible, about doing nice deeds without looking for anything in return. That's a lesson children throughout West Hants have been discovering this month. The Kindness Tree project in our school system is as an excellent example of how the holiday spirit can bring out the best in one another.
This month, children were challenged to report kind deeds. And while loaning someone a pencil may not seem like a big deal to an adult, for a child, on that particular day, that small act of kindness meant the world. We should all be so lucky to have such a positive outlook on simple, everyday acts of kindness. Maybe then we wouldn't be so hung up on expensive gifts and creating perfect holiday scenarios.
For those who have suffered any loss, this time of year can be particularly difficult. Life can change so quickly. This holiday, don't forget to take the time to celebrate what you have. Some people are simply thankful to have a roof over their head, and food in their bellies. We live in a wonderful part of the world. Let's not forget how fortunate we are and remember to give a little. A smile costs nothing.
From our staff, Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and may the new year treat you well.