Friday, January 4, 2019



Often throughout their lives, people take things for granted, especially during the holiday season. People have Christmas cheer in December, enjoying time with family, friends, and trading gifts with each other.  Warmth and cheerfulness is in the air as they talk and enjoy time with family and friends across the dinner table. Almost all people have that certain Christmas that has sentimental value to them. Three years ago was my special Christmas and it was quite unique from the common Christmas story.

George Lanzot for the WIZARD WEEKLY
One of the parents from my hockey team told me about a program called Families for Families. It was a program where people give gifts to others who are in an impoverished state. Immediately, I decided to participate.  We were given a list of families in need and set to work.  Perhaps what surprised me most was the fact that these families didn’t ask for video game consoles or expensive jewellery.  All they requested were simple needs: coats, gloves, hats, food and a maybe even a board game.  On Christmas Eve,  my family drove me to the homes where the presents were to be delivered.

As I entered the city of Newburgh, the environment  was quite astonishing. There were no doors on some houses, windows were cracked or covered with wooden boards, and the cold environment sneaked its way into homes. Most of the homes were not adorned with bright lights, inflatables, or holiday ornaments. Sparingly, I found a few blinking lights or a wreath on the door of a home or two. This feeling of despair turned into one with a glimmer of hope. The look on the faces of the people who received the gifts changed me as a human being. 

It was at that defining moment I realized that those families living in poverty and deprivation appreciated everything, while the more privileged human beings often took things for granted.  There was, however, one specific family that touched me most of all. 

The aforementioned family consisted of a mother, father, grandmother, and five siblings crammed together in a small home. As I entered the cramped space, the walls enclosed my heart.  Before I knew it,  my father and I were carrying the gifts toward a hospital bed that housed a young child.  She suffered from some sort of lung problem and she had an oxygen mask covering her mouth. Sadly, the girl was like this due to an accident that happened at the hospital in the past.  Although she could not speak, the way she blinked at me were words themselves as they sunk into my body. This is a feeling I will never forget as I imagined the gifts we delivered to her and her family filled their hearts with happiness like every other family.

As we were leaving, we spoke to the young girl’s mother and she reached for my hand to give thanks. As I looked back at the girl again, I saw the joy in her face and a light that surrounded her. Her mom further shared her daughter's tragic accident. The nurse on duty at the hospital had removed her breathing tube but carelessly stepped away to take a phone call which resulted in her losing oxygen and becoming disabled. Despite their challenges, the family expressed their devotion and love for one another and seemed to persevere on faith alone.

With conviction I must state, an enjoyable Christmas isn't always about having a large dinner with family or getting the gifts you wanted. It's about the appreciation of the gift, love for one another and the spirit of life.  This was the special Christmas that made me think about my life decisions, the appreciation of others and the true principles of love.

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